Islamic cleric hits Morocco with the inevitable wine fartwa

‘Wine Fatwa’ Sparks Religious Spat in Morocco

No surprises here. When a Saudi Wahabite bought the Hyatt hotel in Cairo he immediately banned alcohol….. it comes with the territory. Supporters of the sheikh insisted that foreign visitors must respect Muslim cultural norms. Not that Muslims ever respect our cultural norms…..

Ayatollah Khomeini, 1979

“Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”

H/T Islamization Watch

Written by Rachelle Kliger/Media Line

A Moroccan cleric issues a ban on wine, drawing angry responses from secularists.

A Moroccan cleric’s religious edict banning the consumption of wine has drawn angry responses from pro-democracy groups, who say religion is being hijacked for political purposes.

Critics are concerned that this ruling indicates that an extreme form of Islam is being introduced into the North African country.

The fatwa, or religious edict, was recently issued by Ahmad A-Raisouni, a firebrand cleric aligned with the religious Justice and Development Party (PJD), the largest opposition party in Morocco, and is fueling a vigorous debate in Moroccan society.

A-Raisouni called on Muslims to avoid shopping in establishments that sell alcohol, which is forbidden according to Islamic Law.

By law, alcohol should not be sold to Muslims in Morocco, but this is seldom put into practice, with one Westerner who regularly visits the country testifying to alcohol-selling establishments being “over the brim” with Muslim Moroccans, especially in places frequented by tourists.

Dr. Jack Kalpakian, a political expert at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane said the fatwa was unlikely to have an effect on the consumption or sale of wine.

“It will actually lead to more resentment against the Islamists,” he told The Media Line. “It might even lead to these stores acquiring an edgy chic about them.”

“There is a myth that if there is an election in the Arab world, the Islamists will win a landslide,” Dr Kalpakian said. “That might be the case in Egypt and Jordan, but that’s not the case here.”

“These are precisely the kind of things that alienate [Islamists] from the rest of society,” he continued. “It’s true that a lot of Moroccans do not drink, but a large minority does. This has not flown over well with people at all. They don’t like restrictions on their personal freedom.”

Beit Al-Hikma, a Moroccan association formed two years ago with the declared aim of defending democratic values, tolerance and fighting extremism, said the ruling bears the hallmarks of Wahhabism, the strict form of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

Khadija A-Ruweisi, director of Beit Al-Hikma said these kinds of ideas could “impact the spiritual security of Moroccans and the stability of the country, which is trying to strengthen dialogue and democracy.”

Religion is being employed to serve political objectives that go against democracy, she told local media outlets.

Echoing accusations that the PJD was using religion to serve political and economic goals, Dr Kalpakian said the fatwa could well have been born of the fact that shops selling alcohol have taken a lot of business away from supporters of the PJD, many of whom are merchants.

“These stores [selling alcohol] have gained a lot of customers because they offer a high quality product at a lower cost,” he said. “All of them have an alcohol section that is segregated, so someone who objects to alcohol won’t be in a situation where they will be close to alcohol. Many have separate checkout counters and they don’t force their employees to work there. Part of it is also a jibe at some of the more established and influential families that own these stores.”

Kalpakian explained that alcohol is generally available in establishments belonging to the upper and middle class.

“The state derives income from taxing alcohol, both in production and import,” he explained. “Technically all these places are not supposed to sell to Muslims, but the reality is that there are lots of people who are secular in their outlook in life and they consume this, regardless of their nominal belonging to the Islamic faith.”

Enforcing a law that forbids selling alcohol to Muslims would be impossible to implement, he said.

“If it was enforced, you’d have enormous costs in verification and you’d create a black market,” Kalpakian said. “I’d say a third to half of the alcohol consumed in Morocco is not even official.”

“What the PJD is trying to do is to say its interpretation is correct and that everyone should toe its line,” he continued. “I’m afraid that will be unwelcome in this country, especially after the crackdown on Islamist terrorism.”

But Raisouni says there was a double standard in Morocco when it came to consumption of alcohol and drugs.

“People who support alcohol contradict themselves when they defend alcohol on the one hand, but don’t defend the use of drugs and selling of drugs,” he told CNN Arabic. “Why this distinction? Is it because wine is a commodity for rich people and hashish is for poor people? If this is what the Westerners are doing, do you have to imitate them?”

The fact that Raisouni, who is not authorized by the state to issue Islamic rulings, produced this edict, comes on the backdrop of a chaotic fatwa situation. Many rulings are often being issued simultaneously, sometimes contradicting each other and confusing the public.

This has become a matter of concern in countries like Saudi Arabia, which is trying to create a unified body authorized to issue fatwas.

Analysts suggest the ruling is unlikely to dent wine consumption in Morocco as its thriving wine manufacturing industry makes it the largest producer of wine in the Muslim world.

Production is approved by state law, since a lot of the produce is exported or consumed by non-Muslims in the country such as tourists, foreign residents and the Jewish community.

The sector brings in million of dollars in tax and employs thousands of workers, producing more than 30 million bottles every year.

Kalpakian said it was historically inaccurate to blame French colonialism for introducing wine to Morocco.

“That’s just a myth that the Islamists want to weave,” he said. “It was made in Morocco a long time before the French. Often the grapes were mixed with sugar and fermented in people’s homes. The notion that it was something that the French and their godless hedonistic Christian culture imposed on Morocco is plain nonsense.”

“If Morocco wants to reduce alcohol consumption it’s best done through education and explaining the risks,” Kalpakian argued. “That will be better than banning, which will turn it into a Western taboo and a desirable item.”

One thought on “Islamic cleric hits Morocco with the inevitable wine fartwa”

  1. Muslims normally equate wine with drugs like hashish to make it illegal. Yet this is a false parallel. Moderate wine drinking has been shown to prevent polyps in the bowels from which bowel cancer originates.

    Surely, those that do not drink moderately are in danger of liver cirrhosis and etc. Yet, this is not an argument to eliminate wine. If you drink water in great quantities every day, you are likely to become sick and die as well.

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