Friday, November 25, 2011

A Jewess is running in Morocco's elections


Running in today's parliamentary elections in Morocco is a Jew with close family in Israel - Maguy Kakon. She stood in elections in 2007, and polled 30,000 votes, Haaretz tells us.

Marie-Yvonne "Maguy" Kakon would be just another candidate contesting Morocco's parliamentary elections on Friday - if it were not for one detail.

The 57-year-old real estate consultant is the only Jew among a total of more than 7,000 candidates in the staunchly Muslim country.

Jewish politicians are rare in the Arab world, but Kakon says it is her Moroccan rather than her Jewish identity that counts. Her presence in the elections symbolizes the diversity of the North African country where Arabs, Amazigh (Berbers) and Jews have lived side by side for centuries, Kakon told the daily Akhbar al-Yaoum.

The mother of four, who has written several books on Morocco's Jewish culture, belongs to the small Social Centre Party (PCS), which she describes as "moderate and innovating."

She already took 30,000 votes in the 2007 elections, an amount which would have allowed her to get into parliament, if her party had passed the threshold of 6 per cent of votes on the national level.

While the success of a Jewish candidate in a Muslim country might seem surprising, it is less so in Morocco, which many Israeli analysts regard as being among the most tolerant Arab countries towards Jews.

"Israel has no formal or informal ongoing diplomatic ties with Morocco," an Israeli diplomatic source says, adding that Israel closed its trade office in Morocco after the Intifada erupted in the Palestinian territories in 2000.

But an article published by the Jewish Virtual Library describes Morocco as "perhaps Israel's closest friend in the Arab world."

In September, for instance, Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane in Morocco's Atlas mountains organized a symposium promoting recognition and knowledge of the Holocaust.

The conference - which went largely unnoticed by the public - was the first of its kind in an Arab country, the Israeli daily Haaretz wrote.

Jews have lived in Morocco since antiquity, already before Arabs moved into the territory inhabited by Amazigh. Waves of Jews and Muslims fled the Spanish Inquisition to Morocco in the 15th century.

Jewish "infidels" enjoyed a certain protection in their neighborhoods known as mellahs. By the 1950s, Morocco had about 300,000 Jews.

Intermittent anti-Semitic attacks, international tensions and the creation of Israel in 1948 prompted most Moroccan Jews to emigrate to Israel, France and the United States.

Israel now has about a million citizens of Moroccan origin, while Morocco has a Jewish community of only about 2,500 people. It is concentrated in large cities such as Casablanca, Agadir and Marrakech.

Read article in full

'Morocco can teach Israel about coexistence'

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish her all the success in her election!!!
If Moroccans know what is good for them, they'll vote for her!
suzy vidal

andrea said...

A piece of really good news !

sylvia said...

From early projections, her party might have won a couple of seats, maybe more. Nothing certain until tomorrow when the official results are announced.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what is "moderate Islam?"
thanks
suzy vidal

sylvia said...

I assume you are referring to the Islamist party being described as "moderate".

The PJD is described as "moderate" only in comparison with the other Moroccan radical Islamist party, the PJB.


The difference between the PJD - billed as the winner in this election" and the more radical PJB (Adl wal-Ihssan) is that the PJD was willing to work with the monarchic system and already had seats in Parliament. The radical Islamist party is anti-monarchy and has boycotted the elections. Other than that, Islamist is Islamist is Islamist.
They are more like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Anonymous said...

Really Sylvia, I love you: en tout bien tout honneur!
Keep it up. Clear mind and to the point:
A rose is a rose is a ros!!!!
suzy

xoussef said...

Two years on of PJD coalition government in Morocco, and one year of MB rule in Egypt, it's safe now to say that "They are more like the Muslim Brotherhood" is not true. The principal difference: PJD are not nutters.