Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco find hope in art and performance

By Robert Dozier

RABAT, Morocco – Jackie Zappa, is an artist from the Ivory Coast — one of an estimated 30 thousand migrants from Sub Saharan Africa. A painter and sculptor, Zappa says he lived in Tunisia and Algeria but his art was not appreciated in those countries.  Communities of migrant artists, musicians and performers are flourishing in Rabat and Casablanca.

“Morocco is the only place in Africa where I can improve my talent,” said Zappa.

Last year alone, more than one million people migrated to Europe, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, according to the International Organization for Migration. 

Read more

Local Human Rights Groups Feel Brunt of Morocco’s Crackdown

By Simeon Lancaster

SALE, Morocco – Cracking a smile, Mohamed Chakhmane, 32, kicks a pebble into a muddy hole in an old concrete foundation next to his home in Sale’s Sehb El Kaid slum, as he recalls his participation in pro-democracy protests in 2011.  His demands included improved housing and an end to corruption a struggle that Chakhmane first got involved with 13 years ago.

At that time, he turned to the Moroccan Association of Human Rights for help.

But these days, Chakhmane prefers to stay away from the Association, which is facing a campaign of harassment and intimidation by the government such as blocked meetings and denied operating permits.

Read more

Zineb Belmkaddem – Connecting the Battles for Human Rights


RABAT, Morocco – Zineb Belmkaddem, 29, cynically credits the government for her newest job as an English teacher at Euromediterranean University of Fez, a recently established university in Morocco.

“I know the government has something to do with this job,” she said. “They want me off the street. I mean, off everything. My boss told me.”

Due to her outspoken criticism of the local regime, Belmkaddem says the government is trying to restrain her by keeping her busy at the university. In a country where freedom of expression is limited, this Muslim feminist is one of the last prominent human rights activists left in Morocco.

Read more