Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Murder of Casablanca Jew 'panics' community

Was it a criminal mugging or an act of antisemitism? Whatever the reason, the murder of Joseph Amar, a Jew, in Casablanca on the night of the 3rd April, has panicked the Moroccan Jewish community. The story made the front page of the magazine Maroc-Hebdo.

Joseph Amar, a retired jeweller aged 68, was returning home on foot after an evening with friends when he was stabbed to death. The attacker stripped him of his wallet and left him lying in a pool of blood.

What is interesting is that the attacker could have recognised Amar as a Jew. " First indications of the police investigation are that Joseph Amar was wearing a beret, as is the Jewish tradition," wrote L Bernich, the Maroc-Hebdo reporter.

The Moroccan anti-terrorism squad swung into action, while the Israelis issued a security warning just before the Passover holiday: Morocco figured quite high up on the blacklist.

The reporter alleges somewhat acidly that the Israelis were just trying to drive a wedge between Morocccan Israelis (visiting saints' or ancestors' graves or celebrating the Maimouna) and their homeland. The Moroccan authorities, for their part, wished to hush up the whole affair. People still recall the murder of Albert Rebibo, 55, in 2003 by masked Islamists and the still unsolved murder of the businessman Baby Azencott in June 1996. There was also the murder of Rabbi Elie Aferyat, 75, in September 2003 in Meknès.

In spite of the attacker's arrest, the 2,500 Jews still living in Morocco feel anxious.

Read article in full (French)

Article on 2003 terror attacks


zak said...

It is a sad story to see an innocent person murdered this way, jsut because he was Jewish. It is not however surprising to see deliberate killing of jews in Morocco, simply because they are many who still live there. I remember now I was reading a newspaper Le monde one Sunday morning in 1982 about the horrible killing and mutilation of a Jewish person in Fez, yet the local newspapers or Television did not not ven mentioned it. I was young and naive then but deeply concerned by the issue of mutilation of the body. I did not understand why people would do such a thing...

I remember that day fairly well, because I thought the jew hatred did not exist as much in Morocco than in other Arab countries. I realized then that I was wrong. Moroccan Jews in Casablanca (predominant community) stay in Morocco because of the quality of life and business operations they run... leaving for Israel would a great loss economically and socially... or else they would have packed a mong time ago and left for Israel.

Anonymous said...

"What is interesting is that the attacker could have recognised Amar as a Jew. " First indications of the police investigation are that Joseph Amar was wearing a beret, as is the Jewish tradition," wrote L Bernich, the Maroc-Hebdo reporter."

This is what constitutes evidence these days? Or is there more in the article to indicate that this is something more than hysterics? (My French is not that great.) A little more detail on comparative murder rates would be helpful.


bataween said...

Hello Heather,
The beret was the only clue that the victim was Jewish - pretty thin evidence, I agree. We know that the attacker was acting alone, that he did not shout 'Allahhu-akbar' or 'convert, Jew, or die'.'
The article has nothing much else to go on, except the story that Jewish hysteria is (understandably) mounting with each successive incident. Don't forget that in addition to the murders mentioned, on 16 May 2003 Al-Qaeda bombed Jewish sites in Casablanca.

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Anonymous said...

thanks bataween.

I think there's definitely a need to evaluate crimes/crime patterns to determine any aggravating circumstances that make certain people or groups of people "easy targets", but I don't know that the hysteria/"crying wolf" does us as Jews much good in the long run. The more hysteria, the less people come to care about real attacks, and the more it demeans and devalues the life of the murder victim.

Sometimes things just happen.


Zak said...

What type of hysteria is there here? None... the jewish community will carry on as always... What is this stuff about a beret the victim was wearing? What is this??

A beret is a french head wear. It is not a yarmulka. Thus it is not a sign of being Jewish. Perhaps it may be a sign of being foreign...Mind you that there are many French citizens living in Morocco, some wear berets all the time. I do not understand why stress this as if there is a deciding factor for the murderer.

Amar was well known person in his community. He was killed deliberatly by people who hated him for being Jewish not because he was wearing a beret...There are many undercurrent of islamic fundamentalists in Morocco that would be thrill to announce responsability for the murder. And all this despite the Moroccan government crack down since the horrible terror attacks of 2003.

Islamic fundamentalism is dormant yet widespread among the vast majority of marginalized, uneducated, poor youth groups of shanty towns and even more virulent among the lower middle classes of major peripheral urbanized cities. There is no doubt in mind that he was killed by some of those who want to vent their frustration on their dismal social situation. Jews are targeted simply because they are expandable to the eyes of the massess...as far as the moroccan ruling elites of course it bothers them, the incident taints their image of openess and diverse religious melting pot.

Let's hope that this does not occur again.. But I bet you once the government thinks it has everything under control a new generation of disanfranchized youth will take on the order of jihad. If I was a jew in Morocco, I would try to leave as soon as possible...unless the government takes extreme measures to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.