Netherlands: No interest in voting in Moroccan elections

Dutch Moroccan barely make use of their newly acquired voting right in Morocco, according to Moroccan newspaper As-Sabah. Moroccans living abroad may vote and be elected in the upcoming parliamentary elections in September, but due to practical impediments, lack of information and a bad image of Moroccan politics there is barely any interest. In order to vote Dutch Moroccan must come to Morocco in September. In contrast to other countries, Morocco does not enable voting in consulates of embassies. However, Dutch Moroccans have to register as voters in a consulate, possible till last Friday. According to As-Sabah, basing itself on consular sources, there was no interest. The only people who registered were representatives of immigrant organizations and people who had to come for other reasons to the consulate.

Almost Half Of Young Moroccans Are Anti-West

AMSTERDAM – Forty percent of young Moroccan immigrants reject Western values and democracy. 6-7 % are prepared to defend Islam with force. These are the findings of the still-confidential report “Radicals and democrats”, prepared by the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES) for Rita Verdonk, Minister for Integration and Immigration. The majority of young Moroccans are against the right of free expression, especially when it comes to unfavourable judgements on Islam.

Spain: With The Bombs Came Questions

The attacks of March 11th in Madrid, in which several Moroccans took part, have changed teh relationship between the Spanish and Muslims. Before, they lived next to one another, with little trouble, but also little integration. Spaniards have become much more suspicious, and life has gotten much more difficult for Moroccans. However, there is also a belief that Spanish society has reacted rather tolerantly. {(continued below in German)} Die Bombenanschl_ge des Terrornetzwerks El Kaida in Madrid am 11. M_rz vergangenen Jahres, an denen haupts_chlich Marokkaner beteiligt waren, haben das Verh_ltnis der Muslime und Spanier deutlich ver_ndert. Vorher lebten sie nebeneinander her, ohne viel voneinander zu wissen. Es gab keine Ausschreitungen, keine Diskriminierung, aber auch keine Integration. Die Anschl_ge h_tten Letzteres sehr deutlich gemacht, glaubt Mohamed El Afifi, Sprecher des Centro Cultural Isl_mico in Madrid, der gr?_ten der sechs Moscheen in Spanien: “Pl_tzlich wurden die Spanier misstrauisch.” Vielen Marokkanern sei nach den Anschl_gen gek_ndigt worden, viele h_tten bis heute keinen neuen Job gefunden. Auch bei der Wohnungssuche h_tten Muslime heute viel mehr Probleme. “Das liegt auch daran, dass fast alles, was wir im Fernsehen _ber den Islam erfahren, derzeit negativ ist”, sagt die aus Syrien stammende Journalistin Malak Mustafa Sahioni. Dennoch glaubt sie wie auch Afifi, dass die spanische Gesellschaft im Vergleich zur britischen oder amerikanischen toleranter reagiert habe. Afifi: “Sie haben nicht begonnen, uns alle zu hassen, im Gegenteil, sie wollten auf einmal mehr _ber den Islam wissen, und die Regierung hat von Anfang an geholfen, dass die Menschen zwischen Terroristen und Muslimen unterscheiden.” Die Regierung hat in den vergangenen Monaten einiges bewegt, so bekamen Anfang dieses Jahres viele Tausende illegal in Spanien lebender Muslime eine Aufenthaltsgenehmigung. Zudem wurde endlich die vor drei Jahren gestartete Initiative, in der Schule nicht nur katholische Religion, sondern auch andere Glaubensrichtungen in einem Fach geb_ndelt zu lehren, umgesetzt. Und: Die Mittel f_r kostenlose Sprachkurse wurden aufgestockt. Aber auch die Muslime selber h_tten durch den Terror vom 11. M_rz gelernt, sagt Sahioni: “Sie haben verstanden wie wichtig die volle Integration ist.”

Moroccans, Turks Rally Against Dutch Immigration Plans

AMSTERDAM – Moroccan and Turkish groups in the Netherlands have set up a new action committee named “Genoeg is genoeg” (enough is enough) to organise a campaign against the Dutch government’s tough immigration and integration policies. The organisers are calling for a national demonstration on 17 September in Amsterdam. Two spokesmen for the new organisation outlined the plans for the demonstration during a press conference in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Monday. Dutch Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk arrived in Rabat for an official visit on Monday. She toured the Dutch embassy where modifications have been made to house the new integration tests that are to be introduced for would-be immigrants to the Netherlands. While there was news on Monday that other European countries are interested in the immigration policies being pioneered by Verdonk, the spokesmen for the new action committee described her policies as discriminatory and racist. “These policies are creating a greater rift between ‘us and them’, one of the representatives said. The ‘Genoeg is genoeg’ group wanted to hold a demonstration in Rabat to coincide with Verdonk’s visit but the authorities did not grant them a permit to do so. The group says there should be no difference between the treatment of Muslims and non-Muslims. It argues that the Cabinet’s integration plans as well as limitations on family reunification and dual nationality hits at the principle of equal rights for all dutch citizens. “We don’t want a separate policy for one group as that leads to Apartheid,” one of the spokesmen said.

