The Hassan II Mosque or Grande Mosquée Hassan II (Arabic: مسجد الحسن الثاني)is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 metres (689 ft).Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, worshippers can pray over the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside grounds.
The historical context of the mosque began with the death of King Mohammed V in 1961. King Hassan II had requested for the best of the country’s artisans to come forward and submit plans for a mausoleum to honour the departed king.In 1980, during his birthday celebrations, Hassan II had made his ambitions very clear for creating a single landmark monument in Casablanca by stating:
I wish Casablanca to be endowed with a large, fine building of which it can be proud until the end of time … I want to build this mosque on the water, because God’s throne is on the water. Therefore, the faithful who go there to pray, to praise the creator on firm soil, can contemplate God’s sky and ocean.
Lesbians in Morocco: Should we stay or should we go?
Being gay is a cultural and social taboo that these young Moroccans keep hidden.
RABAT, Morocco – In Morocco, often considered one of the most liberal Muslim countries, affection between women is common. Girls loop arms, stroll hand-in-hand and sit cuddled together. But when this affection becomes romantic and women want to live openly as lesbians, Morocco’s acceptance abruptly stops.
“Lesbianism is not a good thing. Our God does not allow us to do something like this. It is haram,” said Hasnae Krimi, 22, a linguistics student at Rabat’s Mohammed V University, who believes that sickness and natural disasters are increasing as a warning to reject homosexuality. Most people in this Islamic country respond in similar fashion: Homosexuality is haram, prohibited by God.
Even after the Arab Spring, as demands for democracy and human rights ripple through North Africa, homosexuality is still an island unchanged, officially illegal and too taboo to be discussed openly. Moroccan author Abdellah Taïa, who has written a new book about growing up gay in the Arab world, lives in Paris for fear of reprisal in the country of his birth.
Under Moroccan law, committing “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex” is punishable by six months to three years in prison and a fine ranging from 120 to 1,000 dirhams (about 14 to 117 USD). Algeria and Tunisia have similar bans. There have been no reports of women arrested in violation of these laws in Morocco, perhaps because experts say it’s rare for a lesbian to be open about her sexual orientation.
Moroccans Sarah and Maria, both 20, have been a couple for more than a year. Both asked that their last names not be used because of the stigma and legal implications attached to being a lesbian in Morocco. Though Sarah now attends a university in France and Maria is studying fine arts in Casablanca, they spend time together whenever they can.
Maria says she’s known she was a lesbian since she was 12 years old, but Sarah struggled when she began having feelings for Maria. “I wasn’t ready to understand how you can love someone that has the same gender,” she said. Now Sarah confidently pronounces, “I am lesbian.”
Sarah and Maria met online. A mutual friend teased Sarah about not knowing Maria because Maria lives in Casablanca where Sarah has many friends. Sarah added Maria on Facebook, planning to delete her later. Instead the women began messaging each other. To meet in person, Sarah flew secretly to Tunisia where Maria was studying abroad, telling her parents she spent the weekend studying with friends.
Neither woman’s family knows of her sexual orientation, but Sarah and Maria did tell some friends and colleagues they are lesbians — and lost friends as a result. Sarah said her ex-boyfriend physically attacked her in the street three times in one week because he was ashamed that she dated a woman after him. “We cannot rely on the police,” Sarah said, adding that if she reported the attacks, her former boyfriend “could tell the police that we are lesbians.”
Behind the law against homosexuality is religion, said Dr. Abdessamad Dialmy, a professor of gender studies at the Rabat’s Mohammed V University and one of the leading researchers of sexuality in Morocco. “For the majority of Moroccans, homosexuality is a sin because it is rejected by Islam,” he said. “If you have sex outside marriage, it is less condemnable than sex among the same sex. The first one is only a sin, not abnormal. Homosexuality is seen as a sin and abnormal.”
Moroccans grow up with strong attitudes about gender roles. “Like we say in Arabic, I need a back to stand on. [As a woman], I’m weak,” Krimi said seriously. “I need someone to support me, not someone who is just like me. If I am with a girl, I don’t think it will work.”
