Pictures of candidates for Belgium Beauty Queen 2013 taken at Morocco’s largest mosque have stirred controversy in the North African kingdom, whose government is led by an Islamist party that won an election last year.This is not an ancient, venerated mosque. It was built in 1993:
The pictures, being circulated online, raised questions about the responsible government agencies that granted the license for the photo shoot of the belles of Belgium in their tank tops and short shorts in the square of Casablanca's Hassan II Mosque.
Popular Moroccan news website Hespress quoted a source from the ministry of Islamic affairs denying any role for the ministry in the incident and pointing fingers at the mosque’s administration, which is in charge of the overall management of one of the world's largest Islamic landmarks.
Casablanca’s city council has also distanced itself from the incident. One of its members said the council did not authorize the photo shoot at the mosque.
Hespress quoted prominent religious preacher Sheikh Abdul-Bari Zamzami as holding the interior ministry responsible for the incident.
Some people saw the incident as unacceptable and called for the responsible parties to be held accountable. Others expressed disinterest stressing the mosque lacks serious religious significance because it was built as “tourist destination not as a house of worship.”
“I have never prayed in this Mosque and I do not qualify it as a real Mosque. We all know that this mosque has been forcefully built by robbing and stealing the pockets of million Moroccans under various authority threats,” one person commented on Hespress.
Another one said, “Farce after farce; does it make sense that such moral crimes take place in Morocco, especially under the rule of the Islamist Justice and Development Party.”
The Hassan II Mosque is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest mosque in the country and the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world's tallest at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau and built by Bouygues. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, the sea bed being visible through the glass floor of the building's hall. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque's outside grounds.