On this solemn occasion of the one-month anniversary of the tragic killing of Nael Merzouk, a French 17-year-old boy of Algerian and Moroccan descent, by a police officer in France on June 27, 2023, the Migration and Refugee Forum for the Arab World (MARFA) reiterates its call for relentless advocacy in combating systemic racism and institutionalized violence faced by citizens of Arab origin in France and societies across the global north. This heartbreaking loss should serve as a stark reminder of our collective responsibility to challenge oppressive and discriminatory practices worldwide.
Systemic racism is deeply ingrained and requires a sustained, comprehensive effort involving international collaboration among multiple countries, including the sending nations of migrants and refugees. It is a complex issue that cannot be resolved through isolated actions or the efforts of a single country. Thus, we call upon all nations and stakeholders to come together, address the underlying causes, and work toward lasting change.
We call on French institutions, the international community, and human rights organizations to uphold their commitment to justice for the Merzouk family and all citizens of Arab descent. Passive gestures are no longer sufficient; we must dedicate unwavering efforts to end all forms of discrimination and racialization.
Our call for justice in Nael’s case is not driven by impatience but rather by our dedication to long-term advocacy. MARFA firmly stands against the classification of individuals based on their ethnic origins and denounces all forms of discrimination that violate human and citizen rights.
The culture of impunity within law enforcement must be addressed urgently. We appeal for comprehensive judicial reforms, transparent accountability practices, and an unequivocal shift in the prevailing discourse that sustains marginalization, demonization, and orientalism. We all have a role in ending the injustice and violence against racialized citizens, and we must collectively dismantle these harmful paradigms.
Nael’s tragic death is not an isolated incident; it represents a disturbing pattern. We mourn not only his fate but also the lives lost due to racial biases in policing, such as John Mendez of Brazilian origin in Britain (2005) and George Floyd in the United States of America (2020). These incidents underscore the urgent need for change.
We recognize that racism is deeply rooted in colonial history and cultural discourses, perpetuated across generations. Addressing historical injustices is crucial, along with acknowledging contemporary manifestations of unbalanced power relations between the global north and south.
We refuse to accept the asymmetric balance of power that enables violence against racialized citizens through discriminatory laws, practices, and policies. Migrants and refugees deserve their fundamental rights and should not be subjected to dehumanizing treatment or vilification.
The global community must unite in collective efforts to address this pervasive issue. We call upon all international actors, countries of origin, and receiving countries to collaborate and contribute to developing comprehensive, multi-faceted solutions. Upholding basic rights, including the right to life, freedom from torture, and respect for cultural and economic rights, is non-negotiable.
Together, let us strive for a world where justice prevails, equality reigns, and human rights are cherished above all else. Through collaboration, we can create a world that values diversity and inclusivity, leaving no room for marginalization and oppression. MARFA remains committed to this critical mission, and we urge others to join us.
The Migration and Refugee Forum for the Arab World (MARFA) is an independent network of Arab academics, human rights activists, and lawyers that emerged in response to the dire need for a collective approach to championing the rights of migrants and refugees and raising awareness about related pressing issues in the region, including statelessness and the Arab diaspora.