Sunday, March 12, 2006

Finding Peace

Tracking through the streets of Fes's old city today, we were accompanied by a small guide who affectionately introduced himself to us as Muhammad "cous cous," a funny little monicker. Muhammad was a kind boy, and a good guide although he made sure to lure us into every tourist trap possible.

Fes's old city is another world. The only things I have to compare it with are the old cities in Jerusalem and Hebron, which by comparison feel a million times cleaner.

We took in the sunset today from atop an ancient old city wall, a ruin overlooking other ruins. Castlelike outpost loomed behind us on the not so distant hills. Smoke billowed omonously in black streams from several locations throughout the city. We communicated sparingly with teenage Moroccan boys atop the wall as the sun went down over Fes tonight.

The only solace from the maddening assault on our senses today was found when we ducked into an ornate mosque, pretending to be part of a French tour group. The noise subsided, as did the smells. It was startling, instantly we had been transported as if by magic to the cleanest, most serene place we saw all day. When you take into account the living conditions of the people who inhabit the Arab world it becomes almost bluntly obvious how it is that Islam retains such an overpowering grip on the collective conscious of this part of the world. The only education these people get is Islam, it is more or less the only dependibly functional institution they know. No wonder they want to associate it with their politics...

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