Morocco: In Meknès, a Devastating Accident

Bab Berdieyinne Minaret, Meknes Morocco (photo by Eli J. T.)

Bab Berdieyinne Minaret, Meknes Morocco (photo by Eli J. T.)

On February 19, devastating news from Morocco: the minaret of the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque (also known as the Lalla Khenata bint Bekkar Mosque) in the UNESCO heritage city of Meknès, Morocco (where I lived from 2005-2007) had collapsed during Friday prayers.  The initial death toll was reported as 11, but by the following Saturday, CNN had reported it as 36, with an additional 71 injured.  The collapse was reported to have occurred due to recent heavy rains which weakened the structure of the minaret.

Bloggers are sharing local stories and condolences with the people of Meknès.  MontanaRon, who taught English in the city, writes:

I forgot to offer my condolences to all of my Moroccan friends for the devastating loss of life in the collapse of the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque. I pray that those of you I know are all well, Insha’Allah.

For those who haven’t heard, the mosque disaster occurred in Meknes, where I worked for a year. At last count, 41 people have died and many more have been injured. My heart goes out to all of those who have been affected. Here’s a link to a photo I took of the old city of Meknes from a position across the wadi, where I lived in the new section of town. Although I don’t know where the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque might be in that photo, I’m sure it’s one of those pictured. If anyone views the shot, let me know if you see it. Again, my condolences to anyone affected by this disaster.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa pointed readers in the direction of a photo of the mosque (pictured above) on Twitter, saying:

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa

Local Neglect?

Moroccan news blog Morocco Post is one of several bloggers who finds the circumstances surrounding the minaret's collapse neglectful.  Drawing a comparison between the accident and a recent case in England of canine neglect, the blogger writes:

For instance, on Monday 22 February 2010, a police officer in England was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,500 costs for a criminal offence that he committed last year.  PC Mark Johnson was found guilty of  the death of 18-month-old Jay-Jay and seven Jet, who  were in the back of a police vehicle during a heat wave in June last year…

…So broaden your imagination and juxtapose the two disasters: 41 human beings died after a mosque minaret collapse on them and no one is to assume responsibility as the rain was the cause, whereas 2 dogs died of heatstroke and the police officer in charge was brought to justice.

Now the question is: who are the dogs and who are the human beings?

Life Goes On

Morocco Time reports that a number of foreign governments have offered their condolences to the people of Morocco.

The site where the minaret once stood (Photo by The Moroccan Dispatches)

The site where the minaret once stood (Photo by The Moroccan Dispatches)

And The Moroccan Dispatches, a foreigner living in Meknès, shares photographs of the accident site, explaining that:

Life continues as normal in the neighborhood, but many Moroccans stop to gawk and discuss the collapse.

1 comment

  • Kalid M

    It is 3 centuries old edification, cracks started appearing in the structure and the warning was not headed by the authorities.
    Local governments have tough choices to make with limited budgets, should they educate the kids or care for old relics.
    That task should be carried out by a highly selfish and egoistic elite that could very well start foundations to preserve the Moroccan patrimony. It would take away very little from their routine shopping sprees in Europe.

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