RABAT, Morocco (Jan. 15)
The case of a nine-year-old Jewish boy who preferred to become a Moslem is attracting such nation-wide attention in Morocco among both Jews and Arabs that the Sultan himself has taken a hand in it.
The case started last April in the Mellah (ghetto) of Safi, an important port in Southern Morocco, when the boy ran out of Jewish religious school in tears following a dispute with his teacher. An Arab living nearby saw him crying and asked sympathetically: “What is the trouble? Don’t you want to study?” The boy answered: “No.” The Arab told him that he should continue to study, if he wanted to grow up “a good Jew.” To this the boy replied that he did not wish to be a Jew. “I prefer to be a Moslem,” he said.
The Arab took the angry child’s statement at face value and went to the local Moslem religious leader to inquire whether he could adopt the boy. He was told that the Moslem religion accepts any persons who wants to join. The Arab then took the boy home. The child is apparently happy to remain with the Arab who is rich because his own parents are poor.
Efforts by the parents to regain their son were opposed by the Arab, with the backing of local Arab authorities. The Jewish community appealed to the local French administration, but was told that because of the religious nature of the case the French would not interfere.
As a last resort, the case was appealed to the Sultan who ruled that the boy is to remain with the Arab family until he reaches the age of 13, after which he will decide for himself which religion he desires. As a result of the decision the Jewish parents have been prevented from seeing the boy except that his mother was permitted to meet him once in a government office.