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Moroccans protest 'racist' French, EU visa policies

Members of a Moroccan human rights association demonstrate in front of the European Union offices in Rabat against the restriction of visa
— Rabat (AFP)

Dozens of Moroccans demonstrated outside the European Union's office in Rabat on Tuesday in protest at "racist" and "humiliating" treatment over visa applications, particularly by former colonial ruler France.

"We're here to express our anger at the humiliation, arrogance and racism endured by many of our compatriots whose visa requests have been rejected by EU states," said Aziz Ghali, one of the organisers and head of the AMDH rights group.

Ghali accused EU states of limiting the number of visas issued and rejecting applicants despite the fact they met the criteria.

"Depriving visas is discriminatory and racist," one placard read.

Protesters also criticised policies such as refusing to justify rejections or refund processing fees.

Following a call by the AMDH and the LMDDH rights group, around 50 people attended the protest, many chanting: "Yes to freedom of movement, no to colonial agreements!"

Schengen visas issued to non-EU citizens allow the holder to travel freely among 26 EU countries.

AMDH activist Khadija Ryadi said Moroccan applicants for the visas faced "unacceptable and unjustified" rejections, despite having legitimate reasons to travel to EU countries, "particularly France".

In 2021, France decided to halve the number of visas it issues to Moroccans and Algerians, citing those countries' reluctance to repatriate their citizens living clandestinely in France.

The decision has sparked ongoing public anger in both countries and tensions between Paris and their governments.

A French official however accused Moroccan media and social media users of exaggerating the rate of rejected applications, insisting that the number of student visas issued in 2022 was similar to that of last year.

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