Four Moroccan writers, who previously applied for the Sheikh Zayed book award, announced their withdrawal from the competition in protest over the normalization of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel.
The Israeli-UAE deal stirred mixed reactions in the region between countries that welcomed the deal such as Egypt, Oman, Bahrain and Mauritania and those that condemned it: The Palestinian authority, Iran and Turkey.
Yahya Ben El Oualid, one of the writers who backtracked on their application, said that he informed organizers that “the terrible normalization of ties between Emirati politicians and the Zionist entity led me to fully and voluntarily withdraw in a modest gesture of solidarity with the Palestinians.”
El Oualid revealed that he entered the UAE’s prominent Sheikh Zayed literary contest one month ago with his most recent book on “Arab intellectuals.”
Following in El Oualid’s footsteps, Moroccan novelists Zohra Ramij, Ahmed Elluizi, and Abu Youssef also withdrew from the competition for the Sheikh Zayed literary prize.
In a similar move, Moroccan academic Abderrahim Jairan announced his resignation from “Mawrouth,” a prominent Emirati cultural magazine published by the Sharjah Heritage Institute.
Abderrahim Jairan said his resignation was a show of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, which, he said, is “a red line” for Moroccans. “Palestine is a red line and any normalization with the zionist entity … should be rejected.”
Officially, Morocco did not comment on the UAE decision to sign a deal with Israel. Rabat has always supported the two state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.
Jews of Moroccan origins are said to be the second largest community in Israel after Russian Jews. The current Israeli government has ten ministers hailing from Moroccan origins.
Morocco has also stood out in international fora for defending the legitimate rights of Palestinians and for promoting tolerance and coexistence between religions by giving the example at home where Moroccan Jews are recognized in the constitution and enjoy their religious rights fully.
Media reports raised the possibility of Morocco normalizing ties with Israel but no official announcement has been made yet.