Hostile campaign forces Saudi preacher to postpone Morocco visit
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.