The Spider’s House : Betrayal in Quarter Andalus

The Spider’s House : Betrayal in Quarter Andalus

“The likeness of those who choose other patrons than Allah is as the likeness of the spider when she taketh unto herself a house, and lo! the frailest of all houses is the spider’s house, if they but knew.”
Qu’ran.

Paul Bowles’ novel, The Spider’s House,  describes the political situation in Fes during 1954.  Tensions had been mounting in Morocco during the 1950s and, as the French in Morocco attacked the Sultan, his popularity grew. The French, allied with traditionalist leaders hostile to the reformist and nationalistic elites of the Istiqlal party, tried to play off one side against the other. Riots in Casablanca at the end of 1952 ushered in the era of mass politics, and the Sultan was accused of being one of the main causes for the deteriorating situation. By Aug. 20, 1953, despite the opposition of Paris, the French in Morocco deposed the Sultan, who refused to abdicate his throne. He and his family were exiled to Madagascar, where they remained for 3 years.

In Morocco the failure of the royal deposition became quickly clear. The Moroccans considered the new puppet sultan, Moulay Arafa, a usurper. Acts of terrorism multiplied, and insecurity spread throughout the country. The French in Morocco retaliated with repression and violence, while liberal politicians in Paris actively worked for a solution. When the Glaoui rallied to the cause of Mohammed V, all opposition to the exile’s return melted away, and on Nov. 16, 1955, the Sultan regained Morocco and was greeted by delirious crowds. On March 2, 1956, Morocco received its independence. Mohammed V became the chief of state, and his son Moulay Hassan took command of the army.

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Become Nothing and He’ll Turn You Into Everything

Become Nothing and He’ll Turn You Into Everything

There are only three religious buildings in Fes and Meknes which can legitimately be visited by non-Muslims.  These are the Al-Attarine and the Bounania in Fes,  and the Bounania in Meknes.  All three buildings are Madrasa,  or religious educational buildings,  and were built in the 14th century.  The Bounania in Fes has a double role as a functioning mosque,  and a part of the complex is off-limits to non-Muslims.

Rather than providing a monologue about each building and its history,  which can easily be found online,  I have provided a selection of random quotes covering a wide range of perspectives relating to Islam to accompany the images.  Some are more controversial than others and most apply to Islam generally rather than specifically Morocco..

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