Thursday, August 25, 2011

Morocco Blocking Integration of Muslim Immigrants in Spain

by Soeren Kern

The Moroccan government is aggressively implementing "a strategy of great magnitude" to exert control over the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of the nearly one million Moroccan immigrants who reside in Spain.

The strategy involves establishing a parallel Muslim society in Spain by discouraging Moroccans from integrating into their host country, and by encouraging them instead to live an Islamic lifestyle isolated from Spanish society.

Rabat is also financing the construction of hundreds of mosques in Spain whose imams are directly appointed by the Moroccan government. Moreover, the North African country is attempting to impose Muslim religious instruction in Spanish public schools, and is pressuring Moroccan families to remove their children from those schools that fail to comply.

The observations are included in a newly leaked secret report prepared by Spain's National Intelligence Center (CNI), excerpts of which have been published by the Madrid-based El País newspaper.

The CNI document says: "Designed and developed by the [Moroccan] regime, the objective is to extend its influence and augment its control over the Moroccan colonies [in Spain] by means of religion."

The CNI document continues: Rabat "has as its main objective the control over its colony [of the one million Moroccan immigrants in Spain] to detect opposition movements to the regime and to prevent the emergence of Islamic currents that depart from the dominant one" in Morocco, which practices the Maliki school of Islam.

Rabat's "principal tool of control" is the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities [FEERI], whose president, Mohamed Hamed Ali, is a resident of the city of Ceuta [a Spanish enclave in northern Africa] and who proposes 'devolving' the city to Morocco," according to the CNI.

FEERI distributes its funds "not only among its members, but also among those associations who are prepared to follow instructions from Rabat." In the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia, where some 235,000 Moroccan immigrants have settled, the main recipient of Moroccan subsidies is the Consell Islàmic Cultural de Catalunya.

"The funds provided by Morocco to the Muslim communities in Spain are reaching considerably important quantities," according to the CNI.

In addition to FEERI, Rabat also supervises the religious beliefs of Moroccan immigrants "through its embassy and consulates, related personnel, and the Hassan II Foundation," which is presided by Princess Lalla Meryem, sister of King Mohamed VI.

The Hassan II Foundation, whose budget is not subject to oversight by the Moroccan parliament, funds Arabic language and Islamic culture classes at more than 100 public schools across Spain where the majority of students are Moroccan immigrants. The CNI says the classes discourage the integration of Muslim youth into Spanish society. "It [the classes] is a tool to teach the children of Moroccan immigrants how to be Moroccan" and not Spanish citizens, according to the CNI.

The "classes are taught exclusively by Moroccan teachers using teaching materials common in Morocco, but very different from those used in Spain, factors which result in that Moroccan youth profoundly internalize the differences" between themselves and their Spanish hosts.

Ultimately, the Moroccan state is thereby able to maintain control over its citizens abroad. With respect to the children, the control is exercised through learning the language and the official state culture." These classes also carry with them "Muslim religious instruction which is difficult to accept from the point of view of the configuration of teaching religion in our educational system," according to the CNI report.

A separate CNI report about financing Jihad in Spain provides other examples of how the Moroccan government is using Islam for political ends. For example, in November 2008, "the Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs organized and paid for a meeting in Marrakesh which was attended by a considerable number of imams and leaders of the Islamic communities in Spain," according to the CNI.

At that meeting, the Moroccan government promised "financing for all religious associations and mosques that are prepared to submit to the control of the [Moroccan] regime and to adhere to its instructions." The keynote speaker at the meeting was Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, head of the Moroccan Secret Service (DGED).

The CNI report also states: "The financing is having negative consequences for [multicultural] coexistence in Spain, such as the emergence of parallel societies and ghettos, Islamic courts and police that operate outside of Spanish jurisprudence, removing girls from schools, forced marriages, etc."

It continues: "There is insufficient control of financial flows involving grants and aid from other countries that are being funnelled to the Islamic community in Spain. For the most part donors are using alternative channels to ensure that their donations escape the control of the regular Spanish financial system. Donors should be made fully aware of the risks associated with such financing."

Morocco recently co-sponsored a weeklong seminar in Barcelona titled "Muslims and European Values" during which it was proposed that the construction of big mosques would be "a useful formula" to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain.

According to Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam: "It is easier to disseminate fundamentalist ideas in small mosques set up in garages where only the members of the congregation attend, than in large mosques that are open to everyone, with prayer rooms, cafes and meeting areas."

Ziani said it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values and that from now on, Europeans should replace the term "Judeo-Christian" with term "Islamo-Christian" when describing Western Civilization.

Soeren Kern


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