By Ouissal El Hajoui
By Ouissal El Hajoui
Morocco World News / Correo Diplomatico
Rabat, December 11, 2o11
Besides the gray beards, Mariano Rajoy and Abedelilah Benkirane are of the same age, and are two politicians who for a long period of time have been in the opposition, conservative and, moreover, have both been elected by the majority of voters to bring about change in their respective countries. A Spaniard from the right wing and a Moroccan Islamist, an impossible match, but in fact, they share more similarities than differences.
During the two governments of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the church rose in another political party. Now, following the victory of the Popular Party (PP), the ecclesiastic institution has manifested that it will not impose itself in any political affairs since it has total confidence in Mariano Rajoy. In Morocco, although religion has always been the platform for politics, on this occasion it will play a role – if possible – as a mere protagonist.
Homosexuality and economic interests
Rajoy has never been in favor of same sex marriages, as he perceives it to be “unnatural.” Benkirane has manifested openly his repugnancy towards homosexuality, arguing that his religion, Islam, prohibits this practice. Meanwhile, Rajoy will seek to modify abortion laws and Benkiran will face feminist groups in his country, who want to follow the example of their Iberian neighbor and legalize abortion. Based on the religious views of Rajoy and Benkirane, both oppose this practice.
Both are aware that Spain and Morocco need each other. Therefore, they have affirmed publicly and privately, that their economic interests will take priority over nationalistic divisions. However, Mariano Rajoy’s party has persecuted the religious practices of Moroccans residing in Spain. The PP has promoted banning the veil and has been against the opening of new mosques. Just as Abdelillah Benkirane recently assured the editorial, Correo Diplomatico, “there are many Moroccans who reside in Spain and Rajoy has to commit to not deprive them of their liberty of practicing religion” Maybe this will be a cause of division.
The Sahara, Ceuta and Melilla will no longer be a problem
A few months ago, the PP was pressuring the PSOE to demand more respect for the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The unforeseen visit to the named cities from Rajoy provoked a major crisis between Rabat and Madrid, which fueled a grand protest in Casablanca led by the principal political parties; a march against the PP and its policies towards Morocco. Now, Arias Cañete, the deputy who heads the foreign portfolio across the region reveals the future government will not ask NATO for a more decisive defense of the Spanish sovereignty over the autonomous North African cities.
Likewise, the same Arias Cañete gave an interview with the magazine, Atenea, where on the contrary to what Rajoy had stated a year ago, noted “The question of Western Sahara only has a solution that involves the United Nations, and it is understanding and dialogue between both parties that will be the only way to end this conflict.” Despite the PP having questioned Zapatero’s Alliance of Civilizations on numerous occasions, the potential new head of Spanish diplomacy emphasized that the Mediterranean Union can provide the definitive push that Spanish-Moroccan relations need…
Translation by Daniela Guerrera and Editing by Benjamin Villanti
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