Originally from Al Hoceima, Zoubida Boughaba Maalem had a bad experience last week.
Invited to give a lecture in the busy Melilla on Monday, January 13, Amazigh New Year’s Day, to present Cuentos populares def Rif (Popular Tales of the Rif), her book, published in Spanish during 2003, she is also a women’s rights activist who has been attacked, even threatened with death, on social networks.
However, contrary to what was reported in several Moroccan media, the conference was not canceled.
The writer did present her book to an audience in Melilla, on the scheduled date, and the event did not suffer any hiccups, but she “remains particularly affected by the movement of hatred of which she was a victim”.
The perpetrators of this virtual intimidation were originally members of an Islamist NGO that is active in the presidency, the Islamic Commission of Melilla (CIM), whose activists also published a message in which they banned the writer, whom they accused of Islamophobia, from coming to Melilla.
“She is a person known for her Islamophobic statements. She claims that the hijab oppresses Muslim women, degrades them and makes them invisible,” said Mohamed Ahmed Moh, president of the CIM, in a letter of protest to the cultural adviser, who is part of the authorities that administer this busy presidency.
As a result of the action of this organization, known for its radical tone, a hate movement followed on social networks, and several Internet users supported the CIM, by attacking the writer’s dignity.
Asked about this by Le360, Zoubida Boughaba Maalem said she felt, following this bad experience, a feeling of fear and injustice that almost forced her to give up the conference.
It is worth noting that the authorities administering the occupied presidency did not take into account the criticisms made by the Islamist NGO, and the writer therefore finally showed up in Melilla last Monday to hold her conference as planned.
“I am shocked to see so much senseless hatred. I am neither Islamophobic nor against the hijab. As an intercultural mediator and Red Cross worker, I spend my time mediating to enable veiled women to find a job or be accepted as they are in Spanish society,” said Boughaba, who rejects the accusations made against her by the Islamists in Melilla.
To present her book, Boughaba has already given several conferences in Morocco, including in Rabat, Marrakech and Al Hoceima.
“It’s astonishing to see that freedom of expression is more open in Morocco than in Melilla, a so-called European city,” she says.