News of the inauguration of a sex shop in the Moroccan city of Casablanca did not stir the ethical and religious controversy expected to take place in a conservative society, but also took a political dimension as suspicions arose over an anti-government ploy. The timing of the inauguration of the first sex shop in Morocco drove several activists to view the action as a political one aimed at embarrassing the new Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane appointed in November 2011. As their comments on social networking websites Facebook and Twitter revealed, they argued that the news might not be true in the first place and that the revolutionary February 20 Youth Movement, known for its criticism of Benkirane and his Islamist Justice and Development Party and for its protests demanding democratic reforms, might have spread this rumor on purpose.
Activists explained that it is quite expected from a group that has previously waved a picture of the prime minister awaiting execution by the guillotine to devise such a plan to place him in an awkward situation. This, they said, was made clear by the fact that all the websites that posted the news started their stories with the same sentence: “Under an Islamist government, a sex shop has been inaugurated.” The lie, they added, was exposed when some skeptics went to the address mentioned in the stories and found out that it is located in a working class area. “There is no way residents of a working class area would allow the opening of a sex shop,” wrote one activist. “Those neighborhoods are usually conservative and take pride in their Islamic identity.” The address of the supposed store, added the activist who went there with a friend, turned out to be the house of a modest family that knows nothing about the whole issue. “Looks like members of the atheist February 20 Movement have nothing to think about except sex,” wrote the same activist. On the other hand, several Moroccan activists slammed linking sex shop reports to a conspiracy against Benkirane. “Does Benkirane represent all Moroccans?” an activist called Hamadi wrote. “Benkirane is only a symbol of hypocrisy and it is not a surprise that this sex shop and other similar ones be opened under his government.” Another activist, who writes under the nickname al-Aati Allah, argued that seeing the corrupt behind bars is much more important than the opening of sex shops. “Stealing the money of poor Moroccans is the reason for corruption and not the sale of sex toys or alcohol or even drugs,” he wrote. Another activist objected to accusing the February 20 Movement or the journalists who reported the news of the sex shop opening of conspiring against the prime minister. “Maybe the shop existed but was closed after the fuss it created or maybe whoever wrote the story did not go there personally to verify the address,” she wrote. The February 20 Movement, she added, is not the only opposition power in the country and several other parties would want to attack the government. “People understood the news based on what they wanted to see. In all cases, a suspect is innocent till proven guilty as they say.” According to the news website Febrayer.com, sex aides have always been sold in Morocco but in secret and under the guise of cosmetics. The trade’s popularity and high profitability drove a group of youth to open the shop. The first shop to sell sex products publicly, the report added, is said to be located in Jamila, a densely-populated neighborhood in Morocco’s financial capital Casablanca. According to the website, the shop specializes in selling ointments, pills, and other substances that enhance sexual performance as well as apparel.
By Talaat al-Maghrabi