Former GroenLinks politician Mohamed Rabbae has died at the age of 81, the National Council of Moroccans reports to ANP news agency. He was in the House of Representatives for GroenLinks from 1994 to 2002 and was party leader in 1994 together with Ina Brouwer.
Rabbae has always devoted himself fully to the migrant community and spoke in the House on matters such as justice and education. He was also part of the committee of inquiry that investigated the controversial IRT affair. After his membership of parliament, Rabbae was an alderman in Leiden for two years and became chairman of the National Council of Moroccans.
“With the death of Mohamed Rabbae, the Netherlands loses an icon,” responds current GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver on Twitter† “He was an activist, politician, leader. A tireless fighter against racism and for equality. It is up to all of us to continue his fight for justice.”
Spokesperson for migrants
Rabbae was born in Morocco in 1941 and fled to the Netherlands in the mid-1960s because he feared he would end up in prison because of his struggle against the regime of King Hassan. Before he entered politics, as director of the Netherlands Center for Foreigners, he already gave a voice to the migrant community.
Also read this interview from 1994: Professional exile Mohammed Rabbae; I am a mediator, but not when it comes to principles
With his championing of Muslims in the Netherlands, he regularly clashed with the liberal wing within GroenLinks. When he was a duo party leader in 1994, he caused a stir during the campaign by in an interview with NRC Handelsblad to say to understand people who read the book The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
And after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, he called on comedians not to joke about Osama Bin Laden and terrorist organizations, because they could further fuel polarization between Muslims and native Dutch people. But that made him the target of ridicule.
In the subsequent 2002 elections, Rabbae was placed low on the electoral list and said he would remain “emotionally incapable of standing” in the House if he was not put in a running position by the party congress. That did not happen and he then left national politics.
Reports against Geert Wilders
With the National Council of Moroccans, Rabbae did in 2008 declaration against the movie fitness of PVV leader Geert Wilders. Former GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema called this an attempt at censorship and Rabbae subsequently canceled his membership of the party. Later, his National Council of Moroccans also filed a complaint because of Wilders’ ‘Less Moroccans’ statement, for which he was eventually found guilty of group insult.
Mohamed Rabbae suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2014, which left him unable to walk and read and severely damaged his memory. Party chairman Farid Azarkan of Denk calls Rabbae in a reaction on his death Tuesday, “a strong and social person who practiced politics with straight back.”