How Middle East and North Africa governments and political leaders reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attacks

The brutal terrorist attacks in Paris which targeted the headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, as well as a kosher grocery store, left 17 people dead. An outpouring of international support for the French government and people has been heard in the days since.

Laura Danielle and Kevin Moore break down how some governments and political leaders in the Middle East and North Africa responded to the events.

Charlie Hebdo Unity March
World leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President François Hollande and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, take part in a Unity rally Marche Republicaine in Paris on 11 January 2015 (via PATRICK KOVARIKPATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Geert Wilders’ anti-Moroccan hate speech lands him a date in court

Freedom of speech is often considered to be the pinnacle of democracy, yet through the years we have seen many instances where this concept has been misused and even abused. When the concept of ‘freedom of speech’ is stretched beyond recognition in order to polarise a particular group within any given society, we are no long dealing with freedom of any kind, or someone merely stating their personal opinion. In cases like these, we are dealing with hate speech, intended to incite hostility and demean the group of people in question. This is exactly what Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch ‘Party for Freedom’ (PVV), was guilty of when he attacked the entire Moroccan-Dutch population for the umpteenth time in March 2014.

Geert Wilders
Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders (via The Daily Mail)

On 19 March 2014, on the eve of the municipal elections, Mr. Wilders led an anti-Moroccan chant whilst addressing a large group of supporters at a cafe in The Hague. He asked the question: “Would you like to have more or fewer Moroccans in our country?” to which the crowd responded: “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” Wilders then replied: “Then we’ll fix it for you.” In addition to this, in a later televised interview he referred to the Moroccan population as “Moroccan scum.” [1]

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Flooding in Morocco: An interview with Mhamed Alhilali

In the aftermath of heavy rainfall that led to flooding in many areas of southern Morocco, Kevin Moore from Al Miraah had the opportunity to speak with Mhamed Alhilali, Project Director of Casablanca-based Moroccan NGO Amis des Écoles. Mr. Alhilali was born in raised in Tata and has long been involved in social and charitable work within his community.

Mhamed Alhilali distributing aid on behalf of Amis des Écoles in Akka, Tata.
Mhamed Alhilali distributing aid on behalf of Amis des Écoles in Akka, Tata.

Can you describe the extreme weather that affected the southern regions of the Kingdom of Morocco recently? What were the human casualties and physical damage that occurred as a result of the heavy rains?
Torrential rains poured down on the south of the Kingdom of Morocco from 21-30 November 2014, claiming the lives of more than 40 people in various affected cities. In some areas, as much as 250 ml of rain fell. However, the toll was heaviest in the ill-fated city of Guelmim, where the infrastructure, roads and public spaces were damaged. Roads and pathways were destroyed and a number of villages and rural areas were isolated from the outside world. Land and trees were swept away, greatly impacting farming and killing a large amount of livestock — sheep, cows and goats. Meanwhile, services like water, electricity and phone lines were cut off in some areas for nearly a week.

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