By Zainab Calcuttawala
By Zainab Calcuttawala
Rabat – A Moroccan anti-racist group has called a letter, sent by a group of Tiznit’s city councilors to the head of the city council in January, “irresponsible” for describing Syrian refugees and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa as “social disasters.”
According to Mehdi Alioua, president of the Anti-Racist Group for the Support and Defense of Foreigners and Migrants (GADEM), the views expressed in the letter stand in contrast to the hospitality offered by the Tiznit community to the city’s newcomers.
“These people are wrong and are not in tune with what is happening in Morocco on migration policy,” Alioua said on Wednesday. “The migrants living in Tiznit and other cities today were forcibly displaced by the Moroccan authorities in the north. And contrary to what one might think, Tiznit’s residents have expressed solidarity with migrants.”
The city councilors who wrote the letter are affiliated with the National Rally of Independents (RNI) party. Upon inquiry by Telquel, RNI spokesman Anis Birou, distanced the party from the sentiments expressed in the letter.
“Honestly I do not know about this story because I am abroad, but it is clear that these words shall in no case represent the RNI party or the government, ” Birou explained. “Our country has launched a migration policy praised by all for its regard for the human dimension, its vision and its comprehensiveness,” he added.
In the letter, the city councilors also commented on the lack of funding to develop the city’s mental health resources after the closure of the Bouya Omar shrine in Marrakesh in July 2015. The shrine was closed after reports that mentally ill individuals—795 at the time of closure—who had come or been brought to the shrine for treatment were held in shackles, subjected to exorcisms and treated poorly at the site. After the shrine’s closure, many of the patients were brought to Tiznit for proper treatment.
“The city of Tiznit has became a dumping station for social disasters,” said the letter, dated January 4. “Following the closure of Bouya Omar, Tiznit has hosted many with serious psychological disorders. A psychiatric medicine division was created rather than enlarging the provincial hospital [to provide for patients].”
Edited by Kelsey Fish