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Censorship 2: The Jokes in English


Here are the actual jokes for which the Moroccan satirical magazine Nichane was banned. The magazine’s editor and the article’s author face a possibility of 3-5 years in prison. Meanwhile, the magazine has been banished from newsstands and the internet. These are jokes about sex, religion and politics that are told among friends. I know a number of such jokes myself, many of them racier than these. In comments on various blogs, opinions vary about whether the jokes are completely harmless or deeply insulting, whether “everyone” knows them or only those who love outrage and scandal. I have translated them from French to English, after another blogger translated them from Arabic to French. The magazine didn’t make these jokes up, the popular imagination did. Pressure from Islamic militants was used as an excuse by the Moroccan authorities to crack down on a magazine that has been critical of them in the past. For more background on this story, see my original post, or try this or (for French speakers) this.

    Upon the death of Abu Hourayra [a Companion of the Prophet], he went before the angel who is responsible for tallying up the sins of men. The angel looked at his computer and said to Abu Hourayra, “You’re going to Hell.” Abu Hourayra protested and insisted that the Prophet Mohammed come to straighten things out. The Prophet in turn consulted the computer and said, “I can’t do anything for you. You’re going to Hell.” Abu Hourayra began to cry out, so God came in person to settle the conflict. God tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Look, this is just a joke. You’re on Candid Camera.”
    At the beginning of the school year, the teacher asked his students to introduce themselves. The first: “I am the Prophet David, peace be upon him.” “Silence,” said the teacher, “that’s blasphemy.” The second student: “I am the Prophet Abass, peace be upon him.” “Silence, you sorry fool,” the teacher told him. And so on until a student said, “I am the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.” The teacher replied, “Silence, aren’t you afraid of God’s punishment?” “No, I won’t punish him,” said a student from the back row.
    Question: “Who was the first prophet to speak with animals?” Student’s answer: “The Prophet Mowgli, peace be upon him.”
    A young woman wearing a miniskirt walks into the office of a bearded Islamist. He asks her, “Where did you get that?” She replies, “I bought it in Spain.” The Islamist answers her, “Take off the Crusaders’ clothing.” She takes off her skirt. The Islamist tells her, “Now embrace Islam.” The young woman embraces him. Then the Islamist asks her, “Sit down on the Pedestal of Faith.”
    Three Islamists are in a government office to register their newborn children. The first: “I named my little boy Abu Hamza.” The second: “I gave mine Abu Jaafar as a first name.” The third: “And mine will be named Abutagaz.” [Butagaz is a bottle of butane gas, essential to any Moroccan kitchen.]
    An Islamist is cuddling his little girl: “My little bombshell….”
    An Islamist discovered he was gay, so he put on the veil.
    Driss Basri [the hated and feared Minister of the Interior under Hassan II] died. He tried to bribe the Angel of Death in order to get to Paradise. The angels refused, answering that they are incorruptible and he is going to Hell. While on his way to Hell, Basri spotted Hassan II in Paradise, to his great surprise. He made the following remark: “My god! You can’t tell me there’s no corruption here!”
    King Mohammed VI went to visit his late father in the great beyond. He looked for Hassan II’s name on the list of those who are in Paradise, but in vain. He looked for it on the list of those who are in Hell, with no success. So he went to see God. God asked him for the national ID card of the deceased. God studied Hassan II’s card very carefully and answered, “No, I didn’t create this one.”

For those who read Arabic, I believe that this and this are scans of the jokes from the original article. Interestingly, they were taken from a website that is lobbying for the magazine’s suppression.

On Monday, December 25 (Christmas Day for some people) I will participate in a symbolic protest against censorship in Tunisia. At least four political blogs have been blocked by the Tunisian authorities. They are still available in most countries, but Tunisians themselves cannot read them. Their authors have requested that we join an action in solidarity with them. I will put a “blank post” on this blog at midnight on the 25th, then remain silent and block all comments for 24 hours. If you want to support this action, go here for the details.


Comment from Liosliath
Time: December 23, 2006, 21:27

THAT’S what all the hubbub is about? They must not have heard “The Aristocrats!”

Pedestal of Faith, wait until I tell my husband that one, ha ha ha. Heeeee (still laughing)

(the one about Basri was good, too.)

Comment from eatbees
Time: December 23, 2006, 22:01

I heard this joke from a Moroccan and good Muslim!

