Raba – During an informal press conference Wednesday in Rabat, the Minister of Youth and Sports lambasted some religious practices during children’s holiday camps. Rachid Talbi Alami, who made a scathing attack on the performance of Al-Fajr and Friday prayers on children’s holiday camps, is said to have been particularly addressing his criticisms to scout organizations sympathetic towards the PJD (Justice and Development Party).
“It is forbidden to wake children up at 3 am during holiday camps for performing Al Fajr prayer”, the minister told journalists on Wednesday.
Rachid Talbi Almi, who is a known sympathizer, and member of the executive committee of the Centre-Right party RNI (National Rally of Independents), also said in his conference that “We cannot tolerate that children be expected to sit in the sun during Friday prayers.”
He also announced that his ministry is working on programs aimed at countering such practices and especially conceived for holiday camps, warning that “Associations that do not respect the rules and regulations that the new programs will introduce won’t be authorized to organize holiday camps.”
Some associations and observers have perceived the minister’s comments as a “not-so-veiled hostility” towards associations and youth organizations close to the PJD.
Sâad Hazim, president of Ar-Rouad, one of the associations that the minister’s comments supposedly targeted, is alleged to have retorted to Talbi Alami’s remarks by saying that they are “statements full of fallacies. The first one being the allegation that those children are forced to perform Al Fajr, which is a lie.” He allegedly explained that children who take part in the activities organized by his association are not forced to do anything. “They spontaneously perform their prayers, having been used to doing so in their family homes.”
“Children can’t be prohibited from praying, just as they can’t be told to pray, as many of them have not yet reached the legal age for that”, Sâad Hazim was quoted as also saying.
Sâad Hazim, however, seems to share the Youth and Sports Minister’s opinion on children’s prolonged exposure to the sun during Friday prayers.
“I do not remember that we ever put children in such a position.”
“I am of the minister’s opinion when he lambastes the singing to children of lyrics that do not correspond to their age”, Hazim concluded, citing, by way of example, the singer Chaabi Zina Daoudia, whose lyrics and songs he deemed inappropriate and “incompatible” with a very young audience.