Slaying of Jewish merchant shocks Muslim Morocco's Small Jewish Community


Copyright 2003 Associated Press  
Associated Press Worldstream

September 11, 2003 Thursday

Two masked men killed a Jewish wood merchant Thursday at point blank range, the first time in memory that a Jewish citizen of this Muslim kingdom in North Africa has been gunned down, the official MAP news agency said.

The motive for the killing of 55-year-old Albert Rebibo was not known.

However, it came as a blow to Jewish leaders here.
Morocco's small but ancient Jewish community - some 3,500 members - was targeted in five nearly simultaneous suicide bombings on May 16 that killed 33 bystanders and a dozen bombers. No Jews were killed in the attacks. However, a Jewish social club, a restaurant run by a Jew and a Jewish cemetery were among the targets.

"The Moroccan Jewish community has been hit on this anniversary date of Sept. 11," said Serge Berdugo, head of the Council of Israelite Communities of
Morocco. He was referring to Thursday's second anniversary of the terror attacks in the United States.

"I hope our community will have the needed wherewithal to overcome this challenge," Berdugo said.

Police were searching for the two masked men who fired with a pistol at Rebibo as he was closing his shop about midday. The men were then surrounded by a crowd, but dispersed the gathering with shots in the air, police said. The suspects were then reported to have stolen a car to flee via the highway.

Morocco and Israel have begun a process of normalization, marked by the Sept. 2 visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.