Ariel Sharon and Osama bin Laden had a contest to see who had the stronger faith. The bet was that each would bugger the other, and whoever cried out first would have to accept the religion of his tormentor. Sharon got the first try and buggered Osama. Osama was strong in his faith, and resisted without a sound. Then it was Osama’s turn. As soon as Sharon saw the size of Osama’s member, he cried out, “Ashadou an la ilaha illallah!” “No,” Osama said, “that isn’t enough. I want my faith to penetrate to your heart!”

A commenter on Larbi’s blog suggested that the best way to express our solidarity with Nichane would be to collect all the jokes we can think of, hundreds of them, into a single book…this seems like a perfect project to organize over the internet.

Comment from Liosliath
Time: December 24, 2006, 01:56

The only Moroccan joke I know is a dirty one about a woman who falls into the lap of a man on a bus, and he says something vulgar like “Welcome to your home.” Oh, and another Marrakchi joke about lying ants.

Time: January 10, 2007, 20:18

The jokes above are offensive, satanic,lowly and totally unacceptable. Pulishing them is blasphemous and should be punished. There are limits to freedom of expression. which should be balanced with responsibility. In Morocco, the issue has nothing to do with freedom of expression, but is part of an anti-Islamist agenda promoted by some French-speaking media whose aim is to attack the moral values of the Moroccan people under the false pretext of modernity. Nichane falls into this category.

Comment from the_leander
Time: January 13, 2007, 12:17

Ahh yes, “satanic” – the thought ender for those who follow hardline variants of the Abrahamaic belief system…

Don’t like something? “It’s satanic, ban it”.

It is not anti islamic to be able to laugh at ones self or one’s surroundings, indeed it is a healthy way of relieving the stress that builds up day to day. By denying or rather, attempting to deny people this oportunity, all that is achieved is that it is driven underground, or worse, you generate resentment from people who might otherwise be your ally.

As for “morality”, you can have perfectly sound morals and be able to have a laugh at the absurdities of the world. The greatest threat to Islam is not the west, but the hardliners that seem to wield the power within the Islamic world. The west will rise and fall, as have all civilisations, but you will still have to deal with those hard liners.

Comment from NB
Time: January 13, 2007, 13:26

Aziz, is it acceptable to tell people how to think and live? Islam is a great religion, but should it not be a personal choice as to what one thinks, says, learns? The jokes above may be crass, but reading them is a conscious choice, just like watching bad movies. To suggest that they are part of an anti-Islamist agenda is like suggesting that your post is part of an anti-Western agenda and should be stifled. Yet I would never support punishing you for expressing your opinion. Let Moroccan people decide for themselves what is right and what is not and do not judge others for making choices different from yours.

Comment from Bob
Time: January 14, 2007, 13:09

The Abu joke is only funny if you change the last kid’s name to “Abutagaz” (the French translation on Larbi wasn’t quite right). This releases the joke’s full satanic power.

Comment from Jesus
Time: January 14, 2007, 19:39

I can honestly say that not one of these jokes is even remotely funny.

Also the fact that people would be ready to kill or prosecute someone shows how incredibly backwards and barbaric their culture is.

If there is an almigthy God or Allah, how can the words of man hurt him? Is he so weak that he needs to create religious laws to keep people in line.

Why would he care? I ask you you this. Who created Allah? You’ll probably say something like he’s outside space and time and always existed.

How can something so powerful be so hurt or scared by the noise coming out of a person’s mouth?

Please explain me that.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 14, 2007, 21:05

@Bob — You’re right, it’s better that way. I fixed it. And added your link!

@Jesus — At the risk of sucking up to you, one of the great prophets, let me say that I’m in total agreement when you say, “If there is an almighty God or Allah, how can the words of man hurt him?” That was my very first reaction to this scandal, and I’ve used that argument commenting on other blogs. The idea of “injuring” God’s image just seems like the most absurd thing.

Of course, what we are really talking about is injuring people’s religious sensibilities, but even there, the argument applies. If someone’s religious feelings are so sensitive they can be thrown into turmoil by someone making fun of them, is that a sign of a strong religious faith?

Finally, this trial isn’t really about religion at all, but the State attempting to assert its power in advance of this year’s elections. Anyone who wants to simplify this to a scandal of “narrow minded Islamists vs. free speech” is getting the wrong idea.

Comment from Jill
Time: January 15, 2007, 06:03

Aziz sounds just like most Moroccans over 30 that I’ve met. Sad, sad, sad state of affairs.

On the other hand, every one of my students (I teach mostly teenagers, in Meknes) disagrees with the government on this one – even when the Danish cartoons were published, the majority of students said that although it was wrong of the person to draw them and publish them, there should still be no limits to free speech. Thank God for the next generation of Moroccans.

