Being black in Morocco: 'I get called a slave'

The latest cover of Maroc Hebdo magazine—seen as racist by some, defended by others—has launched a national debate on the struggles faced by sub-Saharan Africans living in Morocco.
“The Black Peril.” That's the controversial headline that the Moroccan weekly ran on its cover last week to tease to an article about the rise in the number of immigrants from sub-Saharan African, many of whom come to Morocco in the hopes of making it to Europe. Many are turned back and end up staying in Morocco, where they live in poverty. Some end up taking part in illegal activities to make a living. According to Morocco’s Interior ministry, there are about 10,000 illegal immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa living in the country. Human rights organisations estimate this number higher as closer to 15,000.
Headline: "The Black Peril."
Moroccan authorities are taking an increasingly strict approach to immigration from sub-Saharan Africa. Immigrants without residency permits are quickly expelled. The European Union’s ambassador to Morocco, Eneko Landaburu, recently called the treatment of these immigrants “problematic”, a sentiment echoed by the Moroccan Human Rights Organisation. Meanwhile, the Moroccan labour minister, Abdelouahed Souhail, accused sub-Saharan African immigrants of being in part responsible for the country’s employment crisis.
The International Organisation for Migration recently launched a campaign to raise 620,000 euros to help send some 1,000 illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa home.

"Young Moroccans have physically assaulted me on several occasions, for no reason"

Joseph (not his real name) is from Guinea. He lives in Casablanca, where he studies computing at a local university. He is a legal resident.
I came here to study computing thanks to a grant from my country. I’ve been here for four years, and for four years I’ve been a victim of racism. It happens all the time, everywhere.
The most awful incident took place at the airport. I was with my aunt, who was heading back to Guinea and had a lot of luggage. Other passengers from sub-Saharan countries, seeing her struggle to carry it, came to help her get it onto the plane, but an airline employee stopped them, saying she had to deal with it on her own because she was black. I replied in Arabic, and he replied by hitting me in the head. I told him I was going to file a complaint, and he said, sarcastically: “That’s right, go complain to the king!” I never did file a complaint.
Often, when I’m just walking down the street, people will call me a “dirty black man” or call me a slave. Young Moroccans have physically assaulted me on several occasions, for no reason, and passers-by who saw this didn’t lift a finger to help me. All my friends are black and they have all had similar experiences. Even the girls get insulted in the street. To avoid getting hurt, I now try to ignore the insults. But if someone starts to hit me, what can I do? I have to defend myself...
In two years, I’ll be done with my studies, and I certainly don’t intend to stay in Morocco to look for work. Even if someone were to offer me a job here, I would rather go home to Guinea.
In 2005, a regional magazine published in the country's north had already created a controversy by dedicating an issue to "the black crickets invading Morocco's north."


I am living in Morocco. The

I am living in Morocco. The lack of love, understanding and tolerance between Moroccans is disturbing. They seem like perrenially frustrated children, no matter the age. Shouting matches break out between Moroccan co-workers in staff meetings. Students can't talk to each other, only ridicule and blame. The way foreigners are treated at my work is really worth noting, as well. My Moroccans collegue seem to have a complex about keeping out any new ideas that threaten their small-mindedness and lack of motivation. Actually the Moroccans I have met act like slaves, never taking any joy or pride in their work. What kind of values are taught in the families? Where is the tolerance? There's so much negativity, bitterness, blame, obvious hatred and jealousy practiced amongst the Moroccan population I am embarrassed to say I am not surprised at the headlines nor at the abuse others speak of in their responses. This is the unhappiest, most closed-minded and negative population I have lived within in almost 20 years as an expat living abroad. When my contract is up I leave and will do my best to erase this unhappy people from my memory.

Reply to comment | The Observers

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There is no difference in

There is no difference in Islam concerning races and some Moroccans are racists, I witnessed it first hand as Moroccan woman. and it is a shame. Allah does not love those who transgress and oppress.


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Reply to comment | The Observers

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Hey bro , i'm moroccan , you should know that not all moroccans are the same , you will find bad people and good people everywhere , in morocco we have also black people in the south , it's not a racism , it's a big problem , i live in the north , tanger , some of your people have the same experience , but there is a reason for that , some of your people can't find job here , then they can do anything...for example they attack women , they stole phones ...not all of you but some of your people do that , that's why u will live this experience , and please do not say that there is no reasons , ...there is many reasoons for that , ...another reason...some black people sell stolen phones...broken devices...a lot of bad things , ..

Everything you described as

Everything you described as "you people" poor moroccans are also doing! My friend was robbed by moroccans just a few days ago! Do not tell me moroccans are racist because black immigrants do bad things. That's a dumb attitude to have. Many moroccans in London sell drugs and do illegal things but black people in London are not calling them disgusting names. THERE IS NO REASON TO BE RACIST SO DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES FOR YOUR PEOPLE! RACIST MUSLIMS SHOULD BE ASHAMED! People who make excuses are part of the problem. Allah says we should live as travellers yet people like to behave as if they created the soil they live on.

I truly share your opinion

Hi, first I am truly sharing your opinion and second I would like to tell you that the problem of Moroccans is education the country is listed as one of the top illiterate stats. I am Moroccan living in London and I would like to apologize for some peoples' ignorance we are all brothers and humans. I solanlly condemn any act of racism and please don't generalise when you say Moroccans that you won't fall in stereotyping as well.

Reply to comment | The FRANCE 24 Observers

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