“You are Jihad, you are Sharia, you are a social setback, a failure of the Spanish educational system,” Vox spokesman Carlos Verdejo snapped in one of his usual outbursts of anger in the Ceuta Assembly to Fatima. Hamed (Ceuta, 1978), spokesman for the Movement for Dignity and Citizenship (MDyC) party. “My Jihad is to fight to find solutions, so that no one is criminalized … With that word you have meant something else, but you have lacked the courage to do so,” he replied to the representative of the “cowardly far-right”, who did nothing to propose. “deport” her to Morocco for proposing to declare a person non grata to Santiago Abascal.
“I understand certain losses of control, but jumping like alpha males to prevail in the herd is something incomprehensible and pathetic”, laments Hamed about the scenes that have been repeated in plenary session during the last year and a half until Vivas decided at the end of June , suspend parliamentary activity ‘sine die’. Almost two months after the border crisis instigated by Morocco, the local deputy repudiates the accusations of “fifth columnism” of the neighboring country that those of Abascal pour on part of the local society in allusion to the Muslim population, but warns that the PP is not a “benchmark” of care for intercultural coexistence and, like the PSOE, not of commitment to North African Spain.
How did you experience the migratory avalanche in mid-May?
Today social networks are anticipating events. First, some colleagues from Benzú warned about the entrance from Beliones showing the laxity with which the Moroccan police acted. Then came the massive entrance through the Tarajal that the authorities of the neighboring country allowed. The first reaction was skepticism, you do not think that suddenly twelve thousand people enter the city without any type of control, then you try to react by thinking about how you can stop and try to contribute by putting yourself at the service of the authorities. Once it has been paralyzed, you try to see how these people, many minors, can be cared for and begin to see the solution for them to return to their homes, because they have arrived deceived.
Do you have a more or less clear idea of what Morocco wanted?
I don’t know what I was looking for, but I do know that the harmed, in addition to the Ceuta, are these people who, fleeing poverty and a lack of future, have been looking for a solution that does not exist. That is why we must all seek the solution for them to return to their country.
Has the neighboring country’s biggest victory been that a party like Vox fuels its theory that a part of the Ceuta militates in its annexationist theses?
It did not take an avalanche for the extreme right to say that there are traitors in Ceuta. It is their speech, for them a ‘Moroccanization’ is taking place and they would be delighted to close the city again from the Pit and that Muslims would have to spend the night in the Outer Field. They have a distorted view of our history, which for them begins with the arrival of the Portuguese. At that time there was already a Muslim, Visigothic, Phoenician and even prehistoric Ceuta, but Vox stayed behind in the Portuguese conquest, which annihilated the existing Muslim, Jewish, Venetian, Catalan population … I don’t see pro-Moroccan ideas among the Ceuta: we are Spanish, the religion is not a fact that influences nationality.
Are you afraid that the extreme polarization that exists in the plenary sessions will be transferred to the streets?
Ceutí society goes beyond the nonsense that the extreme right says. She is worried about making ends meet, about finding a home or a job for her daughter that will allow her to become independent and create her own life, about guaranteeing the future of her family … There, the religion of each one has no influence because we all want the best for ours.
By crossing out part of the Ceuta as “pro-Moroccan” and “fifth columnists”, do you think that Vox is making a local electoral calculation or for the other side of the Strait?
The ‘promarrroquíes’ thing came with the May 19 meeting of Abascal, the king of the mamandurrias, who badly advised came to our city and opened the spigot of another cylinder. From racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, machismo and denialism, he started to cross out half of the local population as a traitor without objective data, just because the Templar knight who presides over his party in Ceuta [Juan Sergio Redondo] Spanish only considers the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman. The others must be expelled, as was done with the Jews or the Mudejars, or deported, as they now want to do with me. They pretend to be the quintessence of the Spanish on retrograde values to promote their ‘caudillo’ at the state level as a defender of that one, great and free Spain that tries to break the constitutional.
But in the autonomous city Vox got a third of the votes in the last generals….
Radicalization is not good in any society, less in one like Ceuta, where there are several communities that cannot be seen in that single image that the extreme right wants to give. Here there are also groups of intolerant people who can make the wave, but they are or I want to think that they are a minority. Vox imputes radicalism to others believing that it will give them more votes, but extremisms are not followed by societies, people are worried about their day to day.
How do you interpret the electoral success of Vox in Ceuta and the speed with which it achieved it?
Vox was presented as an alternative to almost 20 years of absolute power of the PP and Vivas. Many right-wing voters chose to support them tired of the vices that so many years of power create and even a part of the PP backed them to try to overthrow their leader. It is a borrowed electorate and I don’t think it is racist or Islamophobic. The PP has lost it and will have to think about how to recover it.
Do you believe Vox’s amendment to your speech, that as you clarify now there are not only “pro-Moroccans” among Muslims and that not all Muslims are?
