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“Law punishes Moroccans in economic, political, cultural, artistic or other contacts with 2 to 5 years imprisonment and fines of 10,000 to 100,000 euros.”

21 November, 2013

In a letter to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that “Your Majesty is currently in Washington at meetings with President Obama and his Administration regarding your country’s role in maintaining democratic stability at a tempestuous time of security challenges to your country and the entire North Africa/Middle East (MENA) region.”

Samuels alerted the King that “in your absence, various groups in your Parliament plan to damage Morocco’s reputation for tolerance, its standing as a Western ally and its long history of warm ties with the Moroccan Jewish Diaspora in the United States, Europe and Israel.”

The letter highlighted that, “in 1492, your dynasty welcomed Muslim refugees, together with their Jewish neighbours, both expelled from Christian fundamentalist Spain. These Jewish immigrants contributed greatly to Morocco’s prosperity, just as their departure resulted in a sharp decline in Spanish power”.

It likewise pointed out that “over 250,000 of your former subjects still recall with affection the World War II protection they enjoyed from your grandfather, King Mohammed, in the face of the antisemitic laws of the Vichy-France administration. Thousands of Jews, most of them Israeli, now annually visit Morocco as tourists, pilgrims to Jewish grave-sites or business and cultural delegations.”

“Your Majesty, behind your back, a number of political parties aim to ram through Parliament a law, entitled ‘Criminalizing Normalization with the Israeli Entity.’ The law intends to prohibit all participation in activities of Moroccan citizens and residents in which Israelis or Israeli organizations are involved, with punishments of 2 to 5 years imprisonment plus fines of 10,000 to 100,000 euros. The relations to be penalized are listed as ‘economic, political, cultural, artistic or other contacts’”, added Samuels.

The letter argued that “this law would not only endanger the Jews remaining in Morocco, it would set a precedent for the exclusion of other minorities, thereby wrecking Your Majesty’s 2011 newly enacted human rights based Constitution. Indeed, it may also deter foreign investment prospects, both current and future”.

It continued “the proposal includes ‘a declaration of diplomatic war’ against all countries that have citizens holding Israeli nationality, as well as against all Moroccans with family ties in Israel, in violation of anti-discrimination provisions of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), at which Morocco holds observer status.”

The Centre urged King Mohammed VI to “invoke your sovereign might to defend the constitution and ensure that this unconstitutional and damaging draft law remains a draft.”