Early on Sunday 27 June, Jeune Afrique published an article on the Moorish Emergence. It was in fact a politically oriented column, barely disguised as a piece of journalism. Nina Kozlowski, a journalist for Jeune Afrique, had contacted a member of the Moorish Organisation to write the article.
What was actually said during this exchange?
On 18 May 2021, a member of the Moorish Organisation was approached by journalist Nina KOZLOWSKI for journalistic research. The exchange was based on basic questions. However, this is not what appears in the recent article published by Jeune Afrique. Perhaps the journalist was expecting polemical, clumsy or even slanderous comments. This was obviously not the case.
What has been written is in fact an incriminating article that explicitly resembles the modelled discourse of some of the Moorish Organisation's detractors. The Moorish Organisation does not give the slightest consideration to non-constructive or defamatory offences against it. It is speaking out this time in the light of the slanderous remarks addressed to it in the article published by Jeune Afrique.
Titled "Morocco - the Moorish, X-ray of a connected nationalism", the article is in this case only slightly - if at all - connected to the reality of the Moorish emergence and its sociological complexity. The article mainly refers to news stories from Morocco. There is almost no mention of the different communication channels of the Moorish Organisation and the content they publish.
The article, which claims to be specifically about the Moorish, discusses: the Twittoma as a whole in relation to the recent Moroccan-Spanish diplomatic crisis; the case of Abdeslam Ouaddou; the enthusiasm of Moroccans following Trump's declaration last December; nominally targeted lambdas "fake accounts"... In short, it is not clear what the above topics have to do with the content that is explicitly published by the various communication channels affiliated with the Moorish Organisation.
This article is in fact a biased and barely concealed tribune largely inspired by the journalist's anti-system entourage. A work that is ultimately very unobjective & professional and which is somewhat disappointing given what one is used to reading at Jeune Afrique. An intellectual dishonesty that should be corrected. The following is a reconstruction of the interview between the journalist and Carl Johnson, quoted in the article.
NINA: WHEN, HOW AND THROUGH WHAT WAS THIS MOVEMENT BORN? WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE PART OF THE FIRST CIRCLE OF FOUNDERS?
CARL JOHNSON: The Moorish concept originally emerged to counter the misuse of the name 'Moorish', mainly in the English-speaking world.
Moorish is still awkwardly used to define Black or African-American populations, while the 'Moors' are historically the ancestors of the Moroccans. The Moors were the inhabitants of the Maghreb Al Aqsa, the far west of North Africa. In other words, the populations of earlier Moroccan dynasties as well as those of the same region during antiquity were called 'Moors'.
Similarly, the emergence of Moorish was partly justified by the weak presence of Moroccan voices on social media. There was no Moroccan voice of reference to defend the interests of the Moroccan community as well as to promote Morocco in all its dimensions.
The succession of these observations prompted this Moorish emergence to diversify its horizons. The components of the Moroccan identity [History & Culture] being attacked, defamed or even appropriated; this Moorish emergence naturally positioned itself in front of these problems and seized the responsibility to face these offenses.
The emergence of Moorish was a natural consequence. They are Moroccans driven by the love of their country, Morocco. They are committed to the defence of everything that concerns the Kingdom in any way. The Moorish emergence has at heart only one constant: the love of the country. We would therefore define ourselves simply as patriots, nothing more, nothing less.
Our primary interest is to make Moroccans aware of their rich history and heritage, their immemorial values and their national identity. We also aim to defend Morocco's national interests - interests which, in the opinion of the Moorish Organisation, transcend political affiliations and which we therefore consider to be a primary and legal duty incumbent on all Moroccans as expressed in Article 38 of the Moroccan Constitution: "All citizens contribute to the defence of the Homeland and its territorial integrity against any aggression or threat".
NINA: HERE WE ENTER INTO POLEMICAL QUESTIONS BUT I AM ALSO INTERESTED IN THE SUBSTANCE, DON'T THINK IT'S A TRAP, JUST I AM CURIOUS AND I LIKE TO BE EXHAUSTIVE.
CARL JOHNSON: Don't worry, the Moorish Organisation is not averse to this type of question. On the contrary, we enjoy being confronted with this type of questioning. It helps to shed light on grey areas that often wrongly slander the organisation.
NINA: DOES THE MOORISH ORGANISATION HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE COLOUR BLACK? DO YOU DENY THAT BEFORE THE ROMAN COLONIZATION, THE MOORS (ACCORDING TO MANY ACADEMIC WRITINGS) WERE A PREDOMINANTLY BLACK POPULATION, MIXED WITH THE BERBERS, LIGHTER SKINNED (STILL ACCORDING TO SOME SOURCES), THE RANGE OF COLOURS WIDENED CONSIDERABLY.
CARL JOHNSON: The Moorish Organisation doesn't have any kind of problem with the colour black.
The Moorish Organisation has mobilised numerous historical and biological sources as well as academic literature in order to take a coherent and well-founded position on the question of the Moors. Our conclusions are without appeal: the Moors have always been a population with a large Berber majority.
