By Ahmed Tarek
By Ahmed Tarek
Rabat – Two Sub Saharan students did not check-in their tramway tickets. It escalated to a verbal fight with the tickets inspector. The justification: The girls were “troubled by their own skin color.”
The story could be Streetcar Named Disaster. This is not an adaptation of Tennessee Williams play. It is not a fictional narrative, nor does it belong to any literary genre. A Streetcar Named Disaster is a living tragedy of racism and discrimination against two Sub-Saharan immigrants in a Rabat streetcar.
The incident began around 9:30 PM, after a long day of work on April 5. The ticket inspector on shift was examining the passengers’ tickets.
The procedure was an simple one, until the inspector approached two Sub Saharan women, who had invalid tickets. He proceeded to ask them to pay for the invalidated-ticket fine, which amounts to MAD 50 each.
Shocked, the two girls looked at each other and cracked a nervous laugh. They explained to the inspector that “we are new to Rabat, and we don’t have the slightest idea about the tramway’s regulations. We can’t be responsible for something we do not know anything about.”
The inspector took the laugh as an insult and insisted that they pay their violation fine. “Your situation is of no interest to me. I’m doing my job and I refuse to compromise,” he said.
The women explained that they live in Tangier and that they were just visiting Rabat. “Tangier does not have a tramway, how are we to know that we must put our tickets in the machine? We thought that all that was required of us is to buy the tickets, which we did. We are not thieves.”
Refusing to understand their situation, the inspector again demanded that the women pay the fine. The girls became agitated, saying that they did not have money nor do they have their student cards with them. They repeated their belief that they should not pay since they did not know how the violation system works.
The war of words between the inspector and the Sub-Saharan women escalated. He called for another inspector to assist him with the situation and the girls demanded police intervention, as the tramway was still moving toward its final destination.
The police were not summoned, but the other inspector was. He repeated the same speech as his co-worker and maintained that the women pay MAD 100, which they said did not have.
“It’s over, it’s on me”
As the situation worsened, a Sub Saharan immigrant intervened and made an effort to calm things down. The two inspectors refused his intervention and asked him to stay out of the discussion.
As latent hostility built up, the man, out of solidarity, volunteered to pay the fine. “I will pay for them. I will pay for them,” he said as signs of nervousness were visible on his face.
The rest of the passengers in the Tramway cabinet where the affair took place, expected the tension to cool down, but to the surprise of everybody, it did not. Shouts and screams were still being heard.
Tension continued to build and, as the man who offered to help was leaving the tramway, he repeated “It’s over! It’s over!” But inspectors indicated that “things are not over.” The man tried to enter the tramway again, but the latter had already departed to it next destination.
“Troubled by their own Color!”
The two girls continued to comment on the unfairness of the situation, but their words were not taken into account. Degraded and hurt by the injustice of the situation, they walked off of the tramway as it stopped.
Their departure revealed to the passengers that behind their elegant suits and “professional behavior,” the two ticket inspectors were, in fact, full of discrimination and racism.
One of the inspectors said to the other “you should forget about what happened, they’re troubled by their own color,” and the other answered him, calling the women “cockroaches.”
A man who introduced himself as a policeman, stepped into the conversation and explained that he was “about to slap the sh*t out of her.”
Another person intervened and warned the inspectors that they’re “creating a diplomatic problem, and that they’ll be responsible for it.” The first inspector stopped him and said “with whom should I be diplomatic? With garbage?”
Public discourse of racial discrimination in Morocco goes beyond violent attacks against Sub-Saharan immigrants, which often takes place in the country. Instead, it takes the form of a war of words, resulting in undeniably racist disasters.