By Erin Geneva
Morocco World News
Rabat, July 7, 2013
Since arriving in Morocco a few months back, I have had a lot of concerns expressed by my family and friends at home about my personal safety. Mostly, these are due to the media painting a picture of Africa as a crime ridden continent ravaged by armed conflicts, and a particularly bad representation of Arabs.
To this, I have told them that no, I don’t feel at all unsafe in Morocco, and that the media has greatly exaggerated the dangers present in Morocco. Particularly, the media has painted a picture of Morocco as being a completely Arab state (untrue) and also represents Arabs (to put it mildly) in a less than flattering light. After I dispel the media myths to my friends and family at home in Canada, I will tell them that I’m not afraid of a terrorist attack, I’m not afraid of getting robbed and I’m not afraid of an armed conflict breaking out. What I am afraid of, is the very mundane activity of crossing the road.
Since I have come here, something very interesting I have noticed is that whenever I get into a car with anyone, they say “Bismillah” before they begin driving. This seems to be a prayer of hope for a safe drive. I can certainly understand why people feel the need to say this here.
I’m not saying that car accidents and road rage are not spread all over the world. I have been in my own fair share of car accidents, one that I am ashamed to admit I actually caused.
However since coming to Morocco, I have seen more car accidents and what I would consider to be irresponsible driving habits than every other country I have visited except India. While walking on the streets, I often pay attention to drivers and where their eyes are while driving. It has more than once frightened to me to discover that many drivers don’t even have their heads facing in the direction of the road let alone their eyes.
I see an equal amount of distracted drivers anywhere in the world I go. This is often a cause of accidents, even where traffic laws are strictly adhered to. However, while traveling around Morocco, I have seen many people disregard traffic lights, signs and pedestrians in crosswalks. The inevitability of human distraction, paired with what (at least appears to be) a somewhat frequent disregard of traffic laws makes me somewhat uneasy.
And so I am happy to report that the dangers that the media has depicted about Morocco are (as I have experienced), exaggerated, and I would say that generally I feel quite comfortable in Morocco and find it very safe.
But, at the risk of sounding preachy I will say here: Please when you are driving, don’t worry about getting there faster, worry about getting there at all.