The call by a prominent Moroccan preacher to mark a national Chastity Day stirred controversy in the kingdom with some advocating the propagation of chastity and others regarding the initiative as an insult to Moroccans.
Sheikh al-Idrisi Abu Zeid, Quran reciter and leading member of the Islamist-oriented Justice and Development and the Islamic organization al-Tawhid wa al-Islah (Monotheism and Reformation), called for dedicating a day to the annual promotion of chastity and suggested calling it National Chastity Day.
This day, he said, will aim at fighting all “unchaste” phenomena that have lately invaded the conservative Moroccan society.
For sociology researcher Mohamed Boulouse, promoting chastity is a must, but one day a year will not be enough.
“We need campaigns that would last for weeks and months in order for chastity to become part of our society again and to counter all phenomena that are stranger to all society,” he told Al Arabiya.
Boulouse cited the example of “indecent” films, TV serials, festivals, and different artistic expressions that aim at “sexual arousal.”
Such campaigns, Boulouse added, should also include food, clothes, actions, and words that should all be in line with Islamic principles.
“There should be a focus on curbing sexual desire and abstaining from all lustful actions.”
This campaign, he explained, cannot be launched by one person and all Moroccans who demand the return of decency to their society should be part of such initiative.
“Several initiatives can be launched to reintroduce ethics and religious teachings to different aspects of life and to invite people to take part in activities that promote chastity.”
Islamic studies researcher Saeid Lakhal argued that the Tawhid and Islah Movement is starting to interfere in the cultural and artistic scene in Morocco following the electoral victory of the Justice and Development Party.
“The movement and the party have always objected to festivals and cultural activities to no avail. Now they think they can do what they haven’t been able to do for years,” he told Al Arabiya.
For Lakhal, statements by Idrisi and other movement members as well as advocates of their initiatives aim to test the waters and see how Moroccans and civil society will react.
“There are several democratic powers that have fought for long to create a multicultural Morocco that accepts all intellectual, artistic, cultural, and ethnic differences and those who launch such initiatives are trying to see how they would respond.”
Lakhal argued that the Chastity Day initiative is an insult to Moroccans since it assumes they are not chaste in the first place.
“The initiative means that Moroccans have lost chastity and need to restore it. As far as I know, national days are dedicated to urgent issues concerning specific sectors or echelons of society that are facing problems that need to be addressed.”
Lakhal said that instead of dedicating a day to chastity, national days should better be dedicated to poverty, homeless children, marginalization, or rural isolation.
“There are several social ailments that need to be addressed and society is in bad need of initiatives that achieve extremely important demands like equality and social justice,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)