Isla Perejil, in Castilian (Parsley Island, Arabic: Leila ("night") is a small, rocky island in the Mediterranean Sea, 200 meters off the coast of Morocco, 5 kilometers from Ceuta.
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Several Spanish historical documents and testimonies evidence that the Tora or Leila island is a Moroccan land which has for long been the object of colonial covetousness.
In 1746, King Ferdinand VI gave instructions to create a map of the islet but that the mission entrusted with the undertaking found out that the islet was not a Spanish land.
In 1751, the governor of Sebta (Ceuta) attempted in vain to take possession of the islet, as his attempts were foiled by the combative Anjra tribes, the historian said.
The British government repeatedly requested from Sultan Moulay Slimane in 1799, 1801, 1802, 1803 and 1804 an authorization to build over the islet the residence of the British General Consul, settled then in Tangier. All these requests were turned down.
In 1808, the King of Spain dispatched a squadron to help Morocco liberate the islet after it had been occupied by the British governor of Gibraltar.
After the islet was liberated in 1813, it was the object of requests in 1814 and in 1831 on the part of Great Britain which wanted to set up there a coal storehouse to supply its boats sailing in the Mediterranean. Similar requests were again made to Morocco by the United states in 1835 and by Great Britain in 1841.
During Moroccan-Spanish negotiations in 1860, Spanish military, led by General O'Donnel, wanted to extend the borders of Sebta to the islet, but Morocco rejected the proposal.
On November 13, 1887, the Spanish ministry of public works erected a small enclosure on the islet and planted the Spanish flag. The same day, the Sultan's delegate dispatched few soldiers aboard a small boat and the enclosure was destroyed and the flag handed to Spain's general consul.
Geographer Cala Galiano, head of the hydrographic department at the Spanish navy ministry, published on November 22, 1887 in the paper "Epoca" an article evidencing that the Leila islet was indeed Moroccan land. On December 3 of the same year, the Spanish Prime minister, Moret, made an unambiguous statement at the House of Representatives, that there was no doubt the islet was Moroccan. He reiterated the same statement before the upper house.
The paper El Correo noted in its release dated January 1888, that it became crystal clear that the islet was Moroccan and that there was no document at the (Spanish) foreign ministry nor at the consulate of Spain in Tangier evidencing the contrary. The islet is well and truly Moroccan and sentry guards were deployed there few days ago, the paper wrote.
Spain which has never occupied the Leila islet had amazed everybody on February 26, 1986 when it disclosed a draft bill on the autonomy of Sebta extending the city borders to the islets of Badis and Leila. Morocco protested the draft and conveyed the protest to Spain's embassy in Morocco on January 5, 1987.