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Jewish woman in Morocco poll fray
Maguy Kakon hopes to continue her community's role in the kingdom's political life.
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2011 03:27
Kakon, Social Centre Party candidate, presents herself as 'woman, citizen and Jewish'

A Moroccan political party has selected for the second time a woman from the Jewish faith to head its national women's list for the parliamentary elections in the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim North African country.

Maguy Kakon, 58, a real-estate consultant, was born in Casablanca to Moroccan Jewish parents. She is married with four children.

Though she failed to win in the 2007 elections, Kakon managed to generate 30,000 votes, which encouraged her to enter this year’s elections.

Kakon said she decided to run for the election because of the excellent relations she enjoys with fellow Moroccans and her desire to serve them in parliament.

‘Constitution grant'

Lahsen Madih, secretay-general of the Social Centre Party, said the Moroccan constitution grants Kakon the right to contest in an election as a Moroccan citizen as long as she abides by the laws of the kingdom.

The party’s choice of Kakon reflects the importance of Judaism as an important constituent of the Moroccan identity, Madih said.

Kakon is not the first Jewish Moroccan to enter politics, though. Men from her community have served in parliament before.

In 1956, when Morocco attained independence, Jews had three members in parliament and another of their number in the government: Leon Benzeknin, the minister of post office and health.

Despite their current small numbers, Jews continue to play a role in Morocco's intellectual and economic life, and Jewish schools and synagogues receive government subsidies.

In the 1980s, Serge Birdigho served as the tourism minister. Currently another Jewish Moroccan, Andre Azoulay, is a senior adviser to King Mohammed VI.

'Moroccan first'

Asked by Al Jazeera whether it would be difficult for her to win a seat in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, Kakon said: "First of all I am a Moroccan citizen. Yes I am a Jew and very well-known as a Jewish woman.

"But I have never had problems because of my religion. I was involved in many associations, including Islamic associations, and my religion was never a source of any kinds of problems.

"I do admit that it is not easy for me to run for elections.

"Not because I am Jewish but because I am a woman. Moroccan women, however, are present in all walks of life and I think I should give it a try."

Before the founding of Israel in 1948, there were about 300,000 Jews in Morocco.

The Six-Day War in 1967 led to increased Arab-Jewish tensions worldwide, including Morocco.

By 1971, the Jewish population was down to 35,000; however, this time around most went to Europe and North America rather than Israel.

At present fewer than 7,000 Jews are believed to remain, mostly divided between Rabat and Casablanca.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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