The societal pressure to get married, Dialmy said, is extreme. Marriage is often the central life event for men and women. “It is not a choice,” he said, adding that homosexual women often end up marrying men, sometimes gay men, and keep their true feelings suppressed or secret.
Sarah said she has come across women on the online forum
LGBT Maroc asking for advice on how to become heterosexual. She knows others who gave up their religion because “so many people tell them they cannot be both gay and a Muslim,” Sarah said sadly.
Sarah and Maria believe that being Muslim and being lesbian are not mutually exclusive. “I think that it is a question of interpretation,” Sarah said. “For us, love has no sex. There is no limit to love in our religion. For us, there is no limit for love.”
Nothing in the Qur’an offers any help. There are verses that condemn male homosexuality, fornication and adultery but nothing in Islam’s main text addresses lesbianism, said Dialmy. There is a hadith (a saying of the Prophet Mohammed) that condemns sexual acts between women, though it’s debated as to whether the Prophet really said this.
“We are the concrete example that we can be lesbian and Muslim at the same time,” wrote Sarah and Maria in a follow-up email. “We pray, we fast during the Ramadan month, and so on. We don’t have different beliefs from other Muslims; we just have the beliefs that every Muslim should have: what we read in the Qur’an and not what we imagine.”
Despite the pressures on lesbians in Morocco, there are signs that things might be changing. Sarah points to a growing community of support. True, it exists largely online, but internet forums such as LGBT Maroc and Lesbiennes du Maroc may help individuals feel they are not alone.
Perhaps more significantly, the government unofficially tolerates Kif-Kif, the only organization advocating for LGBT rights in Morocco. Kif-Kif’s main office sits across the border in Madrid, and its visibility is limited to low-profile conferences and Mithly, a new publication, distributed quietly, that features LGBT voices. Established six years ago, Kif-Kif has sought unsuccessfully to become a legal association in Morocco.
Still, worldwide consideration of gay rights and the increase of media with lesbian characters may be inspiring some societal acceptance in Morocco, especially among affluent young people.“That’s okay, for me, lesbianism. It’s freedom, it’s part of being human, to choose what they want,” said Abdelaziz Liasse, 24, a psychology student at Mohammed V University in Rabat. He advocates for what he calls “smooth lesbianism” — being secretive about one’s sexual orientation. “It is a fact that it is existing, but we cannot admit the existence of lesbianism [in Morocco’s Islamic society],” Liasse said. Openness would create what he calls an “explosion” of chaos in a society that does not accept homosexuality.
A “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality appears to be growing. Meryem, 28, who also asked that her last name not be used, dated another woman for two years. She never discussed the relationship with her parents, but they seemed to know anyway.
“They’re more or less open-minded, so I used to tell them about my boyfriends,” she said. “At a certain time I stopped talking about men and they didn’t ask for the reason because I think that they understood.” Meryem’s parents never brought up her sexual orientation. “They prefer hiding the reality even from themselves,” she said.
Posters online at Lesbiennes du Maroc acknowledge this attitude with an oft-repeated saying: “To live happily, live hidden.”
Zineb, 22, who also preferred not to give her last name, is a linguistics student in Mohammed V University. She experimented herself, kissing a girl when she was 16 years old. She knows other women who did the same thing, whether out of attraction or curiosity. “I have some bisexual friends, or at least friends who have tried kissing girls. They are curious to experience a new thing. [And] some girls are attracted to girls so they want to kiss them — not just for experience!”
Zineb is convinced that most lesbian and bisexual women eventually marry men. “It’s easier and you are more accepted by society,” she said. “If you want to go out of your parent’s house, you have to marry.” She doesn’t believe that gay marriage will ever be legal in her country.
It is a reality Sarah and Maria live with every day. “Sometimes we have to forget our professional dreams for our private dreams,” Sarah said. “We want to have a communications agency in Morocco, but if we want to live together and feel safe, to marry, to have children, and so on, we cannot live here. We don’t really know what we will do.”
“We are watching the American movies and series like “The L Word,” and we are just dreaming to have this life, but we can’t,” Sarah continued. “We just want to be free and safe. Maybe we will live in a country where there is the possibility to be together. I want to live here, but I have no security. I have to live in another country, not my country. I am Moroccan, but I cannot live in Morocco.”
