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April 3, 2015 1:45 am

Jewish Group Calls Out Moroccan Culture Minister for Failing to Act Against Anti-Jewish Hatred at Casablanca Book Fair

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Major Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) on Wednesday criticized Moroccan Culture Minister Mohammed Amine Sbihi for failing to make good on his promise to stop all displays of anti-Jewish hate at the 2015 Casablanca Book Fair.

SWC’s Director of International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, wrote a letter reminding the minister of their telephone discussion following the latter’s meeting with the Moroccan Ambassador to France.

“Mr. Minister, you pledged that measures would be taken to vet all stands for displays of racism or fomenting hate and violence, as these violate Muslim values and the principles of the Moroccan monarchy and Constitution,” he wrote to Sbihi. But, Samuels said, “no such steps were taken. On the contrary, two weeks after the conversation, the Minister wrote that the volumes named in the Wiesenthal Centre report were ‘not antisemitic, but anti-Israel.'”

The SWC said it would not accept that some books, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Hitler’s memoir Mein Kampf, could be viewed as anti-Israel. Even if they were, “they therefore, apparently, do not offend Muslim values, the Moroccan monarchy or Constitution,” emphasized Samuels, arguing that “these very institutions are, in fact, also targeted by the same Islamists that threaten the Jews in Morocco and beyond.”

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The SWC also presented its sixth annual report on anti-Jewish incitement at the Fair, also known as SIEL (Salon International de l’Edition et du Livre).

The human rights group monitors book fairs in other parts of the Arab world, including Qatar and Oman, and noted that although Qatar offers the widest variety of antisemitic titles at their annual fair, Casablanca is “way ahead in volume, with a tip of the iceberg figure” of over 100 antisemitic books on display.

“The worst recidivists at each Fair were Egyptian, Syrian (under the cover of Lebanon) and Palestinian publishers,” Samuels noted. “That the 2015 Honoured Guest in Casablanca was the ‘State of Palestine,’ undoubtedly added to the number of Jewish conspiracy texts on display.”

Samuels listed names of publishers endorsed by the SIEL which, he said, will be reported to the Frankfurt Book Fair with a recommendation that they be “blacklisted from participating in the 2015 Fair, in that they violate European Union and Council of Europe provisions against racism, German law and the contractual terms of these exhibitors with the Fair authorities.” The list of titles included Jews are the Trouble-Makers of History and Israeli Nazi Intelligence in Egypt and the Arab World.

Samuels concluded his letter telling Sbihi that in light of the Ministry’s “auspices and apparent indifference to our report, we consider the SIEL complicit in any potentially violent consequences of this annual incitement.”

Last year, the SWC also called on Sbihi to end the proliferation of antisemitic books at the Fair following his previous failed commitment to do so. Samuels’ 2014 report on anti-Jewish literature at the book fair was shared with the director of the Frankfurt Book Fair to suggest that the “listed delinquent publishers” be banned from its November 2014 event.

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