NEW YORK (Sep. 24)
The expected visit of President Nasser of Egypt in Morocco next month is provoking great apprehension among Jews in Casablanca, it was reported today from Morocco in the Christian Science Monitor. The report recalled that, when Nasser visited Morocco in 1961, official anti-Zionism in that country degenerated into anti-Semitic actions by the police.
Although the Jewish population in Morocco continues to dwindle, tension is nevertheless rising between the Moslem religious authorities and the Jewish minority in Morocco, the report stressed. This tension, the report said, has developed especially because of a report about two months ago that Allal al-Fassi, Minister of Islamic Affairs, told a meeting of provincial officials that “every Moroccan is a Moslem; the Moroccan Jew is only a ‘dhimmi.’ Henceforth, no foreigner may acquire Moroccan nationality unless he embraces Islam.”
“Dhimmi” is a term of Moroccan law denoting Christians or Jews who traditionally enjoy special status and protection under the government but who are not full citizens. This term has not been applied to Jews in Morocco. On the contrary, King Hassan II and his late father assured the Jews that they are “full Moroccan citizens, with the same rights and duties as their others.”
Moroccan Jewry’s monthly newspaper, La Voix des Communautes, indignantly reminded Mr. Fassi of this. One contributor to the paper demanded that unless the minister denied or retracted the statement, the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities, with the support of the Grand Rabbi of Morocco, should bring about court action against Mr. Fassi. The paper also attacked what it called “forced conversions” to Islam of young Jewish girls who married Moslems. Several such marriages have come to public attention recently.
Akhbar al-Dounia, a non-party newspaper which often takes a strong pan-Arab stand, defended Mr. Fassi, who it said was only correctly expressing the position of the Jews as defined under Koranic law. It charged Casablanca Jews with holding “secret meetings,” and said the government was concerned about unspecified “new political maneuvers-of the Jews. It appears,” added Akhbar al-Dounia, “that the government will adopts a two-part attitude, attempting to curb these maneuvers by legal means; otherwise to employ force.” No official sources confirmed this.