I need to find the credit for this article. I thought i had cut and pasted it.
I'm a jew I can't wait to join my people and wipe you filthy Muslims out. You are pathetic, every religion hates you
What’s the reason you want to kill us? Shall I tell you something? Without muslims you wouldn’t even exist at the moment. Yes, you’ve read it well. You wouldn’t. We saved your ancestors. We protected them. We gave them their rights they deserve as a human being. I’m not talking about WW II only, but also many years earlier than that. Ever read about Jerusalem and how peacefully Jews have lived with muslims. We never forced your ancestors to become Muslim, like Christians did. You know if Christians had the power in Jerusalem then your ancestors would have been forced to convert, and they would have been even killed. (The story about Jesus). Judaism wouldn’t exist anymore if that happened, but be glad Muslims had the power, and they tolerated every single religion, and they respected them. We can see that still back. (Morocco and Albania is a great example). To make it more clear for you that I don’t talk nonsense. Let me show you a few great muslim leaders who saved Jews.
The Jewish tribe protected by decree of the Prophet The Banu Harith (Hebrew: Banim Chorath) are an Arabian Jewish tribe that were protected by their Muslim rulers for over 1,300 years. Ever since the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) explicitly stated they should be protected in the Constitution of Medina. In the 1930s most of the tribe lived in the Yemeni city of Najran, Saudi Arabia conquered the city in 1934 and the community began experiencing increased persecution which culminated in the local governor Amir Turki ben Mahdi giving the 600 Jews living there a single day to either flee the city or convert to Islam. The Jews chose to leave and Saudi soldiers escorted them to the Yemeni border. They settled in the cities of Saada and Aden. The Saudi King Abdulaziz demanded their return, but Yemen’s Shia Muslim King, Ahmad bin Yahya, refused his demand as he considered them to be Yemeni and not Saudi refugees. It is impossible to say what the fate of this Jewish tribe would have been, but it is likely to have ended tragically as Judaism is forbidden within the borders of Saudi Arabia. Today the remnants of Banu Harith live in Yemen and Israel. While these actions were truly commendable, there are questions as to the general treatment of Jews under Adhmad bin Yahya’s rule. While stories of persecution do exist, he was also one of the few Muslim leaders that permitted his Jewish subjects to leave for Israel – which prompted nearly 50,000 Yemenite Jews to flee to the fledgling state.
The Moroccan King who defied the Nazis During the holocaust the pro-Nazi Vichy Government of France controlled Morocco. In 1941 they attempted to enact laws that would discriminate against Moroccan Jews, setting quotas on the number of Jewish doctors and lawyers, ejecting students from French schools and forcing many Jews living in the European quarters to move to “Jewish areas”. All of this would have almost certainly ended in the transportation of Moroccan Jewry to Europe’s gas chambers. Shocked at these laws the King of Morocco, Mohammed V, told Jewish leaders that in his opinion Vichy laws singling out the Jews were inconsistent with Moroccan law. He believed that Jews should be treated equally with Muslims. He emphasized that the property and lives of the Moroccan Jews remained under his protection. “There are no Jews in Morocco. There are only subjects,” the King was reported to have said. In a blatant show of defiance the King insisted on inviting all the rabbis of Morocco to the 1941 throne celebrations. Due to his strong stance, Vichy administrators were unable to implement their discriminatory laws and the Jewish community was saved. But the story did not end there, in response to anti-Jewish rhetoric in the wake of the creation of the State of Israel the King warned Muslims not to hurt Moroccan Jews, reminding them that Jews had always been protected in Morocco.
The Sultan that sent a navy to save Jews In 1492 Spain expelled its Jewish and Muslim populations as part of the Spanish Inquisition. The ruler of the Ottoman Empire, Bayezid II, responded to Spain’s ethnic cleansing by sending the Ottoman Navy to rescue the victims of the inquisition and resettle them in Ottoman lands. The Sultan then sent out proclamations throughout the empire stating that the Jewish refugees were to be welcomed, granting them permission to settle anywhere in the Empire as full and equal citizens. He ridiculed the conduct of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, who had expelled the Jews by saying “You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler, he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!” – in recognition of the incredible contributions the Jews would make to his empire. Bayezid then sent a decree to all the governors of his European provinces, ordering them not only to refrain from repelling the Spanish refugees, but to give them a friendly and welcome reception, threatening those who treated the Jews harshly with death.
