And, despite the fact that these constant calls are “alienating” tourists (i.e., income), “secular” Muslims are hesitant about speaking out, lest a ridda-inspired jihad comes to their doorsteps. “Uproar over loud prayer calls in Muslim Morocco,” by Alfred de Montesquiou, for AP, August 9:
RABAT, Morocco (AP) “” The muezzins’ calls echo well before daybreak, summoning the Muslim faithful to daily prayers and reminding foreign tourists in the Moroccan capital how far they are from home.
But the rising decibel level is deepening fault lines between a government drive to modernize and a wave of rigorous political Islam.
Morocco, a country of 33 million people, gets more than 7 million tourists a year. And there are worries that some may be put off by the five heavily amplified calls a day, each lasting five minutes, to “hasten to the prayer, hasten to the prayer.”
Muslim purists counter that authorities are compromising religion to please Westerners and the country’s liberal elite.
The frictions are happening in a country that is considered moderate on matters of religion and is a U.S. ally and at a time when there are fears that al-Qaida is establishing itself in North Africa.[…]
Earlier this year Annie Laforet, a Frenchwoman, was blamed for the closure of a mosque next to the luxury guest house she runs in the old town, or medina, of picturesque Marrakech. The claim, which Laforet denied, caused outrage in the local press, and Laforet says she received death threats on Islamist Web sites.
Local authorities backed her denial and then reopened the mosque, from which the prayer call now blares every morning about 4:30 a.m., and then again an hour later.
“It’s a bit loud, but it’s fine,” Laforet said. “Tourists know it’s part of living in the medina.”
Still, Mohammed Darif, a Moroccan political scientist and expert on Islamism, says hard-liners increasingly are depicting the tourist influx as a threat to Muslim values.
The wealthy may support the government’s pro-Western and liberal values, he said. “But the Morocco of poverty, backward countryside and urban slums is increasingly averse to tourism and the internationalized elite.”[…]
Not to mention the simply faithful — irrespective of their economic, social, or educational status.
Islam is the state religion in Morocco and the king is the “Commander of the Believers.” The state trains and appoints all imams, but tends to avoid dictating standards of public behavior.
Criticizing any form of Islamic practice is difficult in the Arab world because no Muslim wants to stand accused of being irreligious, Roy said.
Or, more precisely, no Muslim wants to be accused of apostasy, thereby risking death.