His is a Francoist reading of life: if you abide by what I impose on you, you are the ‘good morito’, but if you rise up against exploitation, xenophobia or Islamophobia, you are a ‘pro-Moroccan’. It is the fascist vision, either you are with me or you are against me.
Fascism is fought with words and deeds
The president of the City suspended political activity in the Assembly last week. You were not in favor of doing it and there are those who see in your party and Vox a ‘clamp’.
Fascism is fought with words and deeds. If the Plenary is the sovereignty of the Ceuta, provocations, insults and attacks on other parties cannot be allowed to cause its closure and the problems of the people cannot be solved. Perhaps the most benefited is the PP and those who now support it, the PSOE, who stop accounting for their actions.
Is there a way to stop the provocations of Vox in the Assembly? Don’t you think that your spokesperson seeks to tighten the rope to the maximum to be expelled from the Chamber?
The PP made a regulation to its measure and sloppy, but Vivas has never applied it. This is not the first legislature in which there are problems in the interventions. Not having cut them radically at the time has allowed the extreme right to carry out its current actions. There are calls for order, the suspension of the Plenary and its resumption without the presence of those who have disturbed it. If they had been applied from the beginning, these levels would not have been reached.
Do you understand the deputies of different parties who have lost control during the plenary sessions due to the invectives of Verdejo and Redondo?
I can understand certain losses of control, but there are others that I neither understand nor share. It is incomprehensible that in the place where the word should reign, they want to impose their fist. Jumping like alpha males to prevail in the herd is incomprehensible and pathetic.
You have branded the Vox spokesperson as fascist, racist, short and other niceties, but beyond the verbal you have maintained your composure during your debates with Verdejo.
These names describe the reality of these individuals, which are defined through the words they spit in plenary sessions. I was brought up to be courteous, even with those who want to ‘deport me’ or consider me ‘the greatest failure of the Spanish educational system’ because I am free to dress however I want, profess the religion I have chosen and tell them the truths to their faces. That is the problem with these individuals, that you are either like them or you are not.
How do you perceive that the Muslim community and the rest of Ceuta are digesting the Vox attacks?
With boredom. Not only just voters, who believed they were going to remove Vivas and ended up ruling with him and his chiringuitos for more than a year. So do the others: you cannot live constantly in conflict, in permanent attack … Ceuta is a very diverse city with many problems, especially at risk of poverty. Our problems go back to an economic crisis of decades that the PP and the PSOE have not been able to redirect from Madrid and that has worsened with the pandemic, the closure of the border … The Ceuta do not get up thinking if there is a pro-Moroccan Ceuta, but how to fill your family’s plates. However, when a mamandurrias raider comes to insult you for the second time in a week it is logical that people jump out, protest and say that we have come this far.
Do you think there is a possibility that a ‘Muslim Vox’ will appear in Ceuta, a party that also tries to take advantage of the discontent with Vox from populism and radicalization?
No, it would be an absolute contradiction, Vox and Muslim. I don’t think there is such a possibility of creating a far-right party, it already exists and it is called Vox.
Coexistence in Ceuta can be greatly improved
You have also sometimes criticized the “coexistence” in Ceuta.
Coexistence in this city can be greatly improved. We must continue deepening in the mutual knowledge because it will be easier to live together. The PP is not a benchmark for coexistence: it has created a Ceuta of the four cultures, but it has treated them differently. Only the knowledge of each other allows us to deepen in the coexistence, to know about the rites of our neighbors, makes us understand them better. Education is essential for this, but Vox will not stop seeing ‘Moroccanization’ in any corner as long as we are not all like them. They are short because they are unable to see beyond their blinders.
Are you in favor of ending the double border regime in Schengen and requiring a visa to enter Ceuta from all Moroccans, including those from the neighboring province?
Now they tell us about an “urgent” state plan to give the same services to the Ceuta as the rest of the Spanish, which only shows the failure of the Spanish governments of the PP and the PSOE. His commitment to Ceuta and Melilla does not exist. We all know where we are after 40 years of imperfect bipartisanship. A year ago to the PSOE and the merchants the abolition of the special regime of the Schengen Agreement seemed a mistake. It will be necessary to study, at least with arguments, what interests us, because the Government intends to remove the exceptionality, but guarantee “agility in the cross-border transit of people for family, work or tourism reasons.” Isn’t it another exception?
And in the Customs Union?
The local government proposal says yes but no. Ceuta cannot do without its Economic and Fiscal Regime, it is the basis of our economic framework. We have been thinking about what to do about it for 20 years and now you want to make the decision in a few hours. In 1999, an ESECA study, paid for by the Economic and Social Council of Ceuta, concluded that membership would not solve the structural problems that our economy suffers from. The same is happening now, the solution will be to solve those problems, something that basically happens by finding a new development model based on the digital society and that fundamentally enhances the green economy.