In the fabled Moderate Morocco, a movie depicting a romance between a Jewish boy and a Muslim girl offends sensibilities — after all this is forbidden by Islamic law, and that matters even in Morocco.
From AP, with thanks to Twostellas:
CASABLANCA, Morocco — In a darkened lane the young lovers crouch and caress. The girl leans to kiss the boy, then hesitates. He removes the Star of David pendant hanging from his neck and fastens it around hers, where she can no longer see it.
“This way, you’ll think of other things,” he says gently.
The scene is just one of many provocative moments in the movie “Marock,” a story of Jewish-Muslim love challenging taboos in this traditional Muslim society and provoking Islamic politicians’ ire.
The movie only won general release on screens here this week — nearly a year after it showed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 — following a long vetting by government censors, who made no cuts.
Prior to public release, the movie also appeared in festivals in Casablanca and Tangiers, provoking both critical acclaim and debate over whether it was appropriate for Moroccan audiences.
Acclaimed Moroccan director Mohamed Asli said “Marock” did not deserve inclusion in the festivals because it was “not a real Moroccan film,” although he subsequently told a magazine that he welcomed the public release because it would open debate. Some critics claimed to detect sinister Zionist propaganda in the depicted Jewish-Muslim romance.
The Justice and Development Party, Morocco’s increasingly popular Islamist political party, has led the charge against “Marock,” claiming that it breaks a Moroccan law forbidding offense to Islam. The party plans to press the government on whether it has fully upheld the law.
“It’s a mockery of Moroccan spiritual life,” said Abdelkader Amara, a member of the PJD’s general secretariat. “It presents Moroccans as if they don’t adhere to their religion. But that’s not true.”
The film follows Rita, a rebellious daughter of Casablanca’s thin upper crust, as she and her friends approach the end of high school, and then adulthood. Along the way, they gulp whiskey, smoke hashish, party, eat during Ramadan, and indulge in romantic intrigue.
Rita’s youthful hedonism gets complicated when she falls for handsome daredevil Youri, a Jew. While her friends accept the affair, she must hide it from her tradition-bound parents and religiously conservative older brother.
“I don’t care about religion,” Rita tells Youri. “I just want to be able to kiss you where I want and when I want.”…
In the cinema, the mostly young audience sighed during the tender scenes in which Rita and Youri managed to snatch a few happy moments alone. But for some of them, the symbolism of the Star of David went too far.
“That the girl accepted (the necklace), that bothers me” said Amal Rohda, 17. “I would never have done that.”