Murder of Moroccan Jewish couple ‘not anti-Semitic’

Theft is thought to be the main motive, however some have urged Moroccan police to examine alternative motives for the crime due to the couple's religion and the uncommon use of mutilation.

July 9, 2016 23:11
2 minute read.

Sam Toledano and Vicky Chetrit, the Jewish couple murdered in Morocco. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Moroccan Jewish leaders are refuting claims that the recent murder of a Jewish couple in Casablanca may have been racially motivated.

The News site Diaspora Saharaui, which is critical of the government of Morocco over its occupation of Western Sahara, questioned the police version that the killing was a crime motivated by greed.

But Rabbi Levi Banon, the Chabad emissary in Casablanca, told The Jerusalem Post that the murder “was not racially motivated at all,” and that such claims are “far from the fact.”

Sam Toledano and Vicky Chetrit, a couple based in Casablanca, were killed July 3. Moroccan police arrested a gardener employee for allegedly killing them and then cutting up their bodies.

He decapitated the couple and disposed of their body parts in various places in Casablanca to steal their jewelry, according to the version provided by police to the Moroccan daily Le360.

Police arrived at the couple’s home after members of their community reported their disappearance, and detectives used ultra-violet lamps that showed traces of blood at their home, which was wiped clean of other evidence.

“Moroccan authorities tried to present the crime as motivated by greed, but a simple thief would not have mutilated the bodies and dispersed their parts across the city, said Diaspora Saharaui, citing the rarity of cases involving mutilation in Morocco.

Noting the couple’s “high profile” within the Jewish community, the site urged Moroccan police to examine alternative motives for the crimes.

Banon said the slain pair was by no means a high-profile couple, but rather “a regular, quiet, discreet couple running a modest quiet life,” and that the murder was an “isolated case of robbery.”

Jacky Kadosh, president of the Jewish community of Marrakesh-Essaouira, echoed this description, telling the Post the couple was “friendly, nice and quiet.” He accused those claiming the attack was racially-motivated of trying to destroy Morocco.

“It’s 100 percent not,” he told the Post, pointing out that similar crimes had in the past been perpetrated against Arab couples too, and that it wasn’t a crime reserved for the Jewish community.

“It’s for sure not terror,” Kadosh asserted. “If [the murderer] wanted to commit a terror attack, he would have done something much bigger and more organized. He just knew his boss had enough money, and that’s it.”

Meanwhile, Jewish writer Nicole Elgrissy emphasized that relations are good between Morocco’s Muslim and Jewish communities, and that the murder was a shock to the entire neighborhood.

“We don’t believe in any shape or form that it was an anti-Semitic attack, but because we are so few in numbers, 3,000, when two people die in your community it’s like losing a high percentage of your community,” Elgrissy said, adding that she alone received hundreds of messages of condolences over the death of Toledano and Chetrit.

Elgrissy also praised the swift response of the police, as did the president of the Jewish community in Morocco, Serge Berdugo, who thanked the local authorities for their efficient work in running the investigation and helping the family.

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