Thanks for covering this story so thoroughly – and for translating the jokes – I’d read them in the actual issue of Nichane, but my derija being what it is, didn’t have an easy time with it.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 15, 2007, 14:02

@Jill — I’d be careful with your division between Moroccans over 30 and under 30. I know quite a few Moroccans over 30 who are committed activists and defenders of human rights. And I know quite a few Moroccans under 30 who are what you might call religious zealots. A lot depends on the education one has received, and the experiences one has been exposed to in life. So it becomes a class difference at least as much as an age difference.

I don’t know why, but I assumed, frankly, that Aziz is under 30. Perhaps he’ll come back and enlighten us on the subject.

Comment from Hashmat Moslih
Time: January 16, 2007, 06:16

Ok, my question is what is the purpose of all this? Let’s say you manage to make fun of Islam or any other belief system, what will that to you, does it give you satisfaction? If it does it says a lot about your inner self and internal conflicts. I am amazed at these so called enlightened people who think by such means they some how “Liberate” people. To me freedom is too precious capital to be spent in this way. Those who do so, have some type of complex. Secular philosophers have spent their entire lives trying to disprove the existence of Allah or in English God, they have failed, or at lest called it a draw. Today the world is moving towards religion something which was unthinkable on the onset of 20th century. When I was in Australia, I was watching a movie which I cannot recall its name, but any way it was about women finding their freedom, at one stage they took their clothe off running around the room and shouting I have a V… I think this is very low, is this freedom? But I know for some of you it is, how sorry is you case.

Comment from Jovan
Time: January 16, 2007, 07:39

Hashmat, the “point” is fun. Pure fun. Humor. You heard of that? And you can sprout your vague rhetorics all you want, but in the end publishing things like this is worth it if only to piss off idiots who think everything that doesn’t comply to their beliefs must be banned.

I’m an atheist. My beliefs are constantly rediculed by religious folks of both Islam and Christianity. I am constantly threatened by eternal torment. Therefore, I for one have every right to send out a big Fuck You to anyone who likes to think I will spend eternity burning in Hellfire.

Comment from sean
Time: January 16, 2007, 12:58

No body is interested in your belief, be it satanic or atheist. First of all, this is about Islam and Moroccans. Second, it is a cultural issue; you would be surprised if I kissed you in your cheek to express my welcome or share a meal or a drink with you, you know why because your culture is different from mine.
About the subject matter, let me tell you that I make sure that my friends are well drunk and high enough, I enjoy seeing people suffer…and many other things including Prayers. As a friend of mine put it I am a “divine Satan”. That said, those jokes are unacceptable and are offensive.

Comment from sean
Time: January 16, 2007, 14:05

By the way I am Moroccan residing in USA

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 16, 2007, 14:37

@sean — I’ve removed certain words from you post because I didn’t think they added anything to your point except expressing your anger. Congratulations! You’re the first person I’ve done that to.

I don’t agree with you that this is only about “Islam and Moroccans.” For me, the whole point here is that we all share the same world, and we need to work together to have standards that give people their freedom without getting in anyone’s way. That is a job that involves ALL of us.

@everyone — The whole point of this blog is to help people living in Muslim countries, or people from those countries living in the West, or people born in the West all communicate with each other. Please don’t turn this into a shouting match around a narrow set of issues, or I will have to close the comments on this post. Take a look around the blog to see what it is about, read some of the other articles, then come back here and say what you want, if you feel you have something to add to the discussion. Pretend you’re at dinner with your friends. This isn’t about shouting down the other side.

Comment from Hashmat Moslih
Time: January 18, 2007, 05:24

Dear Jovan
my friends get surprised that i can walk in the dark or go to the graveyard at night time and not be scared, but do you know why I do not get scared? It is because i do not believe i will be harmed if Allah has not willed it. No one could do anything to me if it was not willed by Allah, so i feel very “free”. if you threaten me that tomorrow little green women would come and get me i would laugh it off because i do not believe in little green women. SO if you do not believe in Allah and the last day why do you get upset? but there is something inside every person and they cover it up, and the best way to hide ones internal problem is to draw attention to the external problems. This is also true in the international relations.
Do you think, laughing is forbidden in Islam? I think you may have seen that movie “in the name of the rose” where priests were not allowed to laugh and it had some thing to do with Jesus not have laughed. My dear that is a myth. Religious people do laugh they are allowed to do so. Some people are suggesting that the issue is about fun well it is not. Hitler thought it was fun to kill 8 million jews, and I am sure the lunatic had fun, but the question is did the jews have fun? Or the “Christian” Serbs (the sons of the atheist communist Yugoslavia) raped 80000 Muslim women they had fun did those women had fun? Your belief is mad fun of, do you also have fun?
Do you think writing racial jokes specially about jews is fun, I dare you to go around and publish them.
inshaAllah (Allah willing) you will not burn in hell for eternity because if you have an atom of belief that Allah exist, eventually you will be brought out of hell to heaven, cheer up have fun because I am having fun…

Comment from Hashmat Moslih
Time: January 18, 2007, 07:04


i have two questions for you- why did you write “My beliefs are constantly rediculed by religious folks of both Islam and Christianity” but you left out the Jews?
Are you a Jew?

