Rabat – The Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies released the findings of its 2019-2020 Arab Opinion Index, showing that 88% of Moroccans reject diplomatic recognition of Israel.
The report published by the Doha Institute shared statistics based on interviews with 28,288 individual respondents from 13 Arab countries, including Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, and Mauritania.
Only 4% of the Moroccan respondents said they would support diplomatic recognition of Israel by their country, while 8% declined to answer. In Algeria 99% said they would oppose, while only 1% declined to answer.
Interviews with people from Saudi Arabia show that 6% would support diplomatic recognition of Israel, while 29% declined to answer.
Respondents from the Maghreb or North Africa showed the strongest rate of opposition to diplomatic recognition of Israel, with 93%.
In the Mashreq region, 92% said they would oppose and 6% would support. In the Gulf, 82% said they would oppose, while 7% would support.
The majority of Moroccans surveyed also believe the Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs. The index shows that 70% of Moroccans believe Palestine constitutes a concern for all Arabs and not the Palestinians alone.
Approximately 20% of the respondents believe the Palestinian cause concerns Palestinians solely, while 8% align with neither of the two positions. Only 3% in Morocco declined to answer the question.
The majority of surveyed Arabs shared the same sentiments with Moroccans regarding Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Approximately 94% of Algerians believe the Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs and not the Palestinian people alone, while only 3% believe it concerns Palestinians solely.
In Tunisia, 89% believe the Palestinian cause concerns all Arabs, and 88% of Qataris agree.
Morocco is among the Arab countries that have repeatedly expressed support for the Palestinian cause. The North African country stands for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Hundreds of Moroccan activists rallied recently in Rabat to oppose other Arab states’ normalization with Israel. The rally came after the UAE and Bahrain signed a “peace” treaty with Israel.
The Moroccan government also rejected rumors claiming the country would normalize Morocco-Israel ties.
In August, Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani “affirmed the position of Morocco, the King, the government and the people,” a statement from the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) said.
Supporting popular protests
Beyond presenting opinions on Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the index also shows major support from the surveyed Moroccans regarding hirak, or popular movements, in Algeria and Sudan.
Around 49% of Moroccans said they have shown support for the popular protests in Sudan, while 10% said they have opposed the protests. Approximately 41% of Moroccans declined to answer.
Sixty-six percent of Moroccans also support the protests in Algeria, with 12% opposing. Around 22% of those surveyed declined to answer.
Most of the respondents indicated that their top priorities are economic in nature, mirroring a central concern of many protesters.
Most of the surveyed people cited related challenges facing their countries such as unemployment, high prices, poor economic conditions, and poverty.
Unemployment is undeniably a significant challenge in Morocco. The rate of unemployment reached 12.3% in the second quarter of 2020, from April to June.
The number is the highest recorded since 2001. Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, Morocco’s unemployment rate ranged between 9% and 10%, already a serious cause for concern among many Moroccans.
Poverty and economic issues in Algeria and Sudan were also major motives for citizens to ask for reforms that would guarantee equal opportunities.
According to Trading Economics, the unemployment rate in Algeria stood at 11.40% in the second quarter of 2019.
The same source shows that the unemployment rate in Sudan increased to 13% in 2019.
Religion & politics
Regarding religion, 26% of Moroccans strongly agree that no religious authority “is entitled to declare followers of other religions infidels.”
Around 38% of respondents agree, while 14% disagree. Approximately 7% strongly disagree, while 15% declined to answer.
The survey shows that most respondents do not discriminate on the basis of “religiosity, or between religious and non-religious individuals when conducting their social, political and economic/business interactions.”
Thirty-three percent of Moroccans also strongly agree that the government has no “right to use religion to win support for its policies,” while 36% agree.
Approximately 14% of Moroccans disagree, while only 4% strongly disagree. Around 13% declined to answer the question.
The index also shows different answers when interviewers asked Arabs to select which statement on the nature of extremist groups would best represent their views, using ISIL as an example.
The index shows that 40% of Moroccans believe ISIL is the religious “extremism and fanaticism of the Middle East,” while 26% believe ISIL is the product of policies of Arab regimes.
About 12% declined to answer, while 21% agreed with neither of the above two statements.
In Tunisia, 44% of people believe ISIL is the product of policies of Arab regimes, while 31% believe ISIL “is the religious extremism and fanaticism of the Middle East.”
A majority of all Arab respondents, factoring in Moroccans’ responses, feel that resolving Israel’s