Moroccans expelled from Algeria in 1975 still an open wound

45,000 families forced out after Sahara 'Green March'

02 February, 15:27

    (by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) - ROME, FEBRUARY 2 - The 1975 expulsion of 45,000 Moroccan families from Algeria scarred relations between the two countries and continues to create problems between them. The families had long been residing in Algeria, and on December 9 of that year they were unexpectedly issued expulsion orders by President Houari Boumediene. The decree ordered that even Moroccans living in Algeria for generations had to leave the country at extremely short notice. Making it more painful was the fact that it was issued during the most important holiday of the year for Muslims, the Feast of Sacrifice, which is meant to be celebrated in a spirit of solidarity and brotherhood. Many of the Moroccans had been born in Algeria and considered it their homeland. Houari Boumediene, one of Algeria's most popular presidents, made the decision due to the two countries' dispute over the future of the former Spanish Sahara, which Hassan II occupied in a de facto manner in part thanks to the 'Green March', which tens of thousands of people took part in. The 45,000 families were targeted simply as part of a larger political game and were forced to leave everything in their possession in Algeria: property, homes, money and even family jewels. Many of those wanting to remain ended up agreeing to terrible compromises, as the popular Algerian singer Khaled wrote in a 2009 song that speaks about Moroccan girls that agreed to marry elderly men from Oran to stay. All of the initiatives taken thus far by members of the expelled families - who have joined together in the Admea association - have run up against the hardline stance taken by the Algerian authorities. The latter have also rejected requests made by international institutions, such as when the international Human Rights Committee asked Algiers in 2009 to review its decisions. Meanwhile, some members of the families continue to experience hardship in Morocco while others opted to begin from scratch in Europe or elsewhere. (ANSAmed).

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