In a recent statement to CNN Arabic, Morocco's minister of tourism Lahcen Haddad affirmed that he opposes the decriminalization of extramarital relations and that he is open to trying to find a compromise on the issue of homosexuality-- which he considers to be a matter of personal freedom.
His statements come as a striking affront to the official position of his government, as expressed by Minister of Justice Moustapha Ramid, who is dogmatically attached to the criminalization of same-sex marriages.
Humanists and democrats embraced Minister Haddad's statements-- since they exemplified that Islam is not homophobic. However, it is regrettable that the minister then retracted his remarks, saying in a subsequent statement that his party has not taken a position on this issue, and that it wasn't on their agenda.
"The criminalization of same-sex marriages violates the traditions of tolerance of the Kingdom, and Islamic values."
At the same time, he said that, "one of the founding principles of the People's Movement party is freedom, in accordance with traditions and values," of society, and that, "decriminalizing this issue remains subject to the respect of these values and with respect to the new Constitution."
Haddad concluded his statement by saying that this debate comes in the context of a question concerning the draft of the Penal Code, and "the need to find a compromise between the principles of freedom, which are universally enshrined in international conventions, and the idiosyncrasies of Moroccan society and private life, its traditions and the provisions of the Constitution."
"Islam prohibits injustice."
This statement exemplifies an irregularity in the minister's ideas-- which mix contradictory principles and false truths. He makes the assumption that respect for the traditions and values of society would be put in question by the decriminalization of homosexuality; it is the criminalization of same-sex marriages that violates the traditions of tolerance of the Kingdom, and Islamic values. A correct reading of such values would instead impose decriminalization. Indeed, these values demand a respect for privacy, and the recognition of the sacredness of private life, as well as the freedoms connected to privacy-- such as homosexuality and sexual relations between consenting adults.
It is for these reasons that we must, without delay, abolish Article 489 of the Criminal Code, because upholding it is not only a flagrant injustice to innocent victims, but more importantly, a serious breach of properly interpreted Islamic precepts. Such an offense to religion and to the values and traditions of Morocco demands, contrary to what is suggested by the minister, that we not wait for a consensus in the debate on the new draft of the Penal Code: Islam prohibits injustice and demands its immediate removal.
Indeed, injustice introduced by section 489 occurs daily, because it combines several issues that violate Islam, the Constitution, and international conventions, as they violate the traditions of Moroccan society and its ancestral habits of tolerance and respect for privacy.
It is therefore of utmost importance that the minister of tourism's party acts logically, and quickly takes the initiative to propose a draft law repealing that section, on behalf of Islam, and to hasten the cessation of the injustice faced by innocent victims.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Morocco. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.