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Moroccan intellectuals protest to demand the opening of the border with Algeria

Dozens of Moroccan intellectuals participated in a protest organised by the Union of Moroccan Writers on Sunday at the Zouj Bghal border crossing between Morocco and Algeria, demanding to "strengthen the ties of brotherhood and good neighbourliness between the two brotherly Algerian and Moroccan peoples," Anadolu news agency reported.

During the protest, Abdul Rahim Alam, the president of the union, a non-governmental organisation, stated that the union "foresees the construction of a new era and a comprehensive popular project with its fundamentals based on the strong, compassionate, humane and brotherly relationship between the Moroccan and Algerian peoples."

Alam told Anadolu that: "Today's protest is to make the voice of Moroccan intellectuals and writers heard, as they reject all rigid totalitarian thinking that dominates, with its in-depth, ready-made responses, and impedes any breakthrough or effort to overcome the imposed challenges and get over the artificial dilemmas that threaten the future of our region."

He added: "The intellectuals in Algeria have an approach similar to ours; because we hold together the concerns of our chared historical culture that wants to be free of any authoritarianism in order to enable our peoples to express their opinions freely, creatively and continuously, and to move freely between the two brotherly countries. These ethics are at the core of our cause; our union has always embraced and championed the values ​​of community and solidarity between our peoples. We seek to enhance our cultural project by spreading the values ​​of a modern, democratic, and integrated Maghreb community."

For his part, Mustafa Kechni, a writer at the union's Oujda branch in the far north-east of Morocco, told Anadolu that: "Through this protest, Moroccan intellectuals aim to express their opinions about the imbalances that exist when it comes to managing joint issues for the Moroccan and Algerian peoples, and to prevent the politicians' stances from being exclusive, where many situations proved that the latter's stances on settling the dispute were often wrong and lacked wisdom and foresight."

He pointed out that the protest is based on the union's intellectual, cultural and historical reference as the institution that emerged almost a half century ago along with the first generation of Maghreb intellectuals, as well as the union's cultural and ethical responsibility during the present moment to build on this momentum and interact positively for the future of the Moroccan and Algerian peoples.

Neither the Moroccan nor the Algerian authorities have commented yet on the protest.

The Moroccan-Algerian border has been closed since 1994, when the Algerian authorities reacted reciprocally to Rabat's decision to impose visas on Algerian travellers in the wake of a guerrilla attack on the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrakech.

Relations between Algiers and Rabat have been tense for decades because of the dispute over the Western Sahara region, with Algeria supporting the Polisario movement that is fighting for the independence of this region annexed by Morocco in 1975.

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