Macias in Casablanca. A Lesson of Resistance and Pertinacity.

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After several failed attempts to perform in his homeland resulting each time in huge controversy in Islamist-oriented Algeria, The charming French singer of Algerian Jewish descent Enrico Macias persistently made it to neighboring Morocco. However, not completely untroubled.

A Couple of days before he set off for his valentine’s day concert in Morocco, Macias appeared on a French TV program to send a clear message to the trolls who had chosen him to pick a quarrel with, threatning him with boycott: “[if you dare], I’ll be at the [Casablanca] airport on February 14.”

They cowered, however. Brave and enthusiastic He performed before an encoring and delighted audience of hundreds of Moroccans who had indulged in feelings and memories evoked by his famous love songs, big hits and golden oldies of the ‘60s ‘70s and ‘80s—Songs like “les filles de mon pays,” “La femme de mon ami” or “ Non je n’ai pas oublié” were a sensation at the time.

Yet, the ruling Islamist party Justice and Development and its counterpart justice and spirituality group (Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane) had launched a ferocious campaign of smear and mudslinging against the singer for more than two months since the news of his visit to Morocco bubbled up in the social media and local newspapers.

Militant agitprop groups and associations (called observatories) affiliated with Islamist movements and supported by Qatar are tasked to take countermeasures against any political initiative intended to normalize relations with Israel, and put constant pressure on the state by mobilizing now and again their zealot mobs to protest in the streets in favor of Hamas (Though the protests against Israel in the Arabsphere has diminished noticeably in the last few years prompting Islamist intelligentsia and observers to ring alarm bells about an abnormal change in the attitudes of the masses which may be a harbinger of Islamists’ decay—supporting “The Cause” has been always seen as a strong sign of their popularity.)

The Qatari-owned Alquds Alarabi, a leading Arab news paper based in London, kept hammering away Macias anticipated visit for weeks-long trying to build popular momentum that would eventually lead to the cancellation of the singer’s appearance., website and blogs, largely infested by Islamists and remnants of Pan-Arabism, had been systematically inciting against the singer, and referring to his support for Israel.

In the last few years, in order to preserve the Jewish heritage of the country, king Mohammed VI has reinvigorated the Jewish Quarters (a.k.a Mellahs) in old medinas, and introduced structural restoration of buildings, Hebraic monuments, cemeteries and synagogues; streets, alleyways and historical gates regained their original Hebrew names.

As is enshrined in The kingdom’s new constitution of 2011, Hebrew heritage is one of the time-honored components of Moroccans’ identity. Several Jewish cultural and philanthropic associations are operating freely and engaging successfully the society. Kosher shops and Jewish restaurants could be seen in several cities. Annually, Jewish tourists from Israel and around the glob wane their way to remote villages in the Atlas Mountains to pay tribute to the deceased learned and pious rabbis, and visit tombs of the community. Their sites are kept clean and intact among local berbers.

While Enrico was on stage in Cinema Megarama, outside the building their was a swarm of protesters ( though not at all the plentifullness expected) waving Palestinian flags and ranting typical Muslim-Brotherhood-phrasing slogans that threatened Israel with mass destruction and waves of martyrs, while police forces cordoned off the area around the movie theater to keep them away from getting closer to the main door. After couple of hours they felt tired and dispersed.

Macias who left Algeria into exile in France in 1961 has never been granted the right to return. No matter, he thrived by refusing to bend to threats and humiliations of the global anti-Semitic movements which are systematically targeting influential Jewish figures with defamation and slander campaigns, and trying to blackliste them.

That should be met with strong resistance, awareness and determination. It’s time for Israel to shift its policy in the Middle East from befriending and cultivating Arab leaders to presestently put pressure on Arab regimes to take firm and deterrent legal actions against anti-Jewish attitudes of their citizens, and introduce amendments to the Arab legal systems to include anti-Semitic chapters in their penal codes like the rest of the world.

About the Author
Taha Lemkhir is a Moroccan writer and photographer. Degree in Arabic literature and Islamic studies. Critic of Islamism. languages: Arabic, English and Spanish. He Lived part of his life as an Islamist— until enlightenment flashed through his heart.