Rabat – The prosecutor’s office in Marrakech has charged a snake charmer from Jemaa El Fna Square for fraud and breach and trust.
The charge comes from the unnamed snake charmer attempting to charge a tourist €40 (MAD 450) for one photo with a snake around his neck. Feeling pressured to pay the fee, the tourist gave in before lodging a complaint with Marrakech’s tourist police.
Police officers then immediately headed to the scene to arrest the alleged fraudster. Upon searching the snake charmer, they found the €40 taken from the tourist and then referred him to the prosecutor’s office.
Tourists visiting Marrakech’s ancient Jemaa El Fna Square often complain of pushy snake charmers, who try to charge those who don’t know better exorbitant fees for photos. “Please beware of the snake charmers, we got sucked in and after 6 or 7 photos received a demand for MAD 300. I let my guard down this once and learned my lesson!” One travel forum user said.
“Do not make eye contact with any performers in the square! They are mental!” Another comment read. “During our first hour in Marrakech, my husband stopped to look at the snakes, one ended up around my neck. Then they hassled us for a tip, even though they forced the snake around my neck.”
“We had no dirhams on us as we only just arrived. They insisted we had to tip them for good luck, and wouldn’t leave us alone. I gave them £1 and still, he was not satisfied said he wanted paper English money,” the traveler complained.
“I am not impressed with the tipping/begging culture going on. We are not made of money just because we are from the UK.”
As well as discouraging tourists, the practice is also cruel to snakes. The snakes often have their fangs removed to prevent their natural instinct to bite, or even worse, sewn shut, according to animal rights group PETA.
While the snake charming might seem magical, the “dance” these snakes perform is actually a reactive sway out of fear for the snake charmer’s movements—as a means of self-defense from “attack” from the pipe. Some countries, such as India, have taken action to ban the practice completely.