Expatriates

Tahar Benjelloun to Le Pen Voters in Morocco: Go Back To France

By Thomas Dupaquier

Rabat - The famous Moroccan writer Tahar Benjelloun published an open letter on Le360 on May 1 to the 750 French citizens living in Morocco who voted for the Front National leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of the presidential elections, criticizing the hypocrisy of voting against Muslims and immigration while benefiting from life in Morocco.

Ever since the results of the first round of elections came out on April 27, Moroccans have been very vocal in denouncing Le Pen voters currently living in Morocco, accusing them of being racist and ungrateful of the country they currently live in. In response, Karim Boukhari wrote an open letter to Moroccans insulting the “Frontistes” in Morocco, arguing that these insults represent exactly what they are supposedly fighting: intolerance. According to him, he who feels stigmatized does not gain the right to stigmatize others.

Ben Jelloun chose to express a different opinion to that of his friend Boukhari on this debate. Ben Jelloun argues that voting Le Pen today, whether someone lives in France or abroad, is a very serious political act. Front National voters choose to support the racist and violent ideals of a party who argues the answer of all of France’s problems would come from getting rid of all foreigners on French soil. Indeed, Le Pen has recently declared in an April 17th speech that: “behind immigration, there is crime, behind immigration there is Islamism, behind immigration there is terrorism…”.

The famous writer of Le Racime expliqué a ma fille goes on by arguing the 750 French citizens living in Morocco who voted Le Pen should be ideologically consistent and return home to France, where they hoped for the victory of a xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and not very politically-correct party. He believes that to vote Le Pen is an insult for Moroccans immigrants in France. Indeed, these “Lepenistes” don’t recognize the difference between Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians, perceiving them all as intruders who benefit from social services without contributing to society, a view which ignores that these immigrants are there to work, settle, and pay taxes.

Le Pen and her party members express strong anti-Muslim rhetoric, arguing that “Islam is incompatible with the Republic,” and blaming all of France's troubles on the five million Muslims living in the country. Le Pen opposes French society and the idea of being French – an important debate during the electoral campaign – to that of being Muslim. After the 2012 terrorist attacks of Mohamed Merah, a French citizen born in Toulouse of Algerian descent, Le Pen declared that boats and planes will soon arrive in France filled with Mohamed Merah’s. To Ben Jelloun, she constantly and openly equates immigrants with terrorists, ignoring the difference between French-born children and their parents who immigrated to France and thus marginalizing a large portion of the French population.

Further, Ben Jelloun mentions the 1995 death of Brahim Bouarram, a 29-year-old Moroccan, who was thrown by supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s father, into the Seine River in Paris where he fatally drowned. Mr. Bouarram’s death has remerged in the current election after Emmanuel Macron, Le Pen’s rival in the second round, honored Bouarram’s death by visiting the plaque set up in memory of his death. The En Marche candidate declared he couldn’t forget the past of the Front National party and promised to fight the party and what it represents in the second round until the end.

Tahar Ben Jelloun concludes by saying that if someone hates both North Africans and Muslims, living in Morocco is contradictory. For him, Morocco is above this kind of hate, and they won’t ask for the expulsion of those that live there in safety, but those who are scared of Islam and of Arabs should leave. Those that are prepared to vote Le Pen in the second round while benefiting from a good life in Morocco should be consistent with their beliefs and accept the consequences that come with it.

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