Perejil Island

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For the armed conflict, see Perejil Island crisis

The Perejil Island (Spanish: Isla de Perejil, Berber: Tura) is a small, uninhabited rocky islet located in the South shore of the Strait of Gibraltar very close to Morocco. Its sovereignty is disputed between Spain and Morocco. It was the subject of an armed incident between the two countries in 2002.

Contents

Name

Spanish Isla de Perejil literally means "Parsley Island". Its original Berber name is Tura, meaning "empty".[1] Some Moroccan media refer to it mistakenly as Leila, Laila (ليلى) instead, which is a distorted pronunciation of the Spanish word "La isla". It is sometimes referred to in Arabic as "Jazirat al-Ma'danus" (جزيرة معدنوس), which is a translation of "Parsley Island". In Moroccan historical references it is only known as "Tura". In his speech to the Moroccan people commemorating the "Throne Day" on July 30, 2002, the king of Morocco used the name "Tura" exclusively, when he mentioned the armed incident with Spain over the island.[2]

Geography

The island lies 250 meters just off the coast of Morocco, 8 km from the Spanish city of Ceuta and 13.5 km from mainland Spain. The island is about 480 by 480 meters in size, with an area of 15 ha or 0.15 km². It reaches a maximum height of 74 meters.

History

The island was used by local Berbers for livestock activities but there is no evidence of a permanent Berber settlement there.[citation needed] In 1415, Portugal, along with the conquest of Ceuta, took possession of the nearby islet from the Marinid dynasty. In 1580, Portugal came under the sovereignty of the King of Spain. When that Iberian Union split in 1640, Ceuta remained under Spanish sovereignty.

The islet's sovereignty is disputed by Morocco and Spain. The vast majority of Spaniards and Moroccans had not heard of the islet until July 11, 2002, when a group of Moroccan soldiers set up base on the islet. The Moroccan government said that they set foot on the island in order to monitor illegal immigration, which was denied by the Spanish government since there had been little co-operation in the matter by that time (a repeated source of complaint from Spain). After protests from the Spanish government, led by José María Aznar, the soldiers were replaced by Moroccan navy cadets who then installed a fixed base on the island. This further angered the Spanish government and both countries restated their claims to the islet. Spain's objections were fully supported by almost all European Union member states, with the exception of France and Portugal (whose government issued a statement regretting the incident).[citation needed] Morocco's claims had official support from the Arab League, except for Algeria, which reinstated its recognition of Spanish sovereignty over the exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

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