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Controversy in Morocco over Banning of Production, Sale of Burqa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Afghan women in a Kabul refugee camp, June 2013. AFP, Getty Images

Marrakesh- The Moroccan Ministry of Interior notified burqa producers and retailers of the immediate prohibition on the sale as the destruction of current stocks.

Copies of the notices have circulated on social networks, resulting in heated debate.

Civil society activists were quick to react. The Observatory of the North of Human Rights (ONDH) published a press release immediately after the ban was announced on Monday, condemning the decision of the Ministry of the Interior.

The ban is “arbitrary and infringes the rights of women to express themselves and dress freely. Clothing is a mean of expressing their identities, cultural, political and social convictions,” the ONDH said.

The human rights watchdog added that the decision is in “contradiction with the international conventions of which Morocco is a participant.”

“The decision of the Ministry of the Interior is illegal and void because it does not rely on any legal text. It is an attempt to impose conformity on Moroccan society by the parties behind this decision, to attack diversity and crack down on freedoms.”

On social media, the debate continued between supporters and opponents of the ban.

While some agree this is the right initiative to take in times when the threat of terrorism is more pervasive than ever, others see the ban as an “infringement of women’s rights, and an unnecessary discriminatory step against Muslim women.”

Moroccan media have been quick to point out that the burqa is not actually a Moroccan garment, but rather an Afghan fashion tradition.

Hammad Kabbadj, whose candidacy for legislative election was rejected by the Ministry of the Interior because his views were deemed too extremist, finds it “unfair” to prohibit the integral veil while the “Western” bikini is considered an unalienable right.

“It is unacceptable to forbid citizens from wearing the oriental niqab or to interfere in its marketing,” said the Salafist.

In a post on Facebook, this member of the PJD argues that the prohibition “goes against the law and Human Rights.”

For his part, Mohamed Fizazi, a former Salafist who was once imprisoned following the 2003 terrorist in Casablanca, did not disapprove of the ban, so long as Moroccans can always wear the hijab.

“I do not know what a burqa is. All I know is the djellaba, the veil and the hayk, traditional Moroccan garments passed on from generation to generation,” he was quoted as saying.

The preacher insisted that he is against the import of cultural dressing models of any state whether that state is Afghanistan or Switzerland.

“We should not associate the ban of the Burqa with the headscarf, which is the law of God and an obligation, and this ban can never be carried out in the Sherrifian Kingdom. The import of the burqa, which represents a certain tendency among some extremist or jihadist groups, is a different matter,” he added.