A pro-LGBTQ+ Holocaust memorial in the making near Marrakech

Ait Faska will be home to North Africa’s first Holocaust memorial. In the small village near Marrakech, the project in the making will include an LGBTQ+ corner to pay tribute to gay Jews who died in the European concentration camps.

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The Holocaust memorial in Ait Faska, near Marrakech. / Ph. PixelHelper- Facebook

A Holocaust memorial to honor the murdered Jews of Europe is under construction in Morocco. In the Haouz region, only 26 kilometers away from Marrakech, a German non-governmental organization has been working on this project since September 2018.

This what PixelHelper's founder Oliver Bienkowski, who is also managing the memorial, told Yabiladi, Friday, after posting photos of the project on the association’s website. Located precisely in Ait Faska, a small village near Ait Ourir, the memorial is about too many things at once.

According to Bienkowski, who has been living in Morocco since 2014, the project aims at «showing Moroccans, schoolchildren and Jews from Israel the horror of the Holocaust», through a museum and several other facilities. The property also includes stelae, mimicking the ones in Germany’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

A Holocaust memorial with LGBTQ+ monuments

It is not everything, as this Ait Faska project, which is expected to be North Africa’s first Holocaust memorial, is also meant to «honor the LGBTQ+» community. To the German activist, part of this memorial includes «rainbow-colored blocks to honor the murdered gay Jews in the European concentration camps».

The LGBTQ+ monuments in the Ait Faska Holocaust memorial. / Ph. PixelHelper- FacebookThe LGBTQ+ monuments in the Ait Faska Holocaust memorial. / Ph. PixelHelper- Facebook

Entirely financed by PixlerHelper and a private limited company based in Morocco that bears the same name, PixlerHelper International SARL, the project is expected to have 10,000 stone blocks and welcome Muslim and Jewish visitors soon.

As for the rainbow part, Bienkowski explains that the LGBTQ+ part of the memorial will «be finished by Hanukkah» (a Jewish holiday that begins in December 22).

To the activist, «it is important to have a Holocaust memorial» in North Africa and in Morocco in particular to help people «imagine» the atrocities Jews faced. He also stressed that, in addition to that, his project has «an educational side to it» too. «People can come visit theme rooms, live shows, and other corners of the property» that portray «the cruelty of concentration camps».

Very enthusiastic about the project, Bienkowski assured Yabiladi that he received the necessary authorizations to build the Holocaust memorial and he is even planning to expand it. But is there a point in having a Holocaust memorial in a small village near Marrakech ?

The Ait Faska Holocaust memorial. / Ph. PixelHelper-FacebookThe Ait Faska Holocaust memorial. / Ph. PixelHelper-Facebook

While Bienkowski claims that it is «primordial» to have a Holocaust memorial in the Kingdom, it is worth noting that there were no concentration camps in Morocco. Moreover, Moroccan Jews who lived in the country were protected by King Mohammed V during the Holocaust.

As for the LGBTQ+ part of the memorial, Morocco remains one of the countries that criminalizes homosexuality.

In an attempt to know more about the authorizations handed to this memorial, Yabiladi contacted the local authorities in Ait Faska. The latter refused to comment on the project, stressing that they have nothing to say about it.  

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