Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Morocco against the veil

I saw this story in Corriere della Sera this morning but haven't been able to find an English-language version of it. I have written a quick summary.

The Moroccan monarchy and government is making moves to discourage the hijab. While it has passed no law, institutions and publically-owned corporations have been asked to make it difficult for its employees to wear it. The Ministry of Education recently pulped 700,000 primary school textbooks only to re-introduce them minus veiled women, and reduced the number of hours devoted to Religion, as well.

Why? The Minister for Education, Aboulkacem Samir, put it like this: "The hijab has become for women what the beard is for men, a political symbol".

This is just the most recent of government attempts to "interpret" Sharia to make it more amenable to modern life. Two years ago they passed the most liberal marriage laws in the Islamic world to make divorce easier to obtain for women and to make polygamy almost impossible. Even the Islamic parties accepted this, just as they accepted the first 50 women qualified to preach in mosques and prisons and to take part in the traditional theological discussions held before King Mohammad VI every Ramadan.

The government have not dealt with the hijab by means of the law, however, because it has become too popular, even among the educated and rich. It's become a fashion item flaunted by actresses and singers as they go to the mosque during Ramadan.

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