Mohamed Chaib, a former Catalan MP : «The majority of Moroccans living in Catalonia refuse independence»

The 2017 Catalan Independence Referendum set for the 1st of October is very important to Morocco. Hundreds if not thousands of Moroccans living in the region will have to take part of this decisive event. How do Moroccans living in Catalonia perceive the referendum ? Are they for the independence of the region ? Two questions among others that Yabiladi asked Mohamed Chaib, a politician, community actor, and a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party. Chaib was the first MP of Moroccan descent to be part of the Catalan parliament. Interview.

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How do Moroccans perceive the 2017 Catalan Independence Referendum set for the 1st of October ?

With concern. Moroccans have never wanted such a historical change because the majority wants Catalonia to be part of Spain as it is today. They believe in Catalonia and Spain.

Based on your experience, do you think Moroccans, who are allowed to vote, would support the Catalan independence ?

There are some who will vote for the independence but the majority will not support the referendum, plus Moroccans do not participate often to «normal» elections. They will be less enthusiastic about taking part of the referendum because it does not really interest them.

Catalan parties had tried in the past to convince the Moroccan community in Catalonia to vote for independence ...

I feel that Moroccans are not interested in the referendum of October the 1st or in independence. This does not mean that some members of the Moroccan community do not have a particular interest in it, but they remain a minority.

Will the support given by Catalan parties to the «Hirak» popular movement affect their votes regarding the referendum ?

Undoubtedly this is a topic that will weigh heavily. That is precisely why I said that some Moroccans are in favor of the Catalan independence. There are political parties in the region that are instrumentalizing this issue, such as the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy , an ally of Podemos, ed.). It is the formation that most strongly supports the «Hirak».

What if Catalonia gains its independence ?

Given the current context and the very high level of confrontation between Catalonia and Spain, the referendum will not be organized. But if the consultation takes place with a «yes» victory, it will not be immediately implemented, for the simple reason that it must be recognized beforehand by the European Union and the international community; which Spain will never allow. And I do not think that this would have immediate consequences on Moroccans living in Catalonia.

Do you have faith in the future of Catalonia?

Certainly. Catalonia is and will remain the economic engine of Spain. Now the challenge for Catalonia is to have a new tax system. After several years of solidarity with other regions in Spain, Catalans are demanding a new tax system enabling them to progress socially and economically.

I voted in the Catalan Parliament for the New Statute of Catalonia (September 30, 2005), which never claimed independence. But once in power, the Popular Party was careful to eliminate all important issues including funding. I blame the PP for letting things get out of control. The PP should have given priority to dialogue and granted the Catalans the tax system they deserve.

According to you, can a political solution work ?

A political solution is the only way to put an end to this situation which does not benefit either Spain nor Catalonia. Moreover, I do not agree with convening an illegal and unilateral referendum ..

Will opposing the referendum benefit Morocco in some sort ?

I am convinced that Morocco wishes to see the current context, that is to say, a Catalonia within Spain, and therefore maintain good relations with each other.

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