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.
Contributors

"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."
 

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It is indeed sad. I am from

It is indeed sad. I am from Ghana, living in France. How can an African nation be treating africans this way?
What can it profit us if we continue like this? Is it a sin to be black? Well, I have discovered that even Aqmi has started treating the blacks in theirbmidst this way! I intended visiting a moroccan friend, but I think I will have to think twice.
Someone will say it is just a minority doing this, what is the majority doing on it then?

I'm an American who lived in

I'm an American who lived in Morocco for over 5 years. My husband is Moroccan, and we have debates about this often. I have seen racism again and again in Morocco, both against black Moroccans as well as sub-Saharan African immigrants. Yet he says that I don't get it and it's not all bad, that Morocco has transcended racism, and that jokes are done in fun and games.

I don't know what to think about it, to be honest. I saw myself-- as a white American woman-- treated like royalty. The hospitality was overwhelming. Sure, harassment was bad at times, but in general, people went out of their way to welcome me.

However, I had several black American friends, and they had a very, very, VERY different experience. One of them was told, point blank, that she could not have her hair worn in an afro or else she'd be fired. I don't even know what to think of that.

In the south, I saw people look at my hands, say they were beautiful because they are white, and talk about how ugly their dark skin is. It was heartbreaking. When I told a man in town I'd marry a man who I loved and who treated me right, no matter the race, he and a few other men in town kept making fun of me and trying to "set me up" with black men-- as a joke. Because it was so "weird" that a white woman would think about being with a black man.

On one hand, I know Morocco hasn't had a civil rights' movement. I look at my own country's history and feel that black Moroccans or immigrants today probably had it better than black Americans did 50 or 60 years ago, let alone 150 years ago.

I believe my husband, and several other city-born educated Moroccans who say that when they joke with their black friends-- even calling them "slave,"-- the same ones make jokes about their intellect, their family, their background, a funny scar, a physical defect, a personality trait-- something else that probably is shameful to joke about. It's all "fun and games." Maybe in that particular relationship it's true.

But Morocco DOES have a long way to come in combating racism.

I am African American and I

I am African American and I had an amazing time in Morocco. Its been 13 years since visiting but 99% of everyone I met was very hospitable. I travelled to all of the imperial cities and even visited Chefchaouen. Wish I could genuinely say the same about most of the Moroccans that I have met here in the US.

I am living almost the same

I am living almost the same situation in lebanon, not really the same, but they use to affect each nation a task, and the pakistanis women, or indian ones are all domestics, their passport is kept by the owners, and it is all normal to them. I think racism could never end, once people start to understand the color of the skin doesn't turn them worst, they think it make them better, or different.
I am very impressed some american actually read France24, I thought it was just a fatuous intention to spread the french culture that will interest nobody, but france24 is a quite good news media until now.

I commend you

Your lack of prejudice is commendable. I am a black american and being 50 yrs of age remember more than I care to about racism in america. However I dare not forget. I will pray for this country and the prejudice its going through. It is never funny to disrespect anyone no matter how funny you think it is nor the context it's being used in. Racism is racism, it's all ugly and should never be tolerated jokingly or not. God bless you.

Iam not so sure about the

Iam not so sure about the airport incident as airport employees are most of the time polite and helpful especially towards women . Yes i agre that there are some racist people in morocco , but lets not forget that Moroccans can also be black . visit Marrakesh and you will realise that half the population is black . so being targeted for colour only seems a bit far fetched .

I find it very telling that

I find it very telling that this racist output was produced in FRENCH. We have no indigenous brand of French writing, we just mimic France. That garbage is an example of diligent mimicry, possible only through keen awareness of the dark recesses of the old masters psyche. Has anyone found likewise resemblances in the Arabic language media where people are not trying to mimic France???

take a look at the second

take a look at the second picture, it's in plain arabic.

this came in the first social study

As Ibn Khaldun said in his social study: The colonized wants to be as his colonizer. I hope Morocco one day returns to its lost glory.

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