Hostile campaign forces Saudi preacher to postpone Morocco visit

Friday 16/10/2015
Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Arifi

Casablanca - Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Arifi postponed a trip to Morocco, where he was to have participated in a conference on the Quran, following a campaign in which non-governmental organisations and activists called on the govern­ment to ban Arifi’s visit because of his controversial fatwas .
Arifi, who was invited by the Oneness and Reform Movement (MUR), announced on his Face­book page that he called off his trip to Morocco after reading about the controversy surrounding his visit. MUR is affiliated with the ruling Islamist Party of Justice and Devel­opment.
“For the sake of not raising this tension nor causing embarrass­ment to the Moroccan regime or the organisers of my visit, I de­layed it until further notice while stressing my love and appreciation to all Moroccans,” Arifi posted on Facebook on October 11th.
Non-governmental organisation Bayt al-Hikma denounced Arifi’s visit in an October 7th statement. The Rabat-based association criti­cised the event, which “under­mines Morocco’s Islam. which is based on moderation”.
Arifi was to have taken part in The Role of the Quran in Shaping Humans conference, which was scheduled for October 25th in Ra­bat.
A video of Arifi from 2010 calling for daughters who are not prop­erly dressed not to be left alone in a room with their fathers for fear of triggering sexual desires went viral on social networks, sparking condemnation from activists and human rights organisations.
He later played down the con­troversial fatwa on his Twitter ac­count, saying it was an isolated case of a mother who was com­plaining to him about her husband who was molesting their daughter.
Abdellah El-Alaoui slammed Ar­ifi’s fatwa on Facebook as “a prag­matic analysis of a pervert Wah­habi thought”.
Bayt al-Hikma also questioned the motives behind the initiative, which is against “rationalism, val­ues of cohabitation, dialogue and respect of all differences”, calling all parties to oppose it.
It considered the initiative as di­rect MUR support to takfiri speech, which incites hatred, violence and extremism. Activists launched an online petition calling for a govern­ment ban on the Arifi conference because of the Saudi preacher’s fatwas.
The petition, which has more than 1,300 signatures, accuses Ari­fi of inciting sedition, violence and fighting by his many fatwas, such as supporting al-Qaeda. Arifi’s sup­porters launched a counter peti­tion welcoming him to Morocco. It had a similar number of signatures as the anti-Arifi petition.