04/03/2012 : CONTROVERSY OVER MOROCCAN PROPOSALS TO BAN TELEVISED GAMBLING
 
Clashes loom over religious implications, and the possibility of a total ban
 
The new Moroccan Telecommunications Minister, Mustapha al-Khalfi, has created something of a political and religious uproar in the country with his desire to ban all live television transmission of gambling, with critics objecting to what they view as the Islamisation of the media.
 
The minister said this week that he would persist with his initiative even if it cost him his job.
 
“I will not allow gambling games to be screened live on state TV which is funded by the Moroccan people even if this costs me my job,” Khalfi told members of the Education, Culture, and Communications Committee in parliament, reports Al Arabiya.
 
Khalfi is the youngest minister in the new Moroccan government headed by the Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party.
 
The minister told parliamentarians that on one day in February alone, the number of viewers watching live gambling was more than 900,000, adding that unlimited liberalism does not work towards protecting younger generations.
 
One parliamentarian commented that a ban on live gambling via television would not solve any of the problems of average citizens.
 
“This only concerns gamblers and anyway they know where to go when they want to gamble and will not be affected by the ban,” he said.
 
The discussion then appears to have degenerated into a general political exchange on what the government should or should not be doing, and what it has or has not accomplished.
 
According to statistics, around three million Moroccans participate in different forms of gambling, boosting state tax revenues.
 
Opponents of the televised ban fear that it may presage a general gambling ban based on Islamist religious beliefs.