Italy, Morocco hold talks on Libya

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates Nasser Bourita during a meeting on Libya. (Maroc Diplomatique)
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Updated 08 October 2020

Italy, Morocco hold talks on Libya

  • Moroccans are currently the largest non-EU immigrant community in Italy
  • Italy and Tunisia welcomed the international initiatives under the UN process

ROME: Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has praised “the dynamic of openness, progress and modernity” advocated by the King of Morocco Mohammed VI.

During a meeting in Rome with Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita, Di Maio stressed “the need for regional and international parties to work together to help the Libyans find a lasting political settlement.”

In a press conference at the Italian Ministry of Foreign affairs, the Italian foreign minister also praised Morocco for its support of the process of implementation of advanced status in its relations with the EU, as well as the follow-up of the Morocco-EU action plan.

Both foreign ministers agreed to “continue to work for the strengthening of the privileged partnership between Morocco and the EU within the framework of an ambitious strategic vision.”

According to the joint statement issued at the end of the official visit, Luigi Di Maio “welcomed the course set by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, in a dynamic of open progress and modernity, through the design of an adapted and renewed development model and the promotion of advanced regionalization.”

Noting “the depth and quality of the ties of friendship and mutual respect that unite Morocco and Italy, as well as the positive dynamics of bilateral relations,” the two ministers welcomed the prospect of the “multidimensional strategic partnership between Morocco and Italy.”

They agreed to establish appropriate mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation, namely a partnership council at ministerial level and cooperation committees on priority issues.

Both parties confirmed their commitment to deepen economic and commercial collaboration between the two countries, an instrument of growth and friendly relations, and confirmed their intention to organize as soon as possible a “business forum to facilitate contacts and agreements between companies and economic institutions of both countries.”

The forum should take place next year, on the 30th anniversary of the agreement signed in 1991 on friendship and cooperation between Morocco and Italy.

Bourita and Di Maio noted “with mutual appreciation the important contributions of the communities of both countries in terms of economic, cultural and human contribution, and as active actors of Moroccan-Italian cooperation and factor to bring together the two countries.”

After recalling that Italy is the fifth trading partner of Morocco and the fifth provider of tourists, Bourita said that “Morocco’s ambition is to further strengthen our partnership.”

Moroccans are currently the largest non-EU immigrant community in Italy. Moroccans in Italy mainly live in the north: In Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna, the regions suffering the highest death tolls due to COVID-19.

It is an economically active community — 20 percent of the Moroccan community is composed of entrepreneurs.

In the previous legislature, Italy’s Parliament included two MPs of Moroccan origin. Many Moroccans are doctors who have been working in Italian hospitals to combat COVID-19.

Libya was one of the main issues discussed at the bilateral meeting. Both ministers, Italian diplomatic sources told Arab News, stressed the “need for regional and international parties to work together to help the Libyans find a lasting political settlement.”

Italy and Tunisia welcomed the international initiatives under the UN process, particularly the meetings held in Bouznika, Morocco, in September and October 2020.

“They testify to the constructive role that Morocco is playing for the resolution of this crisis,” the same source said.

“On Libya in particular, we have seen a real convergence of views and positions,” Bourita said. “Morocco greatly appreciates the constant, constructive and positive attitude of Italy on the Libyan issue, as Italy has always worked to preserve the stability and unity of Libya, which is a fundamental objective for us,” he said.


French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

Updated 7 sec ago

French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

  • President Emmanuel Macron: Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country
  • French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom

PARIS: French police on Monday launched a series of raids targeting extremist networks three days after the beheading of a history teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The operation came a day after tens of thousands of people took part in rallies countrywide to honor history teacher Samuel Paty and defend freedom of expression.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said “dozens” of individuals were being probed for suspected radicalization.

While they were “not necessarily linked” to Paty’s killing, the government aimed to send a message that there would be “not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic,” he added.

Darmanin said the government would also tighten the noose on NGOs with suspected links to extremist networks.

“Fear is about to change sides,” President Emmanuel Macron told a meeting of key ministers Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.

“Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country,” he said.

Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Paris.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen man Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

The grisly killing has drawn parallels with the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where 12 people, including cartoonists, were gunned down for publishing cartoons mocking Mohammed.

Paty had shown his civics class one of the controversial cartoons.

According to his school, Paty had given Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoon in a lesson on free speech, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

The lesson sparked a furor nonetheless and Paty and his school received threats.

Eleven people are being held over his murder, including a known radical and the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who had launched an online campaign against the teacher.

Darmanin accused the two men of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty, using the term for an edict that was famously used to describe the 1989 death sentence handed down against writer Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Anzorov’s family arrived in France from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya when he was six.

Locals in the Normandy town of Evreux where he lived described him as a loner who had become increasingly religious in recent years.

Police are trying to establish whether he acted alone.

Four members of his family are being held for questioning.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when over a million people marched through Paris to defend press freedom, people again gathered at the central Place de la Republique on Sunday to express their horror over Paty’s death.

Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel,” echoing the 2015 “I am Charlie” rallying call for free speech.

French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom.

The government has vowed to step up security at schools when pupils return after half-term.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday, called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat.

Le Pen, who has announced she will make a third bid for the French presidency in 2022, called for an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and for all foreigners on terror watchlists to be deported.

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial, and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the publication’s old office.