Dozens of Moroccans demonstrated outside the European Union office in Rabat on Tuesday to protest the “racist” and “degrading” treatment of visa applications, particularly by former colonial ruler France.
“We are here to express our anger at the humiliation, arrogance and racism suffered by many of our compatriots whose visa applications have been rejected by EU countries,” said Aziz Ghali, one of the organizers and head of the AMDH rights group.
Ghali accused the EU states of limiting the number of visas issued and rejecting applicants even though they met the criteria.
“Visa withdrawal is discriminatory and racist,” read one poster.
Protesters also criticized policies like refusing to justify refusals or refunding processing fees.
After a call from the AMDH and the LMDDH rights group, around 50 people took part in the protest, many shouting, “Yes to free movement, no to colonial treaties!”
Schengen visas, issued to non-EU citizens, allow the holder to travel freely between 26 EU countries.
AMDH activist Khadija Ryadi said Moroccan visa applicants faced “unacceptable and unjustified” refusals despite having legitimate reasons to travel to EU countries, “especially France”.
In 2021, France decided to halve the number of visas it issues to Moroccans and Algerians, citing these countries’ reluctance to bring back their clandestine citizens.
The decision has sparked ongoing public anger and tensions between Paris and their governments in both countries.
However, a French official accused Moroccan media and social media users of exaggerating the rate of rejected applications, insisting the number of student visas issued in 2022 is similar to last year.