Monday, 22 July 2013
Is a rock concert in a public place compatible with the spirituality required by Ramadan, the month of Muslim fasting? To this question the government of Melilla, of the Partido Popular [tn: mainstream right-wing party in Spain, currently in government], and the main party of opposition, almost entirely Muslim, give diametrically opposed responses.

For days they have been involved in an unprecedented polemic, via press conferences and social networks, in which the Coalición por Melilla (CpM) [Coalition for Melilla], the Muslim party which is integrated into Izquierda Unida [United Left], has said, more in jest than seriousness, that it will hire dancers from the carnival of Río de Janeiro to parade through the streets next to the processions of Holy Week.

Together with Ceuta, Melilla is the only Spanish city where the Muslims make up half of its 86,000 inhabitants [tn: these are Spanish exclaves in northern Africa, next to Morocco]. Since 2010 its calendar of local festivals has incorporated the Aid el Kebir (sacrifice), the major festival of Islam.

The heated discussion about music, rock or flamenco, in the month of fasting is not something theoretical. As it does every year, although with a reduced budget of only 60,000 euros, the Institute of Cultures, a agency of the city government, has drawn up a musical and sporting programme to make the Ramadan nights more enjoyable.

...The Muslims of the CpM have raised the roof. "We do not agree," the deputy Abderrahim Mohamed said indignantly to the press. “Ramadan cannot be a festival; it is one of the fundamental pillars of Islam," he emphasised. "It is not a parody or a circus."

Mustafa Aberchan, leader of the party, promptly offered his support to him. "To live in harmony you need to know how to conjugate the verb respect," he explains by telephone. "Would the authorities like it if we hired Brazilian dancers to brighten up the streets on Holy Week or if we organised a nocturnal festival when the cofradía [tn: one of the associations responsible for Holy week processions] was passing?”, he asks. “No and I understand it," he replies. "We ask for the same respect for our religion: that they do not offend us."
Source: El País H/T: Maria José


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