Rabat – As part of a diversity program sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, the Moroccan flag was raised in front of the city hall in an official ceremony on July 15, intended to celebrate Moroccan Americans.
The ceremony was held in the presence of city officials, and, strangely, the Moorish Science Temple of America. No Moroccan representatives or diplomats were present.
The Temple said the ceremony was for the benefit of “all people of Moorish descent reaffirming their pursuit of Justice, Liberty, and Independence,” and “dedicated to the descendants of the Moroccan empire in the Americas.”
“Welcome to Philadelphia, home of the Moorish American community,” said a Temple representative, at the start of the ceremony, donning one of Morocco’s fez hats, all members of the Temple are required to wear.
“We are here today to celebrate Morocco day in the spirit of Moorish independence,” continued the Temple member. “Today we honor the principles of love, peace, freedom, and justice.”
Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bay, from the Moorish Science Temple of America, then took to the stage. “I give praise to Almighty Allah because this day would not be possible if it wasn’t for the will of Allah,” said Hopkins-Bay.
“I also give honor to Noble Drew Ali, the founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America, for reintroducing us to the Moorish flag, that is over 10,000 years old,” he continued.
What is the Moorish Science Temple of America?
The Moorish Science Temple of America was founded on the premise that African Americans are descendants of the Moorish people, and thus Islamic by faith. The group was founded in Chicago, which its founder, Drew Ali, believed would “become a second Meccca.” Today, the Temple members refer to Ali as the “Great Prophet.”
The group also claims to possess a secret part of the Quran that confirms this belief, which they refer to as the “Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America.”
The group pledges allegiance to the Kingdom of Morocco and King Mohammed VI.
The group, chosen to officially represent Morocco at this event, has been subjected to negative press and speculation since its founding in 1913, and was at one point labeled as a cult by the FBI.
Its members have also been known to file false legal documents in various municipalities around the United States. The documents include fake liens, deeds, and property claims.
However, the Moorish Science Temple has disavowed any affiliation with those filing the false documents, calling them “radical and subversive fringe groups.”
Some found it strange that the Moorish Science Temple of America was chosen to represent Morocco at the official event. The Temple has no official affiliation with Morocco and there were no Moroccan nationals present, although the Temple members claim to hold “Moorish nationality.”
The Temple members also referred to the flag as the “Moorish flag,” not once referring to it by its official status as the Moroccan flag.
One viewer of the video contacted Morocco World News to express his disbelief of the situation. “The people presented as Moroccans are African Americans from a sect. The city representative talks about Moroccan Americans in her speech but the people around her have nothing to do with Morocco!” he said.
“How can something like this happen at a very official event, and are the Moroccan American community aware of this imposture?” he asked.
Mayor Jim Kenney Proclaims July 15 Morocco Day in Philadelphia
After the Grand Sheik’s speech, a City Representative of Philadelphia, Sheila Hess, took to the podium. “It is a great honor to be here today to celebrate the Moroccan community within our city of Philadelphia,” she said.
“Today’s ceremonial flag-raising is a celebration of the many contributions and achievements with ties to the beautiful nation of Morocco,” Hess continued. It is again important to note that the Temple does not have ties to Morocco.
“Our Moroccan American community is part of our treasured diversity and is a shining example of the success of our founder’s vision to create a city that is a beacon of tolerance and freedom,” said Hess.
“Mayor Jim Kenney, who could not be here today, has issued a proclamation making today, (July 15) Morocco Day in the city of Philadelphia.”
Hess then read an excerpt from Mayor Jim Kenney’s proclamation. “The city of Philadelphia is proud to be the home of choice for many people of the descent of the nation of Morocco,” read the proclamation.
While the Temple representing Morocco at the ceremony believes all African Americans are Moors descended from northwest Africa, this contests the generally-accepted origins of African-Americans.
“The Moroccan-American residents proudly share their heritage with their fellow Philadelphians, and over generations have greatly impacted our population, our culture, our political landscape, religious diversity, the economy, and the arts scene in our city,” continues the proclamation.
“I, Jim Kenney, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, declare July 15 Morocco Day, and we urge all citizens to be aware of the many contributions Moroccan-American residents, who are such an integral part of Philadelphia’s continued development and vibrancy,” finished the proclamation.
After Hess and the Grand Sheik posed for a photo-op, the flag-raising ceremony began.
Once the flag had been raised, the Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bay led a march in front of the city hall with other members of his congregation. “We are the Moors, the Mighty Mighty Moors!” chanted the group.