There may have been, in the course of history, small movements of sub-Saharan populations after the Almoravid era [10th century]. That said, these influences in no way call into question the fact that the Moors have always been Berbers.
We are not specifically fighting against Black populations who identify with the Moors. We position ourselves as a bulwark against anyone who would have the ambition to rewrite the history of Morocco and its original people: the Moors.
There is a real desire to rewrite history, which partly revolves around the Afrocentric current. The Moorish Organisation is firmly opposed to the distortion of the history of Morocco. It is in this sense that it has been working continuously for over a year now.
Furthermore, we are willing to share with you all the information relating to our position on the question of the Moors, originally a Berber people.
NINA: WELL, I UNDERSTAND YOUR DESIRE TO DEFEND THE INTERESTS OF THE MOROCCAN NATION, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE SOMETIMES RADICAL COMMENTS OF SOME OF YOUR SUPPORTERS? YOU SEEM TO BE AN EXTREMELY CULTURED AND EDUCATED PERSON, I IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE ATTACHED TO THE IDEA OF DEBATE AND DISCUSSION.
CARL JOHNSON: Regarding the radical rhetoric of our [so-called] supporters: the Moorish Organisation is essentially responsible for what is disseminated through its official communication channels.
Of course, the Moorish Organisation does not encourage extremist outbursts from those who identify with the Moorish emergence. That said, we have no control over what is said on either side.
The discourse through the various Moorish communication channels is far from extremist. On the contrary, we favour a pedagogical and constructive approach in all circumstances.
To some extent, the Moorish Organisation has no reason to be overly alert on this issue. Extremist outbursts from one side or the other exist everywhere. The Organisation is naturally no exception to this.
NINA: AND WHAT ABOUT THE DESIRE FOR ARAB-CENTRIC REWRITING?
CARL JOHNSON: The Moorish Organization stands against unfounded and misleading rewriting. This also applies to the Arab-centric rewriting.
The Organisation is not about imposing a particular way of thinking. It is committed to the truth. We do not deny the various Arab components of the Moroccan identity, whether it be its history or its culture.
The organisation strives to value the truth and to refute what is imaginary or exclusively ideological.
NINA: IT SEEMS TO ME THAT YOU USE THE EMBLEMS OF THE DIFFERENT DYNASTIES THAT HAVE RULED MOROCCO (AND BEYOND), AMONG ALL THESE DYNASTIES, IS THERE ONE THAT IS PRIVILEGED BY THE MOVEMENT FOR ITS CONTRIBUTION TO THE MOROCCAN HERITAGE?
CARL JOHNSON: The Moorish Organization does not aspire to define a preference for one part of its history over another. Each dynasty will have added value to the building. We are committed to the promotion and enhancement of the different contributions.
Enhancement does not mean "embellishment". This enhancement is carried out through intellectual and pedagogical means. The way in which knowledge is transmitted, the way in which sources are collected and their reliability ensured: it is in this sense that the enhancement of Moroccan history and heritage should be understood more broadly.
On the other hand, the organisation is careful not to overlook any part of its history. The Moorish philosophy aims to bring to light what is ignored [or known only approximately] by Moroccans.
NINA: EARLIER YOU MENTIONED THE TERM "MOORISH ORGANISATION". DOES THIS MEAN THAT YOUR MOVEMENT IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE STRUCTURED, AND IF SO, FOR WHAT PURPOSE? DO YOU WANT TO GO BEYOND INFLUENCE ON SOCIAL NETWORKS?
CARL JOHNSON: Yes, the Moorish emergence is becoming more and more structured. The Moorish emergence is not understood by everyone. Our organisation is often associated with individuals or communication channels that have no affiliation with our organisation. Similarly, the parentage of some hashtag initiatives is wrongly attributed to our Organisation. In particular, reference may be made to the hashtag offending the Moroccan Minister of Culture. The organisation formally objects to being associated with similar initiatives.
The structuring of the Organisation is also taking place for practical reasons. The horizons of the Organisation have diversified. The Organisation intends to intervene where it could play a relevant role. This is what it has started to do, notably through the humanitarian operations it has recently carried out.
NINA: IN MOROCCO, YOUR OPPONENTS CLAIM THAT THE SERVICES ARE BEHIND YOU, THAT THE DEEP STATE SUPPORTS YOU.
CARL JOHNSON: With regard to those who are described as our "opponents", some clarification might be in order.
The Moorish Organisation encourages debate and does not seek to impose a particular way of thinking. Moroccans who do not agree with the content disseminated through our communication channels cannot be qualified as "adversaries".
The Moorish Organisation advocates inter-Moroccan dialogue and is committed to the unity of its People, despite differences of opinion.
Criticism and opposition are not bad things in themselves, quite the contrary. It is through criticism and the existence of a constructive opposition that Morocco is led to progress. That said, the Organisation keeps its distance from nihilistic dynamics, which are by their very nature unproductive.
