Rabat – French presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, paid warm tribute to the northern Moroccan city of Tangier.
During an interview with French radio and RMC TV, hosted by Jean-Jacques Bourdin, one of France’s most famous journalists, Jean-Luc Mélenchon spoke nostalgically of his childhood home of Tangier where he was born in 1951.
“It was an incredibly international city. It got me vaccinated since my birth against intolerance. We were different. My friends and I spoke all sorts of languages: Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and mostly French”, said the socialist candidate in France’s presidential elections.
As Bourdin noted, Mélenchon was called “bicot” (a French pejorative word for “Arab”) when he arrived in France. “Yes, I was leading the life of an immigrant. During my first two years here, people were simple-minded and used to get everything mixed up. To them, everyone who came from there (Morocco) was a ‘bicot.’ They had confused reasons why they despised us.”
His 11 years in Tangier left a deep mark on the socialist politician’s heart. Last January, a documentary was aired on France 3 where he recalled, with a serene smile, the memories of “the smell of the sea in Tangier’s Atlantic coast, and the walk along Boulevard Pasteur where one suddenly comes across a view of the Strait of Gibraltar.”
Life in Tangier and moving to France afterwards instilled in Jean-Luc Mélenchon an ability to identify with North African immigrants in France.
“Leaving North Africa was painful. That is why it got me sensitive to the case of every immigrant. I know how they feel,” said Mélenchon.