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Scandal in Morocco : Legalising paedophilia through a fatwa
Cheikh Mohamed ben Abderrahmane Al-Maghraoui recently published a religious decree on an internet site calling for girls as young as nine years of age to become wives. A lawyer as well as human rights activists have joined the ever swelling number of critics to denounce this call to legalise paedophilia.

A muslim leader has called for a fatwa that has unleashed a wave of criticisms.

Cheikh Mohamed ben Abderrahmane Al-Maghraoui recently published a religious decree on an internet site calling for girls as young as nine years of age to become wives. A lawyer as well as human rights activists have joined the ever swelling number of critics to denounce this call to legalise paedophilia.

Cheikh Mohamed ben Abderrahmane Al-Maghraoui has driven Moroccan human rights activists into a frenzy. According to a story published by Al Jarida Al Oula [a Moroccan journal] September 1st, the religious leader called for a fatwa on an Islamic site maghrawi.net calling for the marriage of 9 year old girls. “We have been told and we have seen that 9 year old girls are capable of wifely duties just like 20 year old women”, Cheikh Mohamed ben Abderrahmane Al-Maghraoui told maghrawi.net. And to give more strength to his comments he implicated the Prophet as having married a 9 year old child.

Risk of a boom in under-age marriages

If a scandal is what he is has been aiming at, he has undoubtedly achieved his goal. Human rights activists are venting their spleen. They reject a backward religious act that soils the international convention for the rights of children which was ratified by Morocco, as well as the new family code which puts the minimum marriageable age at 18 years, whatever the sex. The Code is, however, wrought with inconsistencies on the question of premature marriage. “The legislator has authorised premature marriage under exceptional conditions and submitted it for authorisation from the judge without being precise about the minimum age nor contractual conditions. The result of this is the ongoing practice of premature marriage”. Said Fatiha Mesbahi a member of the Moroccan human rights association (AMDH)

There is a widespread fear that this fatwa is designed to encourage premature marriage. In his comments, Mourad Bekkouri, a lawyer from rabat, says that due to “Morocco’s high number of illiterates, the effect of this action among the rural population remains unknown. Parents could marry off their small children should they think that the fatwa is officially binding, although it has not been approved by the Superior Council of ulemas”. Faced with such uncertainties, Mourad Bekkouri filed a law suit against this fatwa in Rabat on September 4. She is still waiting for the court’s decision.

This fatwa is a crime against humanity

According to the vociferous lawyer, this fight is to preserve the child’s innocence. “I think that this fatwa is an infringement on the rights of the child and a call for rape and paedophilia”. Several newspapers and associations have seconded the Bekkouri’s views and even taken it a step further. “At this stage, it cannot be termed as a promotion of paedophilia, it is paedophilia, period ! A nine year old girl is not mature enough to have sexual relations nor receive sperm for fertilisation purposes. It is simply killing a girl before she becomes a woman ! This fatwa is a crime against humanity. Whoever started it needs to face justice” said Mohammed Graigaa, executive director of the Moroccan Planned Parenthood Association.

While reading Al Jarida Al Oula’s article, Saïda Drissi Amrani president of the Democratic Association of women in Rabat got so sick she “could not finish the article”. It was the “beginning of the new school year which made the message even clearer; do not send your small children to school, but instead marry them... and how do you explain marriage to such a young child? How do you explain sex ? Can she decide at her age ? Let’s not try too justify what cannot be justified. Children are under the responsibility of their parents and not a husband until they turn 18 !” exclaimed Saïda Drissi Amrani, who thinks those calling for this law are sexually depraved paedophiles who want to use religon as a pretext to further their cause.

Call for help

A pretext because Cheikh Mohamed ben Abderrahmane Al-Maghraoui ommitted an important detail while describing the Prophet’s union with Aïsha in order to further soil the image of Islam with his “extremist” ideologies. The Prophet did not consummate his marriage with Aïcha at her age when her father gave her into marriage. That came much later”, confirms Mohammed Graigaa, who claims that the person who asked for the fatwa did so “to give himself some sort of importance”. This is not far-fetched. According to several newspapers, he is a salafist looking for popularity by virtue of controversial fatwas.

To avoid another scandalous act, Miss Mourad Bekkouri hopes that the ministry of Habous and Religious affairs should work more on controlling this type of proclamation. Meanwhile, for the Moroccan Association of Human rights it is time to go back to its fundamental values. “we have always fought for a separation of state and religion, that international conventions be ratified and also that internal laws be in harmony with international legislations. If that had been the case, we would not be at the beck and call of fatwas thrown from left right and centre by “cheikhs and ulemas”.


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