By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 11/4/2005 | 3:40 pm
Political parties, trade unions and the civil society will hold on Sunday a national march in Casablanca to call for the release of the two kidnapped Moroccan employees of Rabat's embassy in Baghdad, reported MAP news agency.
The march is designed to denounce the decision of al-Qaida's branch in Iraq to kill the two Moroccan embassy employees abducted last October in the war-torn country.
Al-Zarqawi's militant group said on Thursday it had sentenced the two Moroccan embassy employees to death, after they had been put on trial. The al-Qaida cell accuses the two men of being followers of the US, which it often refers to as a 'despot' country.
The Moroccan government has denounced with the utmost vehemence their barbaric behaviour, which is contrary to the noble precepts of Islam and the fundamental values of humanity
A release of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said that “the Moroccan people, in all its components, strongly stand against this explicit intention to execute the two Moroccan citizens, and it reiterates its appeal for their unconditional release.”
The two men, driver Abderrahim Boualem, 55, and maintenance employee Abdelkrim el-Mouhafidi, 49, are married to Iraqi women and have been living in Iraq for over 20 years, working at the Moroccan Embassy in Baghdad. They were abducted by the Iraq-based terrorist group steered by Jordanian-born Abou Moussab al-Zarqawi on Oct. 20, as they were on their way back from the Moroccan Embassy in Jordan, where they had picked up their salaries.
Morocco sent a mission to Amman on Oct. 25 “to contribute to the research efforts to find the two embassy employees”. The three-member delegation was headed by Mohamed Azeroual, director of Arab and Islamic Affairs at the Moroccan foreign ministry.
In a phone conversation with the Qatar-based al-Jazeera channel, el-Mouhafidi's blind and pregnant wife, Liqaa Abbas Mirza, begged al-Qaida group to free her husband before breaking into tears.
“I beg our mujahedeen brothers in Iraq, who are Muslims by the Islamic law and justice they live by, to release my husband and his friend. They haven't done anything. I am Iraqi,” she said.
The men's relatives, Moroccan politicians and newspapers have begged the group to spare their lives ahead of the Eid al-Fitr celebrated today in Morocco.
France also voiced on Thursday its total sympathy and solidarity with Morocco following al-Qaida's announcement. On Monday, the Iraqi Sunni Council of the Ulemas (religious scholars), made an appeal for the release of the two Moroccan employees. Earlier, a solidarity demonstration was organised in Rabat by the Istiqlal political party to call for their liberation.
In addition, Tayssir Alluni, al-Jazeera journalist imprisoned in Spain for alleged “cooperation” with al-Qaida, along with Haitam Manaa, a member of the International Committee for Defending Tayssir Alluni, have also called for the release of the two Moroccans.
Al-Qaeda tells foreign diplomats in Iraq to leave or face death
Al-Qaida renewed on Friday its threat to kill foreign envoys in Baghdad, a day after it said it would kill two Moroccan embassy hostages. It called on diplomats in the war-torn country to "pack their bags and leave" or face certain death, according to an Internet statement.
"We reiterate our warning to those who insist on maintaining the so-called diplomatic missions in Baghdad," said the statement, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified.
"Let them pack their bags and leave," said the statement signed by "the military wing of the al-Qaida Organisation in the Land of the Two Rivers," headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Baghdad's US-backed government has asked other Arab countries to restore full diplomatic relations with Iraq and said it would set up a protected zone for diplomats to live and work in safety. However, al-Qaida has repeatedly said it would treat these envoys as collaborators with "an infidel government".
The statement accused Washington's "small agents in the region," including the "treacherous Moroccan government" of maintaining diplomatic missions in Baghdad in order "to grant political and security backing that would provide legitimacy" to the Iraqi government.
The new warning was addressed "to those who still do not understand and challenge the will of the mujahedeen (fighters), and especially the missions of countries which have pledged to cooperate with the (Iraqi) apostate government installed by the invading Crusaders (US-led forces)," said the statement.
"We will not spare any effort in tracking them down and punishing them, whoever they are and wherever they are, just as we have done with their predecessors," it added.
The group stressed that they “do not make any difference between the head of the mission and the smallest employee as long as they have agreed to back the criminal government of the (Shiites) and their American master."
So far, over 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Last summer, al-Zarqawi's group abducted and killed two Algerian diplomats, as well as the Egyptian chargé d'affaires in Baghdad.
The Iraqi government has said the abduction and killing of foreign envoys was aimed at undermining its legitimacy and has urged world governments to remain resolute in the face of the dangers of being posted in Baghdad.