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Doing it without the Fez on


The last place I was expecting to go for a party in Morocco was Moulay Idriss.  It’s the holiest city in the country, named after the man who founded it and brought Islam to Morocco.  Until quite recently, non-Muslims were not supposed to sleep within its whitewashed walls, although they could visit by day.

So it’s a bold move by those behind the popular Cafe Clock in Fez to open a restaurant, the Scorpion House, to try to attract more visitors both here and to the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis.  Mike, the owner, invites my children and me to attend the opening party for staff and friends.

The restaurant has a truly spectacular position on the terraces above the green-roofed mausoleum of the saint.  The music and dancing are intense.  At one point a young woman gets overcome by the emotion of the moment and faints, apparently overcome by the djinns, spirits.  Once he’s checked that she’s all right, Mike seems pleased:  “shows it’s a real party.”

This stay in  Morocco is a chance to check out what the impact has been of the Arab Spring.  Aside from the bombing of a cafe in Marrakesh, there’s been little in the Western news about its effect on one of the Arab countries that is most visited.  The King and his government pride themselves on an ecumenical approach – there are Jews and Sufis in important positions – but power is still not equally shared.  No one would call the country truly democratic.  And many Turkish families still send their daughters here to be educated, as while wearing a veil in Turkish universities is banned, as befits a secular state, it is perfectly permissible here.

The King is well-respected and has announced a wide-ranging review of the constitution, but Morocco has a potent mix of foreign investment and visitors, and a well-educated younger generation with a desire for equality.  Expect more djinns to be released.

See Getting Lost in Fez text or as printed 

  1. Anne Graaff
    June 17th, 2011 at 09:02 | #1

    Nice. Great pic of the saintly city. A friend here in Paris tells me that the Arab Spring is known in France as the Jasmine Spring. The irresistible aroma of liberties is in the air in Morocco. I sensed that when I visited the university in Fes with Owen and Daisy. Perhaps there the jasmine djinns will swoon away the head-scarfs of many more female students. Great if those scarves could flutter for a while over Fes like the those perennially swooping swallows before they dip down into the old dust. Nice if the Jasmine Spring could begin to bring forth a greater degree of free choice of dress and action, as opposed to the socially and politically enforced codes that enclose and limit the lives of many Islamic women and also men.

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