Morocco: War Over Condoms in the Battle Against AIDS
January 27, 2006
A fundraising telethon held last month by the Moroccan Association for the Fight Against AIDS (MAFAA) has come under fire from Islamists who accuse the group of spreading "the culture of the condom" in its efforts to raise AIDS awareness.
The Dec. 9 telethon raised $295,000 for people living with HIV/AIDS. Many artists from Morocco and other countries participated in the event, and some HIV-positive people shared their stories on air.
But groups associated with the Islamist Party (PJD) condemned the association for "copying foreign programs and trying to implement them in Moroccan society without regard to Morocco as an Islamic county." "The telethon held up the use of condoms as the best way to protect oneself from HIV," a long article in the PJD daily Attajdid said. "Fidelity to religion and marriage," it argued, are the best way to fight AIDS, which it called "divine punishment."
This is not the first time PJD has protested HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts. It launched a similar campaign against a cartoon book designed to make young people aware of the dangers of AIDS and the use of condoms to prevent it. The publishers were criticized for using a mosque as a background in some the cartoons.
But Mohamed Janboubi, author of the bestseller "Marabouts in Morocco", which showed that ancient Moroccan religious leaders fought fundamentalism and obscurantism, said the PJD position is "a too narrow comprehension of Islam, and is an attempt to impose this comprehension on others." "The problem is not an event, a telethon, an initiative or even a condom or a sexual culture," said Janboubi. "The problem is the attempt to stop the evolution of society."
About 16,000 of Morocco's 32 million people have HIV/AIDS, according to MAFAA. But because no accurate official figures are available, the incidence could be much higher.
Inter Press Service
01.26.2006; Abderrahim El Ouali
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.