|King Mohammed VI of Morocco and his family.|
The King is doing a high wire act to include Islamists in the government while protecting the more moderate nature of the Moroccan state.
Morocco has a moderate Islamist government, but violence is right under the surface.
- Prime Minister speaks out for personal freedom.
Intense debate on personal freedoms renewed recently in Morocco after a young woman wearing a short modern dress in a Rabat market was assaulted by people described as Salafists.
Witnesses told Magharebia the girl was stoned and beaten because she was wearing clothes that were too revealing in the eyes of the assailants reports Magharebia News.
Human rights and women's organisations issued statements denouncing the assault on the Moroccan girl, during which she was stripped of her clothes entirely. Young Moroccan men and women turned to Facebook and online groups to call for protection of individual freedoms in Morocco, including the group "Débardeur and I am fine.
"Human rights and women's organisations issued statements denouncing the assault on the Moroccan girl, during which she was stripped of her clothes entirely. Young Moroccan men and women turned to Facebook and online groups to call for protection of individual freedoms in Morocco, including the group "Débardeur and I am fine."
"Though this incident appeared in the media and gained wider attention, that does not mean it is not repeated on an almost regular or semi-daily basis in all the alleys and streets of our cities. It may not end in stripping the girl of her clothing, but the verbal and physical harassment that women may experience is sometimes more heinous and horrible," said Nora Al-Fuari, an activist journalist at the Al-Sabah daily and a member of the Facebook group.
"From here came the idea of creating this page on Facebook, which we made open to everyone, including those in hijab or niqab, or the 'coarse' males who share the same vision with us. The selection of Débardeur is just a symbol, in reference to freedom—the freedom of women to wear what they want. Débardeur was mother of the 'short skirt'," she added. "In the end, the body is her body and no one has the right to confiscate it."
Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane responded to the controversy by speaking out in defence of personal liberties.
"I believe in freedom, God created us free," the prime minister said. "Who is Benkirane to tell Moroccans to shave your beards or to impose the hijab? Individual liberties are sacred and are not to be touched," he added.
Meanwhile, a Salafist supporter on the Facebook page going by the name Abu Ayyub clung to the necessity of Moroccan women to respect the requirements of Islamic dress. He contended that there was a legitimate "Sharia" dress that must be abided by.
"We must abide by the teachings of our Islamic religion, which calls on women to cover up their charms and abide by the veil imposed on Muslim women. I'm against calls for women to reveal their charms, and that must be countered firmly and with stricter protection of morality," the commenter wrote. (Magharebia News)