Seville’s Islamic Echo

By Marlise Simons SEVILLE, Spain La Giralda, this city’s grand tower standing 90 meters tall, with its warm terra cotta colors and delicate brick patterns, was once called Spain’s most perfect minaret. Its twin stands in Marrakesh, Morocco, a reminder of the centuries-old ties between the countries. .Seville’s minaret has been the bell tower of the city’s Roman Catholic cathedral for the last 500 years. Today, however, many of those who walk by it daily are again Moroccans, part of the growing number of Muslim immigrants to Spain. While they have not talked about reclaiming the minaret, they are seeking permission to build a large mosque in Seville, as Islamic immigrants have in six other Spanish cities. .At the moment, Seville’s Muslims, many of them clandestine workers, meet in small buildings or discrete prayer rooms. But every demand for a proper house of worship awakens nervousness here.

More Moroccans Arrested In Spain; Jewish center may have been a target

MADRID Terrorists believed to be responsible for the Madrid train bombings last month were targeting a Jewish community center and cemetery outside of Madrid for a possible future attack, a senior Spanish investigator said on Tuesday. A map showing the two sites was discovered in the ruins of an apartment destroyed 10 days ago when at least six of the alleged bombers blew themselves up to avoid capture by the police, the official added.

Prayers And Fears Of Madrid’s Muslims

By Dominic Bailey Muslims in Spain are worried. Exactly who was behind the Madrid train bombings is still not certain but three of the five being questioned are Moroccan, one of whom is reported to be linked to attacks in Casablanca last year. There is a large Moroccan immigrant community in Spain and many fear reprisals against their families, businesses and places of worship. Islamic leaders in Spain were quick to denounce the 11 March Madrid attacks, even though the finger of blame was initially pointed at Basque separatists Eta. At least eight Muslims were among the 200 people killed and more than 40 among the hundreds of injured. But talk of al-Qaeda links has again muddied the perception of Islam and made ordinary Muslims feel insecure in the land they have happily made their home. Rumours of repercussions The white stone and marble Cultural Islamic Centre and mosque stands out against the backdrop of high-rise flats along the M-30 motorway out of Madrid. For a Muslim to kill a person unjustly is to kill everyone. There is no justification to kill Inside it is a cool oasis of serenity that echoes with the imam’s call to prayer. But the number of prayer times has been reduced and entrance to regular visitors is restricted. The centre’s secretary, Mohamad Saleh, says the safety precautions are necessary. “We are worried about the repercussions that there may be against Muslims,” he said. After 11 September eggs were thrown at the mosque and some Muslims were sacked from their jobs simply because of their religion. There are already reports of abuse on the street, Arab businesses having windows broken and rumours of demonstrations outside the mosque being planned. Moorish memories “We felt for the victims, the same as everyone, this sort of desperate terrorism affects all areas,” said Mr Saleh. “But people shouldn’t punish a religion or country because of who commits a crime. If a Christian kills, are all Christians blamed? Are the Basques blamed if ETA attack? Moroccans in Spain Moroccans are the largest immigrant group in Spain In 2003 there were 333,000, 20% of all legal immigrants The number of illegal immigrants is unknown Thousands cross the eight-mile Straits of Gibraltar every year on rafts or small boats In 2003 24,146 people were repatriated to Morocco Many work as cleaners, farm labourers or building workers Polls show that Moroccans are Spain’s least-liked immigrants “These people are terrorists and terrorists are criminals wherever they are from. “They cannot have real faith or know God. For a Muslim to kill a person unjustly is to kill everyone. There is no justification to kill.” A banner reading “No to terrorism. Solidarity and condolences to the victims and their families” hangs under the arch of the centre’s entrance. There are about 500,000 Muslims in Madrid and on Fridays between 1,500 and 2,000 faithful pray at the mosque. Most are from Morocco, Algeria and other Arab states. Spain has a long, if bloody, history with its Arab neighbours to the south. Many Arabic dishes, words and architecture survive in modern Spain, remnants from the Moorish conquest of the peninsula which ended in 1492. ‘Good people’ But now, many immigrants who have made the country their second home don’t feel safe. A 46-year-old Algerian, who would not give his name, said there had been threats and people were afraid. “Here in Madrid there is a mix of everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians – it is like a big family and we all have our way of life.” “I feel one of the people here and feel for them but I don’t like the way they now look at us in the street,” he said. “A friend of my wife’s came home pale and frightened the other day after a group of kids threatened her, shouting ‘Dirty disgusting Moors’.” But he said the Spanish were genuinely good people and hopefully would move on with their lives. Moroccan immigrant Rabii, 26, playing draughts with bits of cardboard outside the mosque, said it still had to be proved that al-Qaeda was to blame. “The people coming over here are not here for jihad, they are coming here to find a better future. But now we can’t go to the mosque and they are stopping us praying.” A greater concern for him was that the difficult task of finding a job would be made harder after the attacks. After the pain, peace Businessman Ahmed Jbari, 53, from Tangiers, says the adverse reactions are down to ignorance. “Here in Madrid there is a mix of everyone, Jews, Muslims, Christians – it is like a big family and we all have our way of life. “But people who break the windows should be blamed, not others. Here 29 pay for what one has done.” Moroccan street-seller Abdellate Fechaaui, 30, was among the hundreds of Muslims who joined the march of millions against terrorism after the Madrid attacks. Abdellate and his colleagues had one message for the Spanish people and the bombers: “We are with the Spanish people and are feeling the same pain as everyone. We want peace.”

