Dutch-Moroccan activists have lobbied for Nasser Zefzafi’s nomination to the Sakharov Prize

Moroccan-Dutch nationals have launched a campaign since January to secure the nomination of Nasser Zefzafi to the Sakharov price. The Hirak figure has made it to the final list, Tuesday, which includes only three names.

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A rally to support Hirak activists in the Netherlands./Ph. DR

In the Netherlands, Moroccan-Dutch nationals lobbied for the nomination of Hirak figure Nasser Zefzafi to the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Zefzafi was able to be among the three final nominees to compete for the award, after a vote that took place Tuesday, 9th of October, at the European Parliament.

Now that the convicted activist is so close to winning the prestigious award, it is important to know how it all started. According to Dutch online newspaper NRC.NL, the idea of enabling Nasser Zefzafi to win one of the Sakharov Prize, was born in the Netherlands.

Lobbying for Zefzafi

Hossnia, a 30-year-old Moroccan-Dutch activist, was the one behind Zefzafi’s nomination. Since January, the woman living in the Netherlands has been trying to convince her fellow activists to help her make her dream come true.

NRC recalls that Hossnia «brought eight Moroccan-Dutch social activists», operating in Rotterdam to join her campaign. Fortunately, one of the people she managed to convince knew Dutch MEP Kati Piri.

The latter tried in vain to bring the Hirak crisis to the EU parliament but she couldn’t, says the same source. According to the MEP France and Spain are against the idea of discussing the Hirak movement at the Parliament. For the two countries, maintaining trade agreements and cooperation with Rabat is a priority should be preserved.

In Brussels, Piri together with Hossnia and her eight-membered group «Werkgroep Sacharov Nasser», focused on their objective. The MEP organized a public meeting in the European Parliament and collaborated with the group in the Netherlands. «If you gather people, I will arrange for the buses to get you all to Brussels», Piri told NRC.

Indeed, thousands of people made it to the European capital where a huge Hirak meeting was held. Kati Piri managed to convince other MEPs and 42 votes were granted to Nasser Zefzafi, allowing him to be one of the figures competing for the price.

Hirak, an topic that affects Dutch-Moroccan diplomatic relations

For Piri and her Dutch group, it was a victory that made Moroccan-Dutch nationals feel that they «are heard», wrote NRC. «Riffian people and politicians proved that they are independent and free to really stand for human rights», the MEP told the same source.

But while, Moroccan-Dutch activists are happy about the results of their campaign, relations between the Netherlands and Rabat are going through a rough period because of Hirak.

Morocco, through his Foreign Minister, made it clear on several occasions that it is not willing to accept «being lectured by another country», referring to the Netherlands.

Morocco sees it as a way of interfering in its interior affairs, as explained by Nasser Bourita. «As we respect the decisions of the Dutch courts, they too must respect decisions made by the Moroccan judiciary», said Bourita, insisting that «during the Dutch foreign minister’s previous visit to Morocco [last April], I said at a press conference that the protests were a strictly internal issue».

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