The policeman learned Moroccan Arabic from his father and a language school.
Rabat – A police officer in the Spanish enclave of Melilla used Darija, Moroccan Arabic, to address a group of worried Moroccans who could not return home due to the COVID-19 crisis and closed borders.
A video that has gone viral on social media shows the Melilla police officer speaking fluent Darija to explain the situation to concerned Moroccan citizens.
La Sexta identifies the officer as Rashid, who has 19 years of experience in the police force.
The Spanish outlet said Rashid learned Dar from his father and at a language school. While La Sexta did not detail the police officer’s roots, his name and experience with Darija suggest he is of Moroccan origin.
“Please, let us work together. Everyone is thinking about [his/her] own good. No, we should [join] efforts and work together,” Rashid said.
The officer warned that the elderly face the greatest risks from COVID-19 and urged the group to take preventive measures in order to protect themselves.
“Morocco closed borders to contain the virus. Not against you. Moroccans are afraid of the virus. We need to take into account all of this,” he explained, adding that Spanish authorities are ready to assist people wishing to go back to Spain.
“We don’t have a problem opening borders with Morocco. If Morocco tells us to open borders we will open them. If anyone is going to violate the measures, he will be locked,” Rashid said.
The video dates back to March 15, according to La Sexta, when Morocco suspended all international flights and maritime travel to contain the spread of the virus and to ensure the safety of citizens.
Morocco closed borders with the two Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla on March 13, only allowing the crossing of Spanish tourists wishing to return to Spain. Melilla confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 on March 12.
Spain has the second-highest COVID-19 case count and death toll in the world. Cases stand at 166,019 and deaths are steadily approaching 17,000.