Article written

  • on 24.09.2014
  • at 11:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

Murder of Senegalese migrant overshadows ‘radically new’ politics of migration in Morocco 0

Over the past few weeks, gruesome images have circulated depicting the ghastly murder of Charles Ndour, a twenty-five-year-old Senegalese migrant living in Morocco. Besides the outrage sparked in Senegal and Morocco by the conditions surrounding his death, the handling of the affair by Moroccan authorities has resulted in a fiasco overshadowing the progress achieved in the country to establish a “radically new” politics of migration.

Late on Friday 29th August, in Tangier’s peripheral neighbourhood of Boukhalef, tensions between sub-Saharans and Moroccans were high after a series of assaults on migrants resulting in several casualties, including one death. According to an eyewitness, some Moroccans stormed into the apartment where Charles Ndour lived with other migrants. They led the women to the back of the apartment and asked all the men but Charles to leave, “as if they wanted to make an example out of him, show what they were capable of, and terrorize us”. They slit Charles’ throat with a knife and pushed him out to die on the street.

Though shocking, Charles Ndour’s death does not come as a surprise. A week before, Vice UK published a feature article asking whether Moroccan gangsters were being paid to beat up sub-Saharan migrants. NGOs have for some time been denouncing the increasing tensions in this marginal neighbourhood on the outskirts of Tangier.

According to Hicham Rachidi, founding member of the NGO Gadem, between 800 and 1000 sub-Saharans live in Boukhalef, many eventually hoping to be able to cross over to Spain. NGOs and migrants point to the “marchands de sommeil”, or slumlords, who take hold of properties belonging to Moroccans living abroad and illegally rent them to migrants (as well as Moroccans) as a major source of community tension. Every summer, serious issues arise as Moroccans return for the holidays and migrants are forcibly evicted. In mid-August, Helena Melano, a Spanish activist, witnessed attacks on sub-Saharan migrants and was herself threatened whilst the police failed to offer any protection.

NGOs and migrants’ associations have denounced the disinformation over the affair, which has depicted the death as the result of an “altercation” between Moroccans and sub-Saharans. Evidence points to its premeditation and a general pattern of scamming and intimidation that migrants experience, unprotected by the police. They also stressed that, contrary to what had been alleged in the media, Charles Ndour was not an irregular migrant.

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Photo credit: brukmer 

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