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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05CASABLANCA1316
2005-12-21 11:29:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Consulate Casablanca
Cable title:  

IOM AND GOVERNMENT OF MOROCCO HOLD JOINT

Tags:   PHUM  SMIG  PREF  PREL  SOCI  ELAB  MO 
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FM AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
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INFO RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 7366
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0570
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 2742
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RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 0213
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0565
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
						UNCLAS CASABLANCA 001316 

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y -- ADDING CAPTION

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE ALSO FOR G/TIP, INL/TIP, DRL/IL, DRL/BA, NEA/ENA,
NEA/RA, IWI, PRM, AND G

STATE PLEASE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SMIG PREF PREL SOCI ELAB MO
SUBJECT: IOM AND GOVERNMENT OF MOROCCO HOLD JOINT
CONFERENCE ON MIGRATION AND RELIGION




1. (U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified. Please
protect accordingly.



2. (U) Marking International Migrants Day, December 18, the
International Organization of Migration (IOM) released a
statement saying, "More attention should be paid by the
international community to the large numbers of migrants
stranded far from their homes and in need of assistance and
protection." These sentiments were closely echoed earlier
this month at a conference organized by IOM and the Moroccan
Ministry in Charge of Moroccans Living Abroad. The
conference, held on December 5-6, entitled "Migration and
Religion in a Globalized World", drew participants from over
40 countries and formally addressed such topics as, the role
of religion in the migratory process, the role of the media,
and the sensitization of youth to religious tolerance.
Informally, however, many of the speakers tied their
presentations to terrorism often linked to immigrants and
the perceptions and misperceptions of Islam in the West.



--------------------------


Opening Remarks Address Concerns of Terrorism


--------------------------





3. (U) Prime Minister Driss Jettou opened the conference by
reaffirming Morocco's commitment to its international
obligation to preserve the identity and rights of migrants.
Morocco has a long history of supporting diversity, said
Jettou, and will continue to do so. The PM, however, very
quickly zeroed in on the challenges many countries, and
Morocco in particular, are facing regarding clandestine
migration and its links to organized crime, as well as the
problem of international terrorism unreasonably veiled under
the cover of religion.



4. (U) The injustice of the perceived linking of Islam and
terrorism in the West was a sentiment that was seconded by
another of the opening speakers, Nezha Chekrouni, Minister
Delegate in Charge of Moroccans Living Abroad, who was the
motivating force behind the conference. The Minister
reminded listeners that Arabs too are victims of terrorism
and that terrorism by its very nature can not be Islamic.
Her strongest point, however, was hammered home when she
relayed her belief that xenophobia will greatly hinder the
forward march of democracy and only democracy will put an
end to terrorism.



--------------------------


Calls for Tolerance and Respect


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The speakers were unanimous in their desire to see
the international community adopt an approach to migration
based on tolerance and respect. Panels addressed what they
see as a desperate need for education on religious tolerance

and highlighted the necessity to concentrate on the younger
generations from both the sending and the host country
communities. Many panel members called on Governments in
both host and originating countries to step in and lead the
way. According to the Senegalese Minister of Senegalese
Abroad "Western youth should be educated on Islam and in
return there should be no fear of the West here."



6. (SBU) The role of the media was emphasized as well,
underscoring the influential and crucial function it plays.
The consensus was that the media can act as a bridge or a
chasm between immigrants and their new country influencing
public opinion on migration and religion. One participant,
an official from Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
denounced Western media blaming it for the demonization of
Islam after the attacks in Spain and London, as well as on
CONFERENCE ON MIGRATION AND RELIGION

the World Trade Center. The media, he claimed, is creating
an atmosphere of prejudice and intolerance in the West.
While another panelist pointed to the beneficial ties the
media has helped to create, linking immigrants to their home
countries via satellite broadcasts and internet media
access.



--------------------------


Eating Couscous in Amsterdam


--------------------------





7. (U) While many of the participants spoke from a strictly
eastern or western perspective two panelists presented a
unique viewpoint reserved for those with a foothold in each
world. Mohamed Baba, a Dutch-Moroccan partner in Mex-it,
Advisors on Intercultural Management and Fatima Elatik, a
Dutch-Moroccan, Vice-Governor of the district of Zeeburg in
Amsterdam, spoke of their experiences as second generation
Muslims living in Europe. According to Baba the way to see
successful integration of immigrants, and consequently
lessen the threat of extremism, is to concentrate on better
housing, education, and jobs. Additionally, new stiffer
security measures, he claims, are hardening the society and
forcing people to adopt negative attitudes towards new
immigrants, hindering integration. Elatik, an outspoken
woman sporting a headscarf fashionably knotted behind her
neck, spoke plainly about the problem of migrants in Europe
as a problem of integration not a problem of Islam. After
three generations of citizenship, she stated, "people like
me are still called immigrants and that has to stop."
Muslims in Europe, in her opinion, are struggling to find
their identity and that may be part of what is leading some
to the threshold of extremism. Acceptance and integration,
she advised, are the only answers.



--------------------------


No Easy Task


--------------------------





8. (U) Minister Delegate Chekrouni closed the conference by
reminding the participants that, for most immigrants,
reconciling their principles and values with those of their
host countries is not an easy task. It is, however, vital
that all immigrants respect the laws in force in their host
countries. She wrapped up by reminding everyone that the
objective of the conference was to create a space for
dialogue on the issue and stressed the idea that "the
adversary that we should face is extremism."



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





9. (SBU) The goal of the conference in opening up a
dialogue to explore the link between religion and migration
in order to help governments form policies was well served
and Minister Delegate Chekrouni is to be congratulated for
her role in organizing the conference. However, sadly
lacking from the discussion was any mention, beyond the
opening remarks of PM Jettou, of the challenges faced by
countries, like Morocco, who are not only originating but
destination countries for migrants. While rightly demanding
that its citizens abroad are treated justly, Morocco must
demonstrate to the international community its respect for
those who cross its borders in search of a better way of
life. GREENE