an “ideological conflict extended over time”

For the majority of Moroccans, the month of Ramadan is a time of reflection, sharing and of course fasting. But for non-Muslims living in countries where fasting is the norm, or even an obligation, Ramadan can then prove to be a heavy burden.

The return to the debate on article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which prescribes a prison sentence for all those who openly and publicly break the fast during the month of Ramadan, which divides the Moroccan social fabric. Indeed, some believe that the abolition of this article leads to a detachment from modernity and a killing of individual freedoms. For others, this article is the legal reward for an act which they perceive as an attack on a moral or religious value.

Demands to abolish article 222 of the Penal Code, which states that “anyone who is known to embrace the Islamic religion and who publicly breaks the fast during the day of Ramadan in a public place, without lawful excuse, will be punished with imprisonment from one to six months, and a fine. “Finance from 12 to 120 dirhams” comes back to the Moroccan public debate.
This old debate is often animated by two different positions presented by those who link the ostensible breaking of the fast to the category of individual freedoms, and those who consider that the law does not criminalize the breaking of the fast in itself, but criminalizes the ostensible breaking of the fast in a public place.

Section 222 in the face of conservative perception

In an interview with MoroccoLatestNews FR, the president of the Local Ulema Council of the prefecture of Skhirat-Témara, Lahcen Ben Brahim Sguenfle, argues that “fasting during the month of Ramadan is obligatory for all healthy adult Muslims”, continues he in his speech.

According to our interlocutor, individual freedom “is guaranteed to all who live under the auspices of the State and under its care, because it is the incubator and guarantor of these freedoms through the laws that regulate them so that they do not turn into an infringement to the liberty and sanctity of others. And all the countries of the world protect the general feeling which reigns globally among the citizens.he continues in his speech.

Moreover, the consequences of such calls are invitations “are invitations to sedition, disregard for the feelings of believers and a departure from the consensus of the nation, and whoever wants to violate the sanctity of Ramadan by breaking the fast, c It’s his business as long as he’s hidden. A person breaks his fast in his house, no one pays attention to him, because the fasting person means by his work the encounter with God, and the one who wants to disobey God. God will judge him, but if he wants to seduce the people in their religion and their feelings, it is not individual freedom, it is rather a transgression and an aggression against the State that must be repelled, because repelling the corruption takes precedence over bringing interest,” he says.

The need for a progressive reading of article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code

Ahmed Assid, an Amazigh Moroccan intellectual and writer, argues that “The Moroccan Penal Code in general is an outdated text, established in 1962 for a Moroccan society which was moving away from tradition towards institutional and socio-cultural modernization”he laments.

Moreover, Assid believes that “The legal arsenal is important, in particular the constitution, and the obligations of the Moroccan state which have made progress in the field of human rights. The constitution stipulating the supremacy of international treaties over national legislation and stipulating respect for freedoms, and at the same time, society itself has resolved many conflicts related to individual freedoms in favor of development and maturity despite the passing wave of political Islam which has caused some temporary confusion, but has failed to take control of the state and bring us back to the old systems of closed relations”he pointed out.

On the other hand, the Amazigh intellectual predicts that “Moroccan society has experienced a remarkable growth in public debate on the issue of freedoms, and the demands for liberation from young people have increased, especially with the presence of social networks. All of this makes the issue of changing the criminal law an inescapable issue that cannot be avoided or delayed, especially since the report on the development model talks about “release of energy”which is not possible without individual freedoms.

Regarding the genesis of article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code, Assid indicates that the latter “no longer needs to be analyzed, it is not a religious article, because Islam does not provide for the punishment those who eat during Ramadan, it is also not a text established by the independent Moroccan state, but rather refers to the stage of protection, and it was not intended only to prevent the provocations of French colonialists towards Moroccans by eating during the day of Ramadan, a justification that no longer makes sense today, as we are no longer in colonialism, and those who eat are Moroccans and not foreign colonialists who provoke the moroccan fast »

To conclude, Assid adds that the abolition of this article is not enough, because society must be educated in the principle of acceptance of difference and respect for others. The state recognizes the individual’s right to choose their way of life without coercion, and this is found in religion itself, but the state and Moroccan education in general tends towards violence and coercion and alienate the value of freedom, and that is why people do not feel happy, whether they are religious or otherwise, because happiness is not related to materialism, but to symbolic values, the first of which is freedom .



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