Lee Smith | A Visit to the ‘Place With No Noise’

The reality is that many of the Moroccans I’ve spoken with this trip don’t seem to make too much of their Arab identity, or the various Arab conflicts roiling the larger Middle East and North Africa region. For instance, the sectarianism that divides Sunnis and Shiites from the Levant to the Persian Gulf is lost on most Moroccans. The friend who brought me here is named Hussein who has a twin brother Hassan—named after Muhammad’s grandsons who are major figures in Shia Islam, but these Moroccans are Sunni. Shiite dynasties like the Fatimids played an important role in early Moroccan history, but Ashura, a major Shia festival commemorating the death of Hussein at the hands of Sunni rivals, is very different here than it is in, say, Lebanon. Along the eastern Mediterranean, the youths draw their own blood with whips and swords as penance for not fighting alongside Hussein, but here instead of blood, the Moroccans splash water on each other. It seems the festival started with Moroccan Jews celebrating the exodus from Egypt—the water represents God’s parting of the Red Sea to rescue his people, and then re-flooding the seabed to stop pharaoh.

via A Visit to the ‘Place With No Noise’ | The Weekly Standard.


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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