Police ‘Identify’ Madrid Bombers

Spanish police are reported to have identified six Moroccans who they believe carried out the Madrid bomb attacks that have killed 201 people. Five of the suspects are still at large but one is in custody, the Spanish newspaper El Pais quotes security sources as saying. The man, named as Jamal Zougam, is reported to have been identified by people who survived Thursday’s blasts. Mr Zougam was arrested on Saturday with two other Moroccans and two Indians. The number killed in the attacks has risen with the death of a 45-year woman. The figure is one short of the 202 people killed in Bali in October 2002 when a nightclub was bombed. Moroccans in Spain Moroccans are the largest immigrant group in Spain In 2003 there were 333,000, 20% of all legal immigrants The number of illegal immigrants is unknown Thousands cross the 13km (8 miles) Straits of Gibraltar every year on rafts or small boats In 2003 24,146 people were repatriated to Morocco Many work as cleaners, farm labourers or building workers Polls show that Moroccans are Spain’s least-liked immigrants Security sources told El Pais that the six Moroccans might have formed only part of the group behind the attacks and that militants from other countries might also have been involved. An interior ministry spokesman Juan de Dios Colmenero told the Associated Press that he could not confirm the reports in El Pais. The BBC’s Chris Morris in Madrid says the investigation is still in its infancy but there are already suspicions that the blasts could be linked to the leading Islamic militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is wanted by the United States for a series of attacks in Iraq and elsewhere. Meanwhile, police in the Basque city of San Sebastian have arrested an Algerian man who in January allegedly threatened to massacre people in Madrid, but initial reports suggest he is not a prime suspect. Solidarity The focus is falling increasingly on Morocco; Moroccan security officials are helping Spanish police. The BBC’s Pascale Harter in Tangier says there is great anger among Moroccans as the Spanish investigation seems to be leading back to their country. A state-organised demonstration is due to take place in Tangier later on Tuesday, which is expected to be well attended. People want a chance to express their solidarity with Spain, our correspondent says, especially after the funerals of a 13-year-old girl and a 24-year-old man from Tangier who were killed by the blasts. As Spaniards also continue to bury their dead, a memorial service is to take place in Madrid’s cathedral on Tuesday evening at 1900 GMT. Officials have also announced that a state funeral for the victims will be held in Mardrid on 24 March. The Spanish people are also continuing to digest Sunday’s shock election result that saw the Popular Party turfed out of office. The Socialists, who won the biggest bloc of seats, are now trying to form a coalition with smaller parties to form a government. ‘Al-Qaeda links’ Survivors of the attacks are reported to have identified Mr Zougam from photographs but police sources have said they are treating the witnesses’ statements with caution. One of the allegations against 30-year-old Mr Zougam is that he has links with the Salafia Jihadia group, held responsible for attacks in the Moroccan city of Casablanca last May that killed 45 people. He is also said to have connections with Imad Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, the alleged leader of an al-Qaeda cell in Madrid, who is awaiting trial in Spain on charges of taking part in the 11 September plot. Mr Zougam was detained with Mohamed Bekkali, 31, and Mohamed Chaoui, 34, all from Morocco. Two Indians, named as Vinay Kohly and Suresh Kumar, were also arrested. These five men were arrested in connection with a mobile phone which was found inside a bag containing explosives that failed to go off. Investigators believe mobile phones were used to detonate 10 bombs hidden in backpacks on the four trains which were targeted. Formal charges have not yet been presented.

Moroccans’s demonstration against French President Jacques Chirac’s decision of banning the veil

For Moroccans to demonstrate against French President Jacques Chirac’s decision of banning the veil as a religious symbol at schools, it reflects a religious position more than a political one. Although it is difficult to reduce the Islamic issue to the wearing of the veil, or not, it is obvious that extremist circles in France, and outside, will find in the argument a pretext to accuse Islam of extremism and exaggeration.