[Blog] What is wrong with a Kiss?: The Hypocrisy of Morocco’s so-called “public decency law” By Jose Mario De Vega

What is wrong with a Kiss?: The Hypocrisy of Morocco’s so-called “public decency law”
Is kissing in public a threat to the national security of the state?
By Jose Mario De Vega

Photo source nystartuphub.com

Photo source nystartuphub.com

I refer to Jessica Best’s “Moroccan teenagers arrested after posting kissing photo on Facebook”, The Mirror, October 5 and Al Jazeera’s “Morocco teenagers arrested for Facebook kiss”, October 4.

According to the report, “the boy and girl, aged 14 and 15, have been held for violating public decency.”

The case involves two “Moroccan teenagers have been arrested after posting a photo of themselves kissing on Facebook.”

Said “boy and girl, aged 14 and 15, had their photograph taken by a friend near their school in the town of Nador before uploading it to the social networking site, it has been reported.”

Mario De Vega

But, then “after a local newspaper printed the picture, the pair were arrested for violating public decency.”

It was reported that “the photograph was taken outside the high school where the two are students.”

Said arrests have sparked an outcry, and a campaign has been launched for other couples to post their own copycat photos in protestation to the arrest and to show their solidarity to their peers.

Indeed, “the incident has caused such a stir among young people that a number of other couples have posted similar photos on their Facebook pages.”

In Nador, where the young couples are being held in a juvenile detention center, pending their appearance before a juvenile court next week, a sit-in has already begun to call and demand for their immediate release.


According to all the reports of this case, the said couple was arrested because in the eyes of the authorities they violated public decency.

Now, the question is: what is public decency?

I concur with Larbi Arbaoui’s contention, in his “The Kiss of Nador and the Hypocrisy of Moroccan Society”, Morocco World News, October 7, that:

“The controversial issue of the teenagers from Nador arrested over posting a photo on Facebook of them kissing unveils the social hypocrisy of the Moroccan society. This scandal, over which the Moroccan society is divided into two opposing groups, reveals once again the gaffs of the authorities and the naivety of society.”

Morocco is outrage with the act of these two young lovers in kissing in public but they are not outrage by the gruesome, barbaric and evil act perpetrated by the rapist of Amina al-Filali!

She is the 16-year old Moroccan girl who committed suicide after she was forced to marry the monster who had raped her.

Added insult to injury, this young lass decided to end her life, just days after the world celebrated the International Women’s Day! This is so ironic! What a shame! Such infamy and barbarity! Sad but true!

According to the reports:

The suicide last Saturday of Amina al-Filali, who drank a lethal amount of rat poison, sent shockwaves through Morocco and sparked widespread calls for reform of law that ostensibly defends family values”. (See my full article on this matter: In Defense on the Women’s Rights and Welfare, Human Rights Online Philippines, March 31, 2012)

The Question of Public Display of Affection

What is wrong in showing one’s love to your love, whether in public or in private? Again, Arbaoui continues that:

“Certainly a kiss is the most romantic and intimate way to show someone how much you care about them; yet, sharing kisses in public is not always comfortable for the couple and are unwelcomed in Moroccan culture. However, in some major cities in the kingdom, the public displays of affection shared on the streets, at the beach, and in well-known cafes give the impression that the Moroccan society is no longer the kind of conservative society which regards a kiss in open spaces an immoral behavior.”

Again, we return to the question of what public decency means?

According to the definition of the US Legal.com:

Public indecency is a blanket term for certain activities prohibited by law. The law may not explicitly define and prohibit these activities. Lewd conduct including sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse in public and public nudity falls under public indecency.

The question here is does the act of the young couples, that is kissing in public and posting the picture of it on Facebook constitute outraging public decency?

I do not think so!

It is my fervent view that what they did is not an act that constituted a lewd character that outrages the so-called public decency.

They did not make love in public, they did not show to the public their private parts and they did not mock or harass or shock society as a whole in doing or committing an act that is filthy, outrageous and disgusting.

They kissed passionately and hugged voluntarily and with full consent! What is wrong with that?

What they’ve done, in my view is just what the typical normal lovers usually does, they kissed, hugged and expressed their love to one another albeit as modern lovers, they posted their act of love and passion to a social networking site.

Is that a crime?

Hell no! I do not think so, yet unfortunately, it seems that in Morocco, it is; yet the question there is: what kind of law is that? Is it religious law or a secular statute?

Who is who? Who committed the worst act: the young lovers or that bastard newspaper printer?

If Moroccan society is offended to the act of that young boy and girl; were they not also offended by the act of that bastard “local newspaper printer”, who printed the picture that led to the arrest and detention of the said young couple?

If kissing in public and then later posted it on Facebook constituted outraging public decency, then what the hell will you call the invasive act of that bastard newspaper printer who intruded to the private lives of that young couple, took their picture without their consent and printed it without their knowledge; is that not a worst kind of outraging public decency?

How about those rapists and sexual predators in Morocco? How come society as a whole is not outraged by that?

If Moroccan society does not tolerate couples who are expressing their love in public, does the same society allows some or other people to intrude and invade the privacy and private lives of other individuals?

Again, how about the sexual monsters, who forced and raped women using knives; why it is that Morocco is not offended and outraged by that?

The said couple posted their picture on their account; they did not post it on Youtube for the benefit of the whole world. The act that they did is for them, not for the public to feast upon!

The Question of the so-called Juvenile Court

I am questioning the legality and propriety of the so-called juvenile court wherein the said couple will appear next week. My primordial question is: what is the jurisdiction of this court? Where does it derive its legitimacy and legality?

My second question is: assuming it has the power to acquire jurisdiction over the persons of the said individuals, what is its judicial authority to pass judgment on these minors?

Again to quote from Arbaoui’s straightforward query:

“I no longer understand how the public opinion has remained silent regarding such immoral videos while phrasing eloquent expressions denouncing the kiss exchanged by two minors. Does a kiss really impose a threat to the national order and social harmony to the extent of arresting the kids involved?”

It is on this great sense that I joined the international community in condemning Morocco’s so-called public decency “laws” and its hypocrisy.

There is no shadow of doubt that the arrest they made on that young couple is not only illegal but undeniably immoral; hence I demand them to release that young boy and girl from detention — immediately.

If there is anyone who should be put behind bar, that is no other than that bastard newspaper printer who took the picture of that young couple without their permission and consent!

Also, Morocco instead of making an issue and a brouhaha of this non-issue; must rather put behind bar all rapists and sexual predators in the country and leave this young couple in peace!

Rather than prosecuting young lovers, they must and should give justice to Amina and all victims like her!


Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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