Morocco royal envoy Mustapha Sahel
Morocco royal envoy Mustapha Sahel Israel news photo: Benyamin Toubal

The King of Morocco sent a delegation to convey his royal condolences to a Jewish school in Toulouse where a rabbi and three young children were murdered. Former Ambassador Mustapha Sahel presented “royal condolences” on behalf of King Mohammed VI in a visit Sunday to Otzar HaTorah.

Serge Berdugo, secretary-general of the Board of Jewish Communities of Morocco and former minister, and Bidoud Abdellah, former minister accompanied the Consul General of Morocco in Toulouse, Abdellah Bidoud.

"The king wished to express his deepest condolences and deep sympathy after this unspeakable crime,” said Sahel during a brief ceremony in the synagogue, located inside the Otzar HaTorah high school and college.

"Hatred murdered French people of different origins and different religions,” Berdugo said. “The king wished to express his sorrow, deep sorrow and strongest condemnation of this despicable act.”

The delegation added that the monarch wished to pay special tribute to the Monsonego family, which has ties to Morocco. The great-uncle of Miriam -- the daughter of the school principal and one of those shot to death in the attack -- was the chief rabbi of the country, the delegates said.

Also present at the ceremony among the hundreds of attendees were many members of the Muslim community, as well as the Archbishop of Toulouse, Bishop Robert Le Gall.

Arie Bensemhoun, president of the Jewish community and local representative of the Toulouse Israelite Consistory, denounced a “monstrosity” that “skews the words of the prophet” and cited a “sort of suburban Islamofacism” for which some “ultra minority” is no less determined “to sow hatred and chaos.”

He called on the “representatives of the three religions of the book” who were present to “fight together against radical Islam.”

The move was a strong statement of support at a time when King Mohammed VI is facing a steep challenge against Islamic radicalism in his own nation. Last week an Israeli delegation was treated to massive display of dangerous hostility when a mob burned an Israeli flag and surrounded the Moroccan parliament building as it hosted a meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EUROMED) organization in Rabat. 

The same day, an elderly Jewish man was beaten to death in Fez by an unidentified assailant wielding a heavy hammer.

However, the Moroccan monarch has long been a friend to the Jews. Orthodox Rabbi Raphael Benchimol of the Manhattan Sephardic Congregation was honored with the Knight of the Order of the Throne from King Mohammed VI in New York just two weeks ago, and during last year's Arab Spring uprising that shook the region, Jewish leaders were assured their community would be safe.

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