Saturday, February 20, 2010
Mayor of Fez warns on alcohol outlets
M Hamid Chabat, mayor of Fez, vowed this week to clean up a number of city bars and alcohol outlets that don't meet health and safety standards.
While this is an admirable goal, members of the press, particularly the news blog www.Yabiladi.com, took his comments out of context and have blown the story up to read 'total alcohol ban in Fez'.
The reporter at Yabiladi, Rachid Hallaouy, warned that super-chic Fez was being 'Iranised'. His story attracted a large number of comments, mostly in favour of the supposed ban. One of them even said that Fez has no need of tourism - the city existed before and will last long after the last visitor has left. Another voiced the opinion that anyone who wants to drink alcohol should leave the country. In the minority was one commentator not in favour of such a move, saying that couscous without a glass of Moroccan wine just wouldn't be the same.
But it's not only tourists who sample local beer and wine. A winemaker in Meknes told us recently that 99% of wine production in Morocco is consumed locally, and there simply aren't enough tourists to slurp up that wine lake, not to mention beer from the big breweries in Casablanca.
Alchohol is banned in Islam, although that rule hasn't always been adhered to. There are many songs and poems, such as those by Jallaluddin Rumi, praising the fruit of the vine. It's a big industry in Morocco, providing thousands of jobs and tax receipts for the government. A ban is unlikely. It would also be difficult to police, as the US found out during Prohibition.
So pity poor M Chabat - getting ones words taken out of context is part of life in the public eye!