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4 Feminism and Islamism Redefined: In Light of the 2003 Terror Attack on Casablanca 110 In May 2003, five simultaneous explosions shook the city of Casablanca, killing forty-five people, including the twelve men, all Moroccans, involved in the attacks. The targets were a Spanish cultural center hosting a restaurant , a Jewish community center, a Jewish cemetery, the Belgian consulate, and the Farah Hotel. The young men involved in the attack were identified as part of the radical web al-Salafiyya al-jihādiyya. On-the-ground local analysts and activists blamed the attack on social and economic deprivation after learning that the twelve perpetrators came from the shantytown of Sidi Moumen , and more precisely all from the same slum, Douar Toma, and most had very little education and no stable jobs. Links were found between this attack and Osama bin Laden’s videotape broadcast of February 2003, in which he denounced Morocco as one of the apostate states and pointed to American satellites in the region. Media reports about Morocco’s collaboration with Washington and the CIA in their socalled War on Terror were also confirmed through the antennas of al-Jazeera by the Egyptian writer and political analyst Mohamed Hassanein Heikal,1 who cited Rabat among four Arab capitals to which the United States allegedly offshored the interrogation of its detainees after the invasion of Afghanistan.2 Other local and international analysts saw the Casablanca attack as the result of the government’s “importation of Islamist ideology,” notably the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1960s that fought against the secular and leftist discourse of pan-Arabism during the cold war (Darif 1999; Kepel 2000; Tozy 1999), and the Wahhabi doctrine of the 1980s that countered the dissident groups inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. The press, especially the independent and socialist press, played a crucial role in this process by exposing these views to larger audiences. For example, Antoine Basbous, director of the Observatory of Arab Countries in Paris, and speaking for Le Journal-Hebdo, a prominent independent weekly newspaper, refers to “thirty years of infiltration, tolerance, and encouragement of the Wahhabi discourse by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.”3 The Muslim Brotherhood inspired the Islamists of al-‘Adl wa-l-ihsāne and al-Tawhīd wa-l-islāh, who have gradually engaged with social institutions, banned violence, and emphasized self-discipline and education.The Wahhabi doctrine is thought to stand behind the webs of radicals who are allegedly part of al-Salafiyya al-jihādiyya, a group that gained public notoriety only after the Casablanca bombing. The security apparatus erected after the attack pointed to links between this group and the interpretations of Islam conveyed by independent preachers such as Mohamed al-Fizazi or the theologian Hassan al-Kettani, among others, all of whom were found guilty of “incitation to violence,” and were arrested immediately after the attack.4 Following the attack, a string of arrests spanning Morocco and Europe led more people to conjecture that al-Salafiyya al-jihādiyya may be part of a larger web with links to al-Qaeda and transnational Jihadist groups. Deeply shocked by this attack, the Moroccan people shifted their gaze from the trauma of the war in Iraq and the Palestinian intifadah to the problems mushrooming in their own neighborhood. For decades, the official discourse had described Morocco as a land of tolerance and defined it as the place where “modernity” and “authenticity” meet and never clash. Tolerance was perceived through more than one thousand years of cohabitation between the Moroccan Muslim and Jewish communities, and by King Mohammed V’s refusal to deliver the Moroccan Jews to the Vichy government during World War II. Yet the Jewish community was the target of two of these attacks. According to Abdelhamid Amin, a long-standing human rights activist and president of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights, “it is Morocco’s alignment with the agenda of American imperialism that caused the attack.”5 The first reaction of the Moroccan government was to claim that the attack must have been perpetuated by “outsiders.” Confronted with the fact that the persons involved were Moroccan nationals with no obvious connection to global terrorist networks, the pro-government press rushed to rephrase the attack as “an assault on democracy” and “modernity,” both defined as inalienable “rights” and “choices” of the Moroccan people. The independent press, such as Al-Ayām...


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