Saturday, March 20, 2010
Drying Out Morocco - The Debate Over Alcohol Consumption
Here is an article from the Economist concerning the ever returning debate about the legality of drinking alcohol in Morocco. A "dry" Morocco would be great if it emanated from a place of Faith in people's hearts - but then of course some hearts need to be guided to what is best for them.
Alcohol in Morocco
Glug if you're not local
A row over whether alcohol should be tolerated for some or banned for all
Mar 18th 2010 | From The Economist print edition
TOURISTS may be forgiven for thinking that drinking alcohol in Morocco is legal. You can happily buy the stuff in supermarkets, bars and smarter restaurants, but Muslims, who make up the vast majority of Moroccans, are strictly forbidden to drink it. Islamists dislike this compromise—and were delighted when the mayor of Fez, the religious capital, recently suggested it could become Morocco’s first entirely dry city.
It is not the first time that the Islamists have opposed the country’s tolerant attitude. In December Ahmad Raissouni, a hardline cleric, issued a fatwa calling on Moroccans to boycott supermarkets that sell alcohol. Two years earlier Islamist politicians had been outraged by the holding of a wine festival in Meknes, a conservative city at the heart of Morocco’s wine-producing region. Columnists in the populist press grumbled that Morocco was losing its Islamic identity.
Secularists have not been silent. After Mr Raissouni issued his fatwa, a human-rights group called for the ban on alcohol to be dropped altogether, arguing that, since it does not apply to foreigners, it thus discriminates against Moroccans.
It is a touchy issue, since Morocco wants to open up to the West and make tourism one of its main sources of income. The country’s 12,000 hectares (nearly 30,000 acres) of vineyards produce 35m bottles a year and provide 10,000 jobs in a time of high unemployment. Moreover, the state is the biggest vineyard owner and benefits from taxes on wine sales. Though Fez’s city council endorsed the mayor’s proposed ban, it is unlikely to go into effect. Tolerance, for the time being, prevails.