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 18, 2007, 15:23

@Hashmat — Jovan said he’s an atheist, which means he’s not a Jew, since Jews believe in God. I think Jovan left out Jews because he didn’t think of them. He didn’t mention Hindus or Buddhists either. Maybe no Jews have mocked his beliefs. Also, Christians and Muslims are much bigger groups (there are about 33 million Jews).

Comment from Abdurahman
Time: January 20, 2007, 05:55

BBC puts an interesting spin on it, a civilizational clash perhaps:

So now the judges in particular and Morocco in general have a choice. And it is not an easy one.

Do they side with liberal values and win the admiration of Western democracies, or do they uphold their Islamic traditions and receive the backing of most of the Arab world?

Here is the source.

Comment from sofia
Time: February 16, 2007, 07:50

I think this whole situation should be looked at micro level instead of macro. Some of the jokes are quite funny..others made me feel a bit uncomfortable. As a muslim i was uncomfortable about the ones that mentioned the Prophet Muhammed. Not because I found them offensive per se but because I think as Muslims we have a duty to protect his legacy. I keep questioning as to whether this will lead to other more offensive joking. Maybe this is where the debate is…as for the jokes about the islamists…that was about the so called followers of islam…jokes from peer to peer…how can that be wrong…we need to question what makes us uneasy and why..instead of putting a blanket “offensive” tag on everything. Even the jokes with the Prophet mentioned did not actually say anything about him….but maybe it mentioned another religious figure and that is what the furore is about. I think Muslims need to take a deep breath and learn to be self critical without being apologetic. People in the west or the east who look at freedom of speech should also realise that that is not without it’s parameters.

Comment from zia
Time: March 21, 2007, 22:12

Why do arabs get thier knickers in a twist over the most petty things…. if you stop spending less tme getting offended you might stop being offended…. :))

Comment from Hashmat Moslih
Time: April 17, 2007, 09:54

I am not Arab.

Comment from bob
Time: April 30, 2007, 14:49

more jokes please…..

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 30, 2007, 17:43

@bob — There was once a very bad Muslim who drank and cursed and never prayed. One day, as he was crossing the street in a drunken stupor, an old woman pleaded with him for spare change and he gave her two dirhams. Immediately after, he was hit by a car and killed. At the gate of Paradise, the angel considered his life and told him, “Your whole life you’ve been far from God, but your last act was one of charity, so it outweighs the rest. Welcome to Heaven.” Once inside the gates, he couldn’t believe his luck and started grabbing everyone to tell them his story. “I was a sinner my whole life, but the very last thing I did was give a couple of coins to an old woman, so they let me into Heaven!” Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with those who had spent their whole lives praying, fasting and giving to charity. They went to the angel and said, “That man you let in is mocking us. It must be a mistake. We’re trying to praise God but he won’t leave us in peace! Please get him out of here.” So the angel approached the sinner and told him, “This isn’t working out. You’ll have to go. We’re sending you to Hell instead.” The drunk felt that was fair, because Hell was where he’d always expected to end up. Only once he got there, he was so excited by the fluke that had allowed him to spend a few days in Heaven, that he grabbed everyone he could find to tell them about it. “Do you know what? Just before I died, I gave an old woman two dirhams, and because of that they let me into Heaven before sending me here. I spent two weeks in Paradise for the price of two dirhams!” This was just as annoying for the sinners of Hell as it was for the people in Heaven, so they went to the angel. “We’re trying to repent in the hope that God might forgive us one day. But this idiot won’t leave us in peace. Please get him out of here.” The angel, exasperated, called the man over again. “Hell isn’t working out any better than Heaven did. It seems you can’t behave yourself in either place. Take your lousy two dirhams and get back to earth!”

