Islamists in Morocco?

I was in Morocco less that two weeks ago on holiday, and this doesn’t sound like the place I visited.

Writing in the Times, Amir Taheri warns of rising Islamism in North Africa, especially Morocco:

Women in jeans or mini-skirts have all but disappeared from public, along with all females who favoured the colourful dress of the Berber. One sees countless women draped in black that remind one of Hitchcock’s The Birds. … Fewer and fewer places serve alcohol, and parts of the main cities are becoming no-go areas for foreign tourists.

I was in Morocco less that two weeks ago on holiday, and this doesn’t sound like the place I visited. It was difficult, though not impossible, to get alcohol in the old Medinas, but outside the city walls it was not a problem. And I remember being surprised at seeing young, local girls in Western clothing – not hot-pants, admittedly, but certainly figure-hugging outfits, strappy tops, make-up and jeans. Likewise with the Berber outfits, of which we saw plenty. Indeed, it was the black-clad munaqqaba who stood out, because they were an unusual sight. Its true that hijabs reign, but that’s not in itself a sign of Islamic extremism.

Nor did there appear to be any no-go areas for tourists. Indeed, our favourite afternoon was in Meknes, where we cautiously wandered into the back alleys of the Medina, to escape the pungent smell of the souqs. Far from feeling threatened or harassed, we were greeted with smiles and ‘hellos’ around every corner.

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