"People from all over the world come to Marrakech and spend a lot of time sinning" - Mustafa Ramid
|Ramid in Marrakech|
Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid has only just come in to office in the new PJD led government but it has not taken him long to cause general embarrassment. As a a tourism official in Fez (who declined to be named) said, "At a time when Morocco is struggling to rebuild its tourism industry, Ramid's careless comments are the last thing that is needed."
The Moroccan minister has caused a lot of red faces in Marrakech. Even more worrying for Moroccan tourism, his unfortunate and bizarre remark has gone global with coverage in mainstream and social media including international television.
The remark - “People from all over the world come and spend a lot of time sinning and being away from God,” - was delivered in public by Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid during a visit to a Koranic school in Marrakech. He did not elaborate on his comments. However, AFP are reporting that the school visited by Ramid is run by Mohamed Maghraoui, the infamous Islamic cleric who caused controversy in September 2008 when he issued a fatwa authorising the marriage of nine-year-old girls. The legal age for girls to get married in Morocco has been 18 since 2004 but by law family court judges can allow earlier marriages in certain cases. This is believed to be common in rural areas.
It is expected he will be taken aside and given a little friendly advice from more experienced politicians. His obvious problem was well summed up by the Moroccan Internet news site, Goud.ma - “Islamist ministers are having trouble casting off their religious clothes and dealing with their ministerial jobs” .
The minister's silly remarks have also upset Moroccan's living overseas, as Dr Hussein Ben Kirat, writing for the Morocco Board news service, put it... "The PJD is, at one stage, claiming to be above moral issues, and at another, through the Minister of Justice, is in fact, doing the opposite. The PJD is already flouting with democracy which is only a wishful thinking. As long as the country is run by such irresponsible people, putting the tourist economy, one of the major activities of Morocco, at risk, the country is in danger to returning to the Dark Ages and starvation if inward foreign investment and technology dry out. The PJD cannot change from theocracy to democracy, as the Moroccan saying goes, "you cannot straighten the tail of a hound even if you kept it moulded in a reed."
Last year, just over 9.3 million tourists visited Morocco, presumably many of them are guilty of a little sin in the red city. It also seems clear that the minister has not a lot of real life experience. Maybe a holiday in Rio, Sydney or Amsterdam would help him comprehend the world the rest of us live in. Inshallah.
Story: Ibn Warraq