Europe, the geographical entity, that sealed political Union, is right there, just 14 km
away. You can see it on a clear day, when the wind blows away the clouds and the sea mist
lifts. But Europe was also here, it played a part in our lives for decades, it was home to
many merchants, painters, musicians and writers both from the East and the West. Cultures
and religions used to live together up until the early 1980s when visas were introduced to
cross the Strait. This determined an inequality in relations between Europe and Morocco,
instilling in Moroccans a yearning to come to Europe and a fear of Morocco in Europeans. Up
until recently it was still like this and the Medina neighbourhood was a no man’s land, a
filthy and dangerous labyrinth inhabited by people from all over Africa.
It was the last African outpost before leaping into the blue sea in search of a future, risking your life in a raft or inside the belly of a truck waiting to be boarded onto a ship at the port. Now things have changed, the future has arrived, the Medina is a symbol of tourism and the border is no longer somewhere in the sea but has moved inside of us and among us. Our country has changed since King Mohamed VI began his reign. I don’t know if it’s for the better, but things have changed. There is plenty of work and we have a vibrant economy, although we are not totally free and the police tend to claim powers that are not constitutionally theirs. But there is hope. And it is clear that Tangiers is no longer the departure lounge for the destitute but instead a magnet for workers. Those who emigrated to Spain now want to return.