It may seem simplistic to be accused of being the product of a "deep state" on the pretext of ardently defending the interests of one's country and people. In reality, we attach little importance to these accusations.
To some extent, these accusations obstruct freedom of thought and expression. We naturally prefer the confrontation of ideas to the disqualification of ideas by categorising them as non-debatable.
NINA: WE CAN SEE THAT ANONYMITY IS WHAT FUELS ALL THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND OUTING ATTEMPTS. SO WHY THIS CHOICE?
CARL JOHNSON: The anonymity of the organisation is interesting for several reasons. The Moorish Organisation assumes that what matters is not so much the messenger as the message being conveyed. In this sense, revealing the identity of the contributors is secondary.
In addition, some contributors opt for anonymity for safety and security purposes. There are legitimate concerns. Other contributors opt for anonymity for the sake of their privacy.
More broadly, anonymity is not absolute within the Moorish Organisation in that interacting and sharing thoughts breaks out of the strictly anonymous framework.
NINA: AT THE MOMENT, HOW MANY FOUNDERS, LEADERS & ACCOUNT MANAGERS DOES THE ORGANISATION HAVE? HOW MANY SUPPORTERS?
CARL JOHNSON: With regard to the precise information about the Moorish Organisation, it does not seem appropriate to reveal it. The Organisation is that of all Moroccans and does not claim nominal authorship.
For supporters, one should refer to the subscribers of the different Moorish communication channels:
@MoorishMovement, @MoorishTimes, @Moorskingdom, @MoorishFacts, @MoorishMovEN, @MoorishMovNL, @MoorishMovAR, @MoorishTmazight, @MoorishMovES, @WealthofMorocco, @LeMaureMalikite, @MoroccanArchive,@MocroSoccer, @MocroTeam.
Some of these pages are also present on other social networks such as InstaGram, FaceBook or TikTok.
NINA: WE CAN ALSO SEE THAT ARABIC SPEAKERS HAVE JOINED IN, BEFORE THE MOVEMENT WAS VERY FRENCH/ENGLISH SPEAKING, HOW DID THE JUNCTION TAKE PLACE?
CARL JOHNSON: Actually, Arabic-speaking Moorish groups existed before the emergence of [French-speaking] Moorish in the Twitter space. That said, the Moorish Organisation is independent around the above-mentioned communication channels.
NINA: AND IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT THE LEADERS OF THE MOVEMENT ARE MOTHERS?
CARL JOHNSON: As far as MREs are concerned, they are a significant part of the Moorish Organisation. But there are also local Moroccans in the organisation.
NINA: I ALSO COME BACK TO THE "MRE" ASPECT OF THIS MOVEMENT, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT IS AN ARGUMENT USED BY YOUR DETRACTORS. MANY MOORISH PEOPLE ARE AGAINST THE ABOLITION OF ARTICLE 490 OF THE PENAL CODE, HONESTLY WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF CITIZENS WHO LIVE IN EUROPE?
CARL JOHNSON: The question you ask is interesting and tends to raise another question: should local Moroccans be the only ones concerned by the socio-legal dimension of Morocco? MREs enjoy their civil and political rights in Morocco: should they be excluded from the democratic process and societal debates because they do not live on the national territory?
The organisation wishes to express its disappointment with Jeune Afrique for allowing the publication of this defamatory and manipulative paper. Moreover, the quality of the writing is far below what one is used to reading.
The Moorish Organisation takes this opportunity to remind once again that it is only responsible for what is disseminated through its official communication channels. Therefore, anything that is disseminated through other channels than those mentioned above should not be associated with the Moorish Organisation.
Similarly, the Organisation invites the journalist to provide even one piece of evidence to support the fact that the Berber identity is "despised" through our communication channels. If she is unable to do so, it is suggested that she correct this error. If the journalist is not conciliatory, then we invite her to wallow in her intellectual mediocrity. In fact, we are not far behind, given the journalistic poverty through which she has been able to illustrate herself. We call on Jeune Afrique to monitor more carefully what is published through it.
The Berber identity - in the same way as all the other components of the Moroccan identity - is widely promoted by the content published through the Moorish communication channels. The Moorish Organisation is in line with the impetus given by His Majesty King Mohammed VI during his speech in Ajdir in 2001, in which it is explained that "the Amazigh constitutes a main element of the national culture, and a cultural heritage whose presence is manifested in all expressions of Moroccan history and civilisation".
This misjudgement by Nina Kozlowski, if it can be called that, is indicative of the insufficient consideration of the Moorish emergence. It can be said that the journalist has missed the point.
Finally, the Moorish Organisation would like to make a necessary clarification. It is hereby brought to the attention of public opinion and to any person having an interest in the issue of Moorish Identity or emergence: That neither Mr Armando Smith, nor Dr Mohamed Badine El Yattioui are the founders, initiators or leaders of the Organisation. That any false allegation that these two individuals are behind or have influenced the Moorish Organization is a false allegation. As a final clarification, Mr. Armando Smith and Dr. Mohamed Badine El Yattioui are not members of the Moorish Organization.