BY Joshua Kohen
BY Joshua Kohen
Washington D.C. – As individuals of Moroccan heritage, each one of us represents a piece of the Moroccan mosaic. Wherever we are in the world, we take a piece of this mosaic with us. Anyone with a connection to the Moroccan soil must know that he or she is an ambassador for the Moroccan identity and territorial integrity regardless of his or her religious, ethnic, or political affiliation. While we might disagree on internal Moroccan issues, we must always stand united against those who do not believe in the Moroccan mosaic that exists between Tangier and Lagouira.
Unfortunately, there are those that do not respect their piece of the Moroccan mosaic. These individuals do not believe in the Moroccan mosaic. They do not want unity. They do not respect diversity. Rather, they want disorder and division. Aminatou Haidar is one of those individuals, presenting herself as the “idol” of a cause with no historical legitimacy. For the Algerian government and their Polisario, she is a symbol of the anti-Moroccan sovereignty. In the eyes of the Moroccan people, she is nothing more than a traitor who sold out her people for the interests of Morocco’s enemies.
In 2010, I went to Morocco as a tourist, rediscovering my lost heritage and trying to reconnect with my lost motherland. Part of reestablishing a connection and developing an affinity for Morocco was learning about its rich history and modern political landscape. I was familiar with the faces of proud Moroccans, as well as the faces of Morocco’s enemies.
Less than 5 years later, on March 30, I found myself confronting Aminatou Haidar, a woman who made a name for herself by going around the world spreading lies about the Kingdom of Morocco. Around the middle of the day, I decided to walk around and enjoy the beautiful spring weather after a harsh and cold winter in DC. I was looking for a restaurant to stop in and enjoy lunch. The moment I entered my favorite Persian restaurant, I see Aminatou Haidar.
I honestly could not believe my eyes but I knew it was her. I’ve seen her face before in various newspapers and I knew her “story”. I was well aware of her agenda and I knew it was to harm Morocco’s reputation and harm its strategic interests. The anger, disgust, and rage all built up the in the minutes to follow. Before I ordered my food from the counter, I rushed straight to the restroom. I remember looking in the mirror, and telling myself “I have two options: either I ignore her presence or I remind her that she is a shame to the Moroccan people”. I opted for the latter. I realized that by expressing how I felt, I was speaking on behalf of all the Moroccan people and for this reason, I recorded it. By US law, one is allowed to film people in public spaces so I knew I was safe to do so.
I exited the restroom and walked over, asking Aminatou if she was who I thought. An American woman, accompanying her, confirmed that it was Aminatou Haidar after she looked me over suspiciously with a nervous smile. Immediately, my emotions poured out. I told Aminatou “shame on you for telling people lies about her country.” I told her that I am proud of my Moroccan heritage and that she should also be proud. Then I began to tell her in Arabic that she should be ashamed. Aminatou and the young man accompanying her (apparently her son) looked at me, lost for words. Aminatou began to look down and she tilted her head in shame and embarrassment. She knew what I was saying, especially when I spoke Arabic. And I could see the shock and confusion in her eyes. She did not think a young man of my appearance would even recognize her. The American woman was also surprised and did not know how to reply so she interjected: “We don’t need harassment.”
I was only expressing my freedom of speech after recognizing a woman who tells lies about a country I sincerely love. I felt no shame in approaching her table and telling her what every Moroccan thinks. Meanwhile, Aminatou did not even mutter a single word and neither did her son. Honestly, I was struck by her inability to defend herself after I said “Hchoma alayki”. was expecting a rebuttal but there was none. This only further proved that she is an actress and a fake.
By not replying to my words, she plays the victim guard and her propagandists present her as the victim of a Moroccan “harasser”. In reality, she tries to avoid Moroccans around the world because she is too ashamed to have dialogue with her fellow compatriots whom she betrayed for a “cause” that is rooted in the Cold War. If someone has a true cause, he or she should at least be ready to respond to anyone who questions his or her legitimacy. But Aminatou sat in silence.
I was not the Spanish media. I was not the Kennedy Center. I was not a Polisario representative. I was her fellow Moroccan and she could not even give me an answer to my statements. At the end of this 30 second exchange, I left the restaurant and decided to eat elsewhere. I would not allow myself to be insulted by dining in this woman’s presence. She betrayed her people and I wanted to remind her that she is still a Moroccan despite all her fabricated stories and selective memory.
I wanted Aminatou to know that no matter where she goes in the world, she will always be a shame to her people. And as someone from Moroccan Jewish origin, I was reminding the Moroccan people that their Jewish compatriots are always ready to defend Morocco and its cause.
Aminatou’s supporters can call me the “Moroccan Jewish dog” on social media, but I accept this insult as the biggest compliment because I am proud to defend Morocco and promote Morocco everywhere I go. As someone whose ancestors lived on Moroccan soil since the time of Moulay Idriss, the founder of Morocco, I know that Aminatou represents a “cause” with no historical legitimacy.
Before the French and Spanish colonization of North African lands, the Sahara region was always under Moroccan sovereignty. One does not need to be a genius to understand this simple fact, yet some in the world choose to ignore history and give Aminatou Haidar a platform to stand on, the Kennedy Center in particular.
After reflecting on this encounter, I realized the American woman who accompanied Aminatou Haidar is also a shame to the American people. The entire Kennedy Center is a shame to the American people for supporting a woman against our oldest ally, the Moroccan kingdom. Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States of America as an independent and sovereign nation in the 1776. Shame on any American citizen who attempts to give an anti-Moroccan separatist group any form of legitimacy.
Morocco was America’s first friend and I hope the American government and all American citizens continue to stand by Morocco’s side instead of catering to the remnants of Cold War enemies (Polisario).
The African continent is full of disorder and violence, yet the Kennedy Center chooses to single out the only ounce of hope on the continent, the Kingdom of Morocco. As an American citizen of Moroccan heritage, I am proud to defend Morocco and promote the precious friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco.
I hope my encounter with Aminatou Haidar will inspire all people of Moroccan origin to always stand up for what they believe is right and to always promote Morocco. After receiving hundreds of messages in support of my actions, and being all over the Moroccan media, I just want to say that I did it for all Moroccans. I said what any Moroccan would say. Morocco may not be perfect, but Morocco is a beacon of light on the African continent where instability, war, and hatred has become the norm.
At the end of the day, my biggest inspiration is the destitute Moroccans deep in the remote areas of the Atlas Mountains. These people have the most difficult lives, but they are still proud to be Moroccans. They did not sell out their identities. We owe it to them to be proud and help each other. We have a duty to protect our sovereignty and to preserve our mosaic of peoples. We must support the efforts of loyal Moroccans and His Majesty Mohammed VI to advance Morocco. Aminatou seeks division but the true Moroccan people seek unity, progression, and prosperity. Allah AlWatan AlMalik w Dima Maghrib min Tanja Li Gouira!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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