Netherlands: Moroccans fear attacks on the way to Morocco

Netherlands: Moroccans fear attacks on the way to Morocco

Dutch Moroccan are getting into their cars in fear this year, for the far trip to family in Morocco.  More and more often they are the target of attacks, regularly with violence, along the highways in Spain.  According to the Dutch automobile association (ANWB) just last weekend the hotline in Barcelona got six reports.  This is a new phenomenon, says a spokesperson.   "In the past, mother sewed in the valuable things into her corset.  But the new generation of Moroccans is pretty affluent, drives in pretty cars and has pretty things and often a lot of money with them, because they go for a longer time.  That makes them into an attractive victim."

Helmond council member Mohammed Chahim raised the topic in a letter to the minister of foreign affairs Verhagen and state secretary Timmermans.  They were asked to raise the topic of the attacks by the officials in Spain.  The Dutch Moroccan organization SMN also sent a letter to the ministry expressing their concern.

Chahim says that these are brutal attacks where the cars are forced off the road and robbed.  "It causes us concern that people are going no a journey armed, to protect themselves."  In the tea-houses and mosques it is the talk of the day these days.

"We also want the Dutch consulate to be prepared for it," says chairman Farid Azarkan of the SMN.

Attacks on vacationers in Spain has been a problem for years.  In the past mostly 'Western' tourist with expensive cars were the victim. Now the gangs, mostly of East-European origin, also have it in for the Moroccans.  According to Chahim they often take presents and a lot of cash, for the family, or for a wedding.

Chahim: "It's sometimes ten-thousand euro.  It's savings, but sometimes also 'black' money.  That is the reason that people often don't dare make a report. Moroccans don't go to the police so quickly anyway. That has to do with shame.  Also the language problem plays a role in making a report.

Members of the Moroccan community in Eindhoven say they'll go armed this weekend or next week.  In April of this year, four Moroccan boys from Amsterdam ended up in a Spanish jail.  They shot their East-European attackers in the legs and beat them up with clubs.

Diverse stories come up from a stock-taking by the SMN.  Robbers disguised  as police agents take cars off the road.  Or cars are are hijacked while filling up.  Azarkan says that it's much more severe this year than previous years.

Source: ED (Dutch)

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