Thursday, August 17

Tourists visit Marrakech to ‘sin’, says Moroccan minister

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(AFP) RABAT — A Moroccan minister has caused a stir by saying that tourists visit the southern city of Marrakech “to sin”.

“People from all over the world come and spend a lot of time sinning and being away from God,” Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid from the newly-installed Islamist government said during a visit to a Koranic school in Marrakech.

Ramid, a member of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane’s moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), did not elaborate on his comments which were picked up on video and broadcast on the Internet and social media.

“Islamist ministers are having trouble casting off their religious clothes and dealing with their ministerial jobs,” said Internet news site goud.ma.

The school visited by Ramid is run by Mohamed Maghraoui, an Islamic cleric who caused controversy in September 2008 when he issued a fatwa authorising the marriage of nine-year-old girls.

The legal age for girls to get married in Morocco has been 18 since 2004 but by law family court judges can allow earlier marriages in certain cases, which are common in rural areas.

Ramid’s PJD party took the most seats in November election, and the party now leads a broad coalition.

Tourism is one of the country’s main foreign income earners, with just over 9.3 million tourists visiting Morocco last year.

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