19 August 2010
In a letter to Abdeslem Bikrat, Royal Governor of Essaouira Province, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed concern that "certain members of the "Moroccan Association for Human Rights" (AMDH) are, reportedly, abusing their organization for a political agenda against the interests of H.M. King Mohammed V and Morocco itself."
Samuels noted that "on the eve of the Jewish Passover, AMDH apparently accused the Royal Advisor on Relations with the Moroccan Jewish Diaspora - Mr.André Azoulay - of disloyalty based upon his religious identity. This calumny was, allegedly, repeated on 30 March following an international conference on the history of Moroccan intercultural harmony held in Essaouira under the auspices of UNESCO, the Embassies of France and Italy, with the participation of numerous Jews from the worldwide Moroccan Jewish diaspora."
He continued, "former Moroccan Jews are known for their affection to the traditions of their country of origin and, especially, to its monarchy. For them to hear their Minister, Andre Azoulay, maligned for being a Jew is, in fact, a direct insult to H.M. the King."
Subsequent events were described as follows:-
"- At the demonstration, the slogans against the Royal Advisor then continued against a Jewish citizen of Essaouira, Mr.Noam Nir Bojou.
- His letter of complaint to AMDH remaining unanswered, Nir has charged three of its members, under Moroccan defamation law, on grounds of anti-Semitism.
- On 7 August, the AMDH, reportedly, called for a demonstration outside Nir's restaurant, El Baraqa.
- A week later, 14 August, the assembled demonstrators apparently accused Nir of espionage, made personal threats and announced a call to you, Mr. Governor, to intervene in the legal process by forestalling a judgment. Further such demonstrations have been called for in coming days."
Samuels suggested that "these proceedings are not only damaging to the welcoming city of Essaouira, they abuse the prestige of the monarchy and your own status, Mr. Governor".
The Centre urged the Essaouira authorities "to allow the judicial process to take its course, so that the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, perhaps under a new leadership, return to the true Moroccan values of tolerance and solidarity for which it was founded".
Dr. Samuels also stressed that the Simon Wiesenthal Center, "as a friend of Morocco, we have long celebrated the position taken by H.M. King Mohammed VI's grandfather - the late King Mohammed V - in defence of his Jewish citizens from the wartime authorities of French Vichy " adding that "as a human rights organization, I am also proud to have championed Maghrebi victims of discrimination in Western Europe."
Samuels concluded by wishing the Governor "a tranquil Ramadan".
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
For further information contact Shimon Samuels on 0033 (0) 609 770 158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.