Even after the authorities in Ait Faska destroyed the controversial Holocaust Memorial for “lack of legal authorization to build,” Bienkowski continued to talk about the issue on social media.
Rabat – The initiator of the recently demolished “Holocaust Memorial” site in Morocco’s Marrakech-Safi region has been told to leave the country in the next 72 hours, local outlets have reported.
The move comes amid what appeared to be a controversy, sparked by news of the building and then the demolition of a Holocaust Memorial site, about the history of Jewish suffering as well as Morocco’s position on the sensitive topic of anti-Semitism.
Olivier Bienkowski, a German national and the founder of Pixel Helper, the non-profit group which conceptualized and built the now demolished site, has since said that his goal was to raise awareness about anti-Semitism, minority rights, and peaceful cohabitation.
On Facebook and Twitter, where he had announced his intention of “building North Africa’s first ever Holocaust Memorial,” Bienkowski was adamant that he wanted to shed some light “on the history of persecuted minorities.”
Moroccan authorities “have no issues” with the Holocaust or celebrating the country’s “proud history” of diversity and peaceful cohabitation between Moroccans of various political and religious persuasions, including Moroccan Jews, Moroccan Arabic newspaper Al Ahdath Al Maghribia reported in its weekend edition.
However, the newspaper added, citing Moroccan officials, the way in which Bienkowski proceeded when building the now bulldozed site showed more contempt and sabotage than genuine care and concern with the history of Moroccan or North African Jews.
Bienkowski built his “so-called Holocaust Memorial” without getting any legal authorization from the competent authorities, government sources told the newspaper.
Apart from his social media posts where he “obsessively” spoke about his plan to “build North Africa’s first ever Holocaust Memorial,” the same sources added, the German did not even bother to ask for the legal authorization required for such a “sensitive, important project.”
For them, the German ignored the country’s regulations, as he intended to put the authorities of Ait Faska (the town in the Marrakech region where the event took place) “before a fait accompli.”
This, they argued, shows that his intentions were malevolent. The German’s ulterior motive was to portray Morocco as anti-Semitic and not open to diversity, according to the government sources.
Even after the authorities in Ait Faska destroyed the controversial site for “lack of legal authorization to build,” Bienkowski continued to talk about the issue on social media.
Some of his posts appeared to subtly berated Morocco for demolishing his project, while others spoke about the importance of “teaching the history of persecuted minorities in schools and in the public sphere.”
Echoing the points made by Ait Faska authorities, Jacky Kadoch, the president of the Jewish community in the Marrakech-Safi region, said that, when looked at more closely, Bienkowski’s goal was to spread misleading ideas about Morocco and its relationship with its Jewish populations and their history.
“Morocco’s position on ethnic censing and anti-Semitism is clear, known to the world,” Kadoch said. He summoned a number of historical and present day illustrations to support his broader point that Morocco has a positive history with its own Jewish populations and the wider Jewish history.
Kadoch’s illustrations included King Mohammed V saving the lives of many Moroccan Jews when he stood up to France’s Vichy government during World War II, as well as King Mohammed VI’s recent, repeated rhetoric and policies in favor of honoring and perpetuating Morocco’s history of “peaceful, harmonious cohabitation” between Muslim and Jewish Moroccans.