Comment from Santinasi
Time: June 5, 2007, 22:30

A man walks into a New York City bank and says he wants to borrow $2,000 for three weeks. The loan officer asks him what kind of collateral he has. The man says “I’ve got a Rolls Royce — keep it until the loan is paid off — here are the keys.” The loan officer promptly has the car driven into the bank’s underground parking for safe keeping, and gives the man $2,000.
Three weeks later the man comes into the bank, pays back the $2,000 loan, plus $10 interest, and regains possession of the Rolls Royce. The loan officer asks him, “Sir, if I may ask, why would a man who drives a Rolls Royce need to borrow two thousand dollars?”
The man answers, “I had to go to Europe for three weeks, and where else could I store a Rolls Royce for that long for ten dollars?”

Comment from Hajj Dawud Ahmad al-Amriki
Time: November 13, 2007, 02:21

ALLAH ta’ala tells us that the deniers make a joke of those who keep faith. He also tells us that the hypocrites think every cry is against them.

We see these jokes and they do two things: first, they identify those who make them; second, they confirm that what ALLAH says is true.

They are not cries against the faithful, they are proofs of Islam and a benefit to us just as are other things that inform us of who is who.

So who is it that thinks that every cry is against them? These jokes cause others to identify themselves, as well. Another benefit for the faithful.

There is plenty of humor in Islam. Humor is a distinguishing characteristic of humanity, and the prophet himself laughed often, and often enough at some of the antics of his companions.

Personally, I found these much-maligned “ten jokes” rather humorless. If this is what the people of Morocco find funny, I am sad for them. And if Moroccan authorities find them “against” the people, then I feel doubly sad for the people, but can better understand why Moroccans find them funny.

Comment from safa
Time: April 2, 2008, 09:52

why the hell are your jokes racist towards muslims.i am a muslim and do you know what?
i am proud 2 b it

Comment from shuzaka
Time: April 2, 2008, 10:00

This is soooooooooooooo rascist if someone made a rasict comment about your religion how would you feel.Next time when you are making a website try and think about other people and there religions

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 2, 2008, 12:31

@safa and shuzaka — The jokes are on this website because they appeared in the popular Moroccan magazine Nichane as examples of the kind of jokes Moroccans (Muslims) tell among themselves. I’m not endorsing the jokes, but I do endorse the right of the magazine to publish them. They got in a lot of trouble for that, and the magazine was confiscated, so I put the jokes here so people could see what all the controversy is about. I wrote six different posts about the case—here is the first and here is the last.

Comment from brahim
Time: June 27, 2008, 09:20

i lost my faith at a young age. my younger brother died of cancer when i was 15. was this gods way, was it karma!!! at 5 years old what could he have done wrong?
thats when i looked around at all the suffering in the world caused by religion and turned my back on all of it.
The sooner the world realises there are no higher entities from any religion, the sooner we can all live in peace!
i think you lot all need to take a step back and stop living in the past with religion and look to your future and enjoy what time you have with your family and friends. life is to short for all this squabbling!
peace be with us.

Comment from Dennis C. Fait
Time: February 7, 2009, 15:57

I wouldn’t call any of those “jokes”. They are the lamest stuff I’ve ever seen that have been referred to as “jokes”.

A muslim’s sense of humor must be different from the rest of the human race.

Comment from Faiqa
Time: March 4, 2009, 08:15

Ahh! What a beautiful things! I’ll definitelycheck this work. I find this is awesome!

Comment from bernie from Planck\’s Constant
Time: April 3, 2009, 10:25

Thanks for the translations, but the jokes are rather tame. I linked to your article from Why I make fun of Islam; I believe my jokes are much more offensive.

Comment from translation
Time: January 13, 2010, 07:25

They all are stupid who try to make fun of any religion.

They will deserve soon

Comment from Julia
Time: May 31, 2010, 15:15

I’m sorry to say this, but I think that religions keep people in hordes. They stop you from an open-eyed perception. They tell you “what is”, instead of encouraging you to seek for “what is”.

Comment from Hamza Omar Yusuf
Time: April 10, 2011, 10:44

One thing that our generation fails to recognise is that religion has played a huge role in shaping our civilisations, including our laws which we live under. To attack religion as being all ‘evil’ is silly, since those laws have meant that society has been able to flourish. Most laws which have come down to our times have their roots in religious doctrines. If we are to diss religion as the ‘all evil’ bearer of doom and gloom, then we must critically study our literature in depth and see what ‘a-theism’ has given to humanity… In a nutshell, had atheism been our ‘guide’ rather than God, then we would have existed, ehm, not existed, since there would have been no rules, and therefore total anarchy and corruption throughout the by-gone aeons…

Comment from European
Time: September 18, 2011, 13:02

The saddest aspect of the punishment for these jokes is that they are not funny. Or blasphemous.

It’d take a local Monty Python to fully ridicule Islam and all our gods.

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