Babylon & Beyond

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MOROCCO: Collapse of historic minaret, killing 41, raises questions

February 22, 2010 |  9:12 am


Moroccan authorities have launched an investigation into the collapse of an 18th century mosque that killed 41 people and injured dozens in the city of Meknes.

Officials blamed heavy rains for the collapse of the historic Bab Berdieyenne mosque during Friday prayers, but many are wondering why the government hadn't moved to shore up the 4-century-old minaret in the city's UNESCO-designated historic area

Arab countries generally don't take good care of their historical architecture, lacking the funds or often the governmental authority to preserve old sites. In general, Morocco has been better than most, thriving on tourism to its picturesque historical attractions.

In the wake of the accident, King Mohammed VI has ordered examinations of all old Moroccan mosques, according to the official Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse. 

The United Nations has offered to help rebuild the site.

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: A mother, at center, flanked by relatives mourns her son after the minaret of a mosque collapsed during weekly Friday prayers in the Moroccan town of Meknes. Credit: Abdelhak Senna / AFP/Getty Images