Harragas

I was saddened by this news report about the death of 37 people off the coast of Morocco. The would-be migrants had used the city of Al-Hoceima as a departure point, instead of leaving from Tangier, which is approximately 10 miles away from Spain. They wanted to avoid the radar systems recently put in place by the EU, but their route was much further away, and many of them drowned. The details in the report were eerily similar to some I had imagined for my book. One passenger, for instance, had a university degree in mathematics, and had tried everything he could to find a job. He paid the exorbitant sum of $6,000 in order to try his luck on a boat, hoping to find a job in Europe. One of my characters, Murad, has a similar background, and the same notion that immigration will help him solve his problems. His belief is of course, based on the stories he hears from those who’ve made it:

Amidst such problems some emigrants return on holidays to show off, Nadif said. “They drive around in fancy cars with Italian number plates. They make Europe sound like an El Dorado.”

“I know Europe is not a paradise,” says Farid, a 25-year-old with a degree in French literature. “But I do know a European can find a job with one of my degrees.”

But stories like this one, of people drowning or ships sinking, slip by without registering on anyone’s mind for too long. It’s like the lottery. No one thinks of the losers. It’s much too comforting to think of the winner.

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