The Muslim General and his Jewish army During the 7th and 8th centuries Iberia (Spain and Portugal) was a divided kingdom ruled by the Catholic Visigoths, the region was home to a Jewish minority who suffered intolerable persecution under their Christian rulers. In the spring of 711, a Muslim army invaded Iberia. They were led by Tariq ibn Ziyad, serving the Arab governor Musa ibn Nusayr. The Muslim army engaged Roderick (Luthariq) the Visigoth King in battle and defeated him. They then marched northward to the Visigoth capital of Toledo. Both Latin and Arabic chroniclers record that the Jews of the city “opened the gates of Toledo” to Tariq, enabling him to conquer the city. Rather than simply offering the Jews protection for their act of bravery, Tariq elevated the Jews to protectors of the empire and positioned Jewish garrisons to watch over the cities of Toledo, Granada and Seville. Possibly the first instance in history where a Jewish army protected their Muslim cousins.
The Prophet Muhammad Many mistakenly believe that Muhammad (ﷺ) was an enemy of the Jews. Much of the confusion stems from the Battle of the Trench, which Muslim tradition records was a two week battle that raged between Arab and Jewish tribes against the Muslims of Medinah. After the Jewish tribes were defeated, between 600-900 Jewish men were sentenced to death. However, this was a battle that involved betrayal and treachery. To understand the Prophet’s (ﷺ) view of the Jews we must look at the relationship in its entirety. Muhammad (ﷺ) was married to Safiyya – a Jewish lady. On one occasion she came to Muhammad (ﷺ) in tears after being taunted for being Jewish by Arab women. After consoling her he said, “If they discriminate you again, tell them that your husband is Muhammad, your father was the prophet Aaron and your uncle was prophet Musa. So what is there in that to be scornful towards you”. It is well documented that Muhammad (ﷺ) had Jewish wives, friends and many subjects. And it is the treatment of these Jewish subjects in lands under his control that laid the blueprint of tolerance and protection that Muslim rulers have shown Jews throughout the centuries. In one of history’s major examples of state endorsed religious tolerance, Muhammad (ﷺ) drafted the Constitution of Medina declaring Jews a protected minority, free to practise their religion. It is this Constitution that offered protection of Banu Harith, the Yemeni tribe in our first story. And it is this constitution that inspired every Muslim ruler we have mentioned to protect their Jewish citizens. (16) To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided. (24) The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers. (25) The Jews of the B. ‘Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families. (26-35) The same applies to the Jews of the B. al-Najjar, B. al-Harith, B. Sai ida, B. Jusham, B. al-Aus, B. Tha’laba, and the Jafna, a clan of the Tha‘laba and the B. al-Shutayba. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The freedmen of Tha ‘laba are as themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves. (37) The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery. A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped. (38) The Jews must pay with the believers so long as war lasts. (46) The Jews of al-Aus, their freedmen and themselves have the same standing with the people of this document in purely loyalty from the people of this document. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who acquires ought acquires it for himself. God approves of this document.
After reading this… do you feel guilty? Believe me you’re near us. Yes, you read this from a muslim. You’re one of the children of our father Abraham. We have the same father. We should unite and respect each other. I know there are plenty Jews who are totally against you, and they are loving us. It should be like that. Brotherhood.
No religion hates us. A religion simply can’t hate. Its like we say Spain hates us. Ever heard of a country hating something? Let me ignore this, and let’s talk further. We tolerate every religion. We believe in Moses and Jesus they are our prophets, and they are very important, because you know what? I’m not a muslim if I don’t believe in them. We believe in the Thorah and the Bible. We believed they were the Words of God. It’s mentioned in the Quran several times. Nobody hates us. Nobody hates muslims. The only ones who hates muslims are ignorant people who think that what the media shows represents us, not knowing it has not even a single thing to do with us.
Don’t kill anyone:
Both the Mishna and the Quran state ‘Whoever destroys a single life is as though he had destroyed the entire world, and whoever saves a single life is as if he had saved the entire world’