A refusal by the Netherlands to allow in three young Moroccan breakdancers with valid visas to take part in a competition has stirred anger and racism charges in their home country.
Omar Bourich, Hamza el-Karmoudi and Ahmed Iggar, members of a dance group called “The Lions Crew”, landed in the Netherlands on January 10 for a competition the next week.
They had Schengen visas, which cover the Netherlands, and return tickets to Morocco, Iggar told AFP, and told Dutch immigration officials that they had 300 euros ($340) to cover expenses.
“We told them we were artists and that Omar and Hamza had already been to Europe in the past, but they didn’t want to hear,” he said, accusing the officials of being “racist and unjust”.
He said they were held for up to a week at a detention centre in the city of Rotterdam, before being sent back to Marrakesh in two groups.
Contacted by AFP, a Dutch foreign ministry spokeswoman, Willemien Veldman, said: “A visa does not give automatic access to a Schengen country.
“The border police are authorised to make their own considerations about admission based on available information.”
She added: “Of course we understand the disappointment.”
The incident stirred a buzz on social media in the North African country, where one commentator posted: “I’m an artist, not a criminal.”
It was “an injustice” and “unacceptable”, was the reaction from Maria Daif, a prominent figure on the Moroccan arts scene.
© Agence France-Presse
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