By El-Houssine Lahsini
By El-Houssine Lahsini
Morocco World News
Casablanca, May 13, 2012
In Morocco, politicians have long used religion as a tool to pacify people. In fact, politicians firmly believe that the only way to control the masses is to control their religion. Failure to do so would undoubtedly threatens the lofty societal positions and status of politicians. If one were to inquire why people are controlled via religion, the answer would be very simple. In Morocco, religion occupies a big part of daily life and is reflected in the way people communicate, dress and eat. Controlling the daily manifestations of religion allows politicians to play on people‘s fears and beliefs and render them easy prey for political manipulation.
One example of Morocco’s politicization of religion can be found in a speech by the king Mohamed VI on constitutional reforms. When the king delivered a speech as a quick response to people’s demands for reforms, politicians immediately put his proposal of the new constitution into practice. After the king asked people to vote for the constitutional reforms, the ministry of Islamic affairs took it for granted by obliging preachers all over the country to categorize voting for the constitution a religious act. This meant that voting for the constitution represents their loyalty to the king who rules the nation and functions as the Commander of the Faithful.
The reaction of decision makers to the king’s proposal reveals the relationship between the king, decision makers and the people. This relationship is, to some extent, similar to that of a God who designs the future and the people who unquestionably accept it as is. Decision makers failed to discharge their duty when they did not question the proposed changes, probably believing that the new constitution is a perfect model of democracy. In turn, they unofficially sanctioned the vote of ‘yes’ for the new constitution and pressured religious preachers to influence their parishioner‘s minds. The mosque ceased to be a place of religion and became a forum for politics and administrative decisions that Moroccans are “forced” to accept. The mosques effectively became the parliament of the country where laws were lobbied and eventually approved.
With greater manipulation by politicians, and acquiescence by preachers, religion is no longer in the personal domain where it could be safe from corruption. Instead, religion becomes a public discourse vulnerable to co-option by state officials who are too afraid of people truly understanding their religious rights and obligations. This is no coincidence as far as understanding the true principles of religion is a threat to the legitimacy of any regime. Critical understanding of religion empowers people to bring down totalitarianism and fight corruption. This is why politicians have meddled with religion so as to render it a mere set of hollow beliefs, repetitive rituals and mind numbing traditions.
As a result of the politicization of religion, many Moroccans have become quite ignorant about the basic principles of their religion because they blindly accept whatever is said in the mosque. They are estranged from society and detached from reality because, for them, the only acceptable truth is the one presented during the Friday sermons.
In Morocco, the time has come to separate politics from religion. While this will not happen quickly, people need to engage in a personal reassessment of how they think and how they see things. People should also begin serious evaluation of past traditions and customs and start a process of critical thinking and questioning. As Bernard Williams said, “everything is arbitrary, everything is changeable…so what is man but a reformer, a re-maker of what our fathers took for granted, for a long time, and we the masses conformed to their beliefs.
Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
El Houssine Lahsini is an MA student of “Moroccan American Studies” at Hassan II University/ faculty of Humanities/Ben M’sik, Casablanca. He holds a Bachelor degree in ‘English Studies’ and Licence Professionnelle in ‘English Language Teaching (ELT) from Chouaib Dokkali University-El Jadida. His is interested in applied linguistics, postcolonial studies, Gender Studies and Historiography.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved