Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Visiting Small Moroccan Towns - A Cautionary Tale

If you are travelling solo in towns you don’t know well, it’s best to keep your camera tucked away until you wish to use it – particularly during festival periods.

Last Sunday a disturbing incident happened in the usually charming town of Sefrou, located about 30 kilometres from Fez. A Fez gallery owner was assaulted and his camera stolen while attending the end of the Cherry Festival.

“I’m well travelled and usually I feel safe in daylight, especially in the mornings,” said the gallery owner. (Name withheld on request.) “However, this happened at 10.15 in the morning.”

After crossing the bridge, “I lined up for a drink and to wash my hands at a fountain inside the medina. Before I realized what was happening, a young man of about 23 grabbed my camera strap from around my neck. When I held onto it he pulled out a sizeably sharp knife and proceeded to slice my arm - quite deeply in one place. An artery shot out a considerable quantity of blood. I quickly became soaked in blood as he continued to slice away at me.”

The victim's sneakers after the assault
After the owner let go of the camera - a Canon Rebel with a 40-50 mm lens - the young man ran off into the medina with it.

The gallery owner said the thing that shocked him most about the assault was that between 40-50 other people, both men and women, stood by passively as he cried for help.

Just outside the medina he managed to find two policemen who called an ambulance. He was then taken to a hospital where he received seven stiches for the wound to his hand.

Some of the stitches needed
A Sefrou resident told The View from Fez, “Sefrou has three times its normal population during the festival. The people come from the mountains and are desperately poor. Pick pockets come to town... Nobody here would walk around with a camera on their shoulder...I don't blame the festival, but Sefrou is normally not like that....At this time of the year, we even take the pot plants off our roof.”

The gallery owner suggests that, particularly if travelling alone, “you only take your camera out when you are going to do a shoot.”


Anonymous said...

Pot plants or potted plants? I like the way it's written better, but assume potted. Hope the victim is OK.

Helen Ranger said...

In British English it's pot plants. Perhaps potted plants is American English?