Moroccans expressed disapproval at Marrakech hosting the 2019 “Mediterranean Delight Festival” over the organizer’s alleged Israeli identity.
Rabat – A belly dancer named Simona Guzman, whom some claim is Israeli, is organizing, for the second time in Morocco, her annual international belly dance festival “Mediterranean Delight Festival” in Marrakech June 3-10.
The news stirred outrage among social media users, especially because the event coincides with the ten last nights of Ramadan, which Muslims hold especially sacred and dedicate to all-night vigils.
In 2011, Guzman hosted her festival in the ochre city of Marrakech, but the Moroccan government banned the festival the next year after several organizations objected to it.
Commenting on the ban, Guzman described the government as a “hypocrite” and “coward.” In a Facebook post, she reportedly blamed the cancellation of her festival on “fanatic Moroccan Islamist movements.”
Guzman instead chose Greece as her alternative destination and claimed to have received threats on social media before she decided to leave Morocco “for her and the participants’ safety.”
Guzman has denied she’s Israeli, saying “I am a Turkish citizen.” But several organizations in Marrakech argue otherwise and have denounced what they perceive as a “normalization” of ties with Israel. They are planning to protest in front of the hotel hosting the festival.
In a statement, the Moroccan Observatory Against Normalization also expressed its objection to the event, describing it as a “flagrant crime against Morocco’s sovereignty and the sentiments of Moroccan citizens.”
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Morocco expressed delight at the cancellation of the 2012 event after they contacted former Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane, urging him to take action against “whitewashing Israeli crimes.”