Rabat- Moroccan social media users have called for a boycott of the Jazz au Chellah festival in Rabat over the alleged killing of cats and dogs.
Every year, the “Jazz in the Chellah” festival brings jazz lovers to Rabat’s archaeological landmark, the Chellah. But this year the festival has been caught in a controversy involving the killing of stray cats and dogs in Chellah.
Some have alleged that the festival organizers ordered the killing of cats and dogs to “clean” the area from animals with rabies before the festival on September 12-16.
In response, administrators of the festival’s official Facebook page posted a photo of a cat sitting at the entrance of the necropolis, next to the caption: “Cats of the Chellah were the first to attend the first show of the festival’s 23rd version.”
The administrators denied the allegations, calling them “fake news.”
The post was not received well by the festival’s followers who threatened to boycott the festival, arguing if it was not true then “where did all the cats go?”
Morocco World News contacted the festival organizers, but they declined to respond.
A young animal welfare activist, Hajar Benallal, shared her story with Morocco World News, stating that she received a call from a friend who told her that some individuals put cats in cages and took them away, leaving only one kitten behind.
Hajar, who has worked independently for seven years to help feed and neuter cats and dogs in Rabat, said that it should be the responsibility of the municipality to care for the animals.
“How can we say it’s a muslim country while people shoot animals that can’t even defend themselves … Since they are born the only thing they know is fear and hunger, and people treat them so badly. I lost so many animals i was taking care of all those year,” she stated.
“Instead of killing, shooting and poisoning cats and dogs,” she said, people should sterilize animals because it is “the only way to protect them but also eradicate rabies.”
Hajar rues the lack of action from animal welfare organizations in Morocco, stressing that organizations should fight for laws to protect the animals.
A petition for a law to protect animals
In addition to the new progressive laws in Morocco, such as the law on violence against women, the law on the protection of domestic employees, and the law against real estate fraud, could there be a law on the protection of animals in the future?
Many Moroccans, including animal welfare activists, have repeatedly launched petitions calling for a law that criminalizes cruelty to animals across the country.
The latest petition, launched by the Association for Vegetarians in Morocco, asserted: “Denying the average living conditions of animals will not improve those of humans knowing that as much [as] it is … a political case, it’s also a deontological one.”
The petition concluded: “We demand immediate enactment of laws protecting animals in Morocco.”
The petition was followed by hashtags on Facebook such as #boycott #Chellah, calling for an immediate boycott of the festival.
Animal abuse in Morocco is not uncommon. Some of the recent publicized acts of violence took place in April, when dozens of stray dogs were shot in the coastal city of Agadir ahead of the FIFA task force visit to assess Morocco’s eligibility to host the 2026 World Cup.
Photos and videos of the “gruesome incident” made international headlines, both shocking and angering people.
Animals continue to be vulnerable to acts of violence, and there is not a law that punishes the abuse. It remains to be seen whether Morocco will enact legal punishments for cruelty and inhumanity towards animals.