By Jamal Elabiad
By Jamal Elabiad
Morocco World News
Zagoura, Morocco, June 14, 2012
The conclusion I reached after reading Brahim Koulila’s opinion piece on Morocco World News entitled, “Bowing Before the King is a Sign of Respect” was that it contains a large number of fallacies with which he tries to justify why it’s normal to bow before King Mohammed VI and kiss his hand. My sole purpose behind writing this article is to respond to some of the misconceptions the writer used with the aim of defending his point of view about the tradition of kissing the king’s hand and bowing before him.
“Since Morocco is a Muslim country and the ruling family belongs to the pedigree of Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) – the Alaouite are the descendents of his cousin, Ali Ben Abi Talib — these rituals are said to be inspired by the Islamic teachings.”
No one can deny the fact that the North African monarch is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), particularly his cousin Ali Ben Abi Talib. However, the writer’s aim behind opening his piece with this truism is not to remind Moroccans of the origin of the North African kingdom, but to have them believe that kissing the king’s hand is not something new. It dates back to the Prophet’s era. In other words, the writer wants to say that Moroccans should kiss their king’s hand simply because Muslims used to kiss the hand of his ancestors, including Ali Ben Abi Talib.
I really do not know the sources the writer depended on to come to the conclusion that kissing the king’s hand is “said to be inspired by the Islamic teachings.” Is there any Hadith that recommends that? I don’t think so. I can say with confidence that the teachings of Islam are innocent of bowing before the king and kissing his hand. What lies behind that is the absence of democracy in Morocco. In democratic states there is nothing called holy people. Think of Spain and England.
The writer also states, “Sometimes, I wonder, ‘should we shake hands with the monarch as we do with our friends?’ Of course, it does not work. A king must stay a king, and when one meets him, he or she must bow a little bit as a kind of respect.”
How do you know that bowing to the king is a sign of respect and shaking hands with him is a sign of disrespect? Don’t you know that those who used to prostrate before King Hassan II and kiss his hand were the ones who vainly tried to topple his regime through military coups? Mohamed Oufkir is one example in point. Mohamed Oufkir, to remind the writer, is the mastermind of the two military coups that were mounted against King Hassan II in 1971 and 1972.
My point is that the monarch is not in need of people who kiss his hand or prostrate before him. He is in need of people who tell him the truth instead of kissing his hand, as a famous Moroccan politician one day put it. As for shaking hands with the king, it doesn’t mean, for me, that one, when doing so, is disrespectful of the king. It simply means that Moroccans are no longer subjects!
He continues, “Kissing the hand of the monarch has become optional…When the members of Mr. Benkirane’s cabinet were received by the king, most of them did not kiss his hand.”
Very few are the times when the royal palace issued statements clarifying or informing Moroccans about events related to the monarchy. But, as far as I know, it hasn’t issued so far any statement telling Moroccans that kissing the king’s hand is optional or something like. That means there is no official document saying that Moroccans are not obliged to kiss the king’s hand.
Therefore, that the practice of kissing the hand of the monarch has become optional is a mere rumor, and it’s state-controlled media that lie behind spreading it for obvious reasons, one of which is to have the world, particularly the monarchy’s allies, believe that Moroccans do that by choice, not by force.
I know there are people who do not kiss the king’s hand, but those people are only an exception to the rule. And, of course, ministers of the Justice and Development Party are part of the rule, not the exception simply because both kissing the king’s hand and his shoulder belong to the royal protocols. By the way, most ministers of the PJD kissed the king’s shoulder instead of kissing his hand when they were presented to him immediately after the Islamist-led government was formed.
My advice to the writer is that it’s easy to take a paper and start writing, but what’s difficult is to base your writings on reliable sources, not misconceptions. It’s only state-sponsored writers that try to mislead readers through the use of fallacies. I hope Brahim Koulila is not one of them.
The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.