A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, February 19, 2010

Morocco Has a Prohibition Law?

Okay, this AFP report surprised me. It appears that Morocco has a law dating from a Royal Decree in 1967 forbidding the sale of alcohol to Moroccan Muslims. Now I haven't been in Morocco in years, but I do recall spending time 20 or more years ago (but long since 1967) in bars where the entire clientele, except me, was native Arabic-speaking. So either Morocco's Jewish population (which indeed is one of the larger still remaining in the Arab world) is a lot bigger than I realized, or there's a big Arabic-speaking Christian minority that has been missed by the ethnographers, or (as the article notes), the decree is honored entirely in the breach.

Morocco has a domestic wine industry and also a flourishing beer industry, (despite an unfortunate tendency, like other Maghreb states, to define proper-tasting beer the way French person might). The AFP report quotes Islamists who want to enforce the Royal Decree and secularists who want to repeal it.

I wonder what the King thinks? I seem to recall some European press coverage when he was Heir Apparent . . . nah, I won't go there.


Jillian said...

Oh yes it does. It's almost never enforced, save for during Ramadan of course (when even an Egyptian Christian will have a hard time buying alcohol with a passport).

There was an interesting article last year (NYT maybe?) on Les Celliers de Meknes, Morocco's largest wine producer that mentioned the law, I'll look for it.

Incidentally, I taught English to a distribution team from Les Celliers when I lived in Meknes; all were Muslim, as are the owners of the winery. The law is just for show.

Jillian said...

And here's the piece from last year: