Casablanca landlords try to ban renting to Africans
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“Renting apartments to Africans is strictly forbidden”. This message hangs in several building lobbies in Casablanca, Morocco. Some landlords have been enforcing this rule, even though it is completely illegal. Our Observer, a student from Ivory Coast, experienced this discrimination firsthand a few months ago.
Photo posted on Facebook and sent by one of our Observers in Casablanca.
“Renting apartments to Africans is strictly forbidden”. This message hangs in several building lobbies in Casablanca, Morocco. Some landlords have been enforcing this rule, even though it is completely illegal. Our Observer, a student from the Ivory Coast, experienced this discrimination firsthand a few months ago.
Several photos of these posters, written in both French and Arabic, have been circulating on social networks over the past few days. According to our Observers, the photos were taken in buildings in the residential Farah Essalam neighbourhood in the Oulfa area, where many students from sub-Saharan Africa live. Similar posters have also been reported in other parts of town.
While Morocco is located in northern Africa, many Moroccans don't consider themselves "Africans", a term they generally use to refer to sub-Saharan Africans.
“The building’s apartment owners ganged up on us”
Nafissa (not her real name) is studying science in Casablanca. She is from Ivory Coast.
In 2012, three of us students were renting an apartment in the Areeda residence in the Oulfa area. As Africans, we quickly became the target of threats from residents who didn’t want to have us as neighbours.
One day, when we came home from university, we came across this poster. At first, we didn’t know it was aimed at us, but then someone translated it for us. We were really shocked.
Poster photographed at the end of 2012 by Nafissa at the Areeda residence. “It is strictly prohibited to lease apartments to Africans in this building. Signed: all the apartment owners.”
After that, we got even more threats than before. Our apartment’s landlord did everything he could to help us, but under growing pressure from the other apartment owners, he had to order us to leave, which we refused. On January 1, 2013, the police came to force us to leave. We were taken down to the police station. My friend was slapped by an officer. We still don’t know what legal basis the police acted on.
I haven’t been back to our old building since, but my friends tell me that the poster is still there. I’d like to say it’s an isolated case, but my experience makes me think otherwise. From the first day at my new apartment, the residents have been asking the landlord to kick us out. But we’ve signed a lease, which the landlord has so far refused to terminate.
Discrimination against Africans has been firmly rooted here. Not all relationships with Moroccans are this confrontational, but life is definitely more unpleasant if you’re black. Personally, I’ve had stones thrown at me on the street several times, sometimes even fruit, depending on the person’s mood.
“Having one bad experience doesn’t justify this”
Mrs Benzekri is owns an apartment at the Areeda residence, from which Nafissa was kicked out.
I can personally confirm these types of posters are in two buildings including my own, but there are probably others. I think it’s scandalous, and I’ve made this known to the building’s management. These posters are absolutely illegal. The law does not permit such discrimination. I have had African students as renters, and they’ve been great.
Some of my friends and relatives, themselves landlords, have had bad experiences with their renters and thus draw conclusions about all Africans. One of them leased an apartment to two students, who quickly divided the rooms with partition walls - without permission - and rented out space to immigrants working as street vendors. In the end, the two students left without warning, and the apartment was occupied for months by people who didn’t pay rent. So they had to bring in the police to clear them out. The neighbours also put pressure on the authorities, saying 10 people lived there, and that they made a lot of noise.
There’s always a chance of coming across bad renters, but to use this excuse to ban all Africans is just absurd. If people start thinking like this, then why not simply stop them from entering the country when they land at the airport? However, that’s not the King’s policy at all, since he is doing everything to make sure African students come to Morocco.