Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Moroccans Split on Alcohol Ban

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This transaction, shot on hidden camera inside a Moroccan

liquor store, is against the law. In principle.

In practice, it's more complicated.

It's ambiguous. It's very ambiguous.

Jamal Latifi is general manager of a bar and restaurant

that's an institution in Rabat.

It's a personal choice, of course. It's a personal choice.

I'm a good Muslim. I fast during Ramadan. I pray.

I celebrate the Islamic holidays.

But when you have a good bottle of wine, I'm ready.

A 1967 royal decree prohibits the sale of alcohol to Muslims,

98 percent of Morocco's population.

Officially, bars and liquor stores serve only foreigners.

And in theory, its 123,000 acres of vineyards produce wine for tourists.

But even the government admits the law is rarely enforced.

And in practice, legions of Moroccans buy alcohol in stores,

and drink it in restaurants.

When you have an alcohol license, it's written in black and white

that it's strictly forbidden to serve alcohol to Muslims.

It's written down, but it's tolerated.

In the last several months, some Islamists here have been pushing

to change the status quo. A cleric named Ahmed Raissouni

published a religious edict, or fatwa, on the Internet in December,

urging Muslims to boycott any supermarket that sells alcohol.

Raissouni has ties with the Justice and Development Party,

Morocco's Islamist opposition. Party leaders have downplayed

his fatwa, but maintain that the 1967 royal decree needs to be enforced.

The trend worldwide is the fight against alcoholism.

It's not to open the gates for alcohol.

So we've said, let's maintain the law.

And sometimes we push the government to apply the law.

But the fatwa has prompted Moroccan civil liberties activists to put forth

their own demand: that the ban on selling alcohol be lifted.

This law is a little hypocritical, and it's not realistic.

Rouissi says the ban should be replaced

with laws against selling alcohol to minors and drunk driving,

and be paired with an education campaign.

We have to increase public awareness.

Right now, consumption is increasing under the ban.

The debate seems to represent a struggle between two

opposing visions of Moroccan Islam.

There are people who want to please the West.

It's unfortunate that they believe modernity requires we sell alcohol,

we have to have prostitution, we have to have homosexuals,

we must become more liberal.

Because, unfortunately, there's pressure from outside.

Rouissi argues the Islamists are themselves serving

an outside agenda by importing a less tolerant,

un-Moroccan form of Islam.

These groups, like Raissouni in particular, come from a culture

that's not ours. It's from Wahhabism, from Saudi Arabia,

where there are people who come knock at your door and say,

are you praying? Our parents never accepted this.

The debate continues, but the reality on the ground looks unlikely to change.

The fact remains that booze is big business here in Morocco.

The government makes millions from taxes on liquor imports and sales.

And thousands of Moroccans are legally employed making alcohol here.

Morocco produces 45 million bottles of wine each year.

Some 80 percent are sold domestically.

The social benefits and income in taxes to the state are more

than enough to allow us to continue existing for a long time.

The authorities show no sign of fully enforcing the ban.

Nor has there been any legislative effort to repeal the law.

It looks like the status quo will hold, for now.

The Description of Moroccans Split on Alcohol Ban