Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Massive Mosque Closures in Morocco

Mosque collapses have been a problem in Morocco for some time. On February the 19th this year, a four-centuries old minaret collapsed in the Lalla Khenata mosque in the old Bab el Bardiyine neighbourhood of Meknes, killing 41 people and injuring 71 worshippers. (See our story here). Just over a week later one person was killed and three others wounded when the dome of the Al-Amal mosque in the town of Zaio in the Nador province in northeastern Morocco collapsed on Saturday during repairs. The dead man was one of the repair workers.

HM King Mohammed VI moved quickly after the Meknes tragedy and ordered all the country's mosques to be examined. It was a big undertaking as Morocco has more than 47,000 mosques.

Now the research has been done and action will begin. It has been announced that the government will close 1,256 mosques found to be "unsafe".

The ministry of religious affairs has said over 500 mosques would be completely demolished and rebuilt. In the interim makeshift tents would be provided for prayers.

The ministry said it has inspected over 19,000 of the country's nearly 48,000 mosques. A sum of $325 million has been set aside for improvement work, including demolition and rebuilding of 513 mosques.

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