Middle East

Moroccan man’s heroic sacrifice ‘breaks the stereotype’ some want to promote against immigrants

Social media activists launch #Goodbye_Rahhal hashtag in gratitude for Rahhal Amarri’s rescue of 2 Italian children

Khalid Mejdoup   | 24.06.2022
Moroccan man’s heroic sacrifice ‘breaks the stereotype’ some want to promote against immigrants

RABAT, Morocco

Rahhal Amarri, a Moroccan immigrant who had been living in the municipality of Caserta in southern Italy for many years, became the focus of local media attention earlier this month after his heroic act of saving two children from certain death at sea.

The rescue operation, which brought joy to everyone, became a source of sadness when Amarri, 42, died as a result of swallowing a large amount of seawater.


What Amarri did two weeks ago was a message to the countries that host immigrants that they pay dearly for the values ​​of solidarity, despite the high indicators of racism and Islamophobia.

The incident

According to media reports in Morocco and Italy, Amarri had been working for about 20 years as a lifeguard at the Lido dei Gabbiani, a public beach in the commune of Castel Volturno, before he became its manager.

Amarri reportedly heard the parents of two children screaming because their six and seven-year-old sons had been swept away with the current and were crying out for help, so he intervened and quickly rescued the first child and then returned to the second child and succeeded in rescuing him.

But as soon as he reached the shore, he fainted and died, leaving behind his wife and two young children, who are living in Morocco.

A sense of solidarity

Commenting on this, Mohammed Zouak, director of the Moroccan website Ya Biladi, which specializes in immigration and expatriate issues, described the incident as "heroic."

"The incident highlights the extent to which immigrants are linked to the issues of the host countries and their repeated attempts to prove their humanity and solidarity, despite what is being promoted against them," he said in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

"Amarri's story is similar to other stories in which immigrants played a heroic role, whether in saving lives or extending a helping hand."

He pointed out that "during the (coronavirus) pandemic, the solidarity of Moroccan immigrants and other nationalities rose."

“The expatriate's sense of solidarity comes at a time when a wave of racism is rising and negative messages are being promoted around them from a number of media outlets and some belonging to the extreme right.

"What Amarri did…breaks the stereotype that some parties want to promote against immigrants," he added.

Tribute to the late immigrant

For its part, the Italian Embassy in Rabat offered its condolences over the death of Amarri, while activists on social media platforms launched the hashtag #Goodbye_Rahhal in gratitude for the sacrifice he made.

Under this hashtag, Moroccan citizen Taj al-Din al-Sharif described the incident as a tragedy, praising on Facebook what the late immigrant had done "as he gave his life as a price to save two children."

"Amarri died after heroic behavior in saving two children from drowning after they were swept away by the sea waves.

"There are still many condolence statements about the loss of the hero Rahhal, praising his heroic behavior and regretting what happened to him,” he added.

Moroccan Umm Dahdouj al-Madani praised Amarri's heroic work, saying on Facebook that "Amarri is a Moroccan immigrant who hails from the town of Kalaat Sraghna.”

Immigrant values

Abdel-Fattah Zein, a Moroccan expert on immigration issues, told Anadolu Agency that what Amarri had done "reflects his saturation with a number of values ​​and morals."

"Moroccan immigrants or immigrants from other countries have values ​​such as doing good, altruism and helping others, unlike a number of other societies that are dominated by capitalism and governed by political cards."

He pointed out that when immigrants move to other countries, they do not come from a vacuum but from an environment governed by morality and solidarity.

Zein criticized a number of Western countries that put up barriers to migrants and do not address the whole issue of migration "as these countries work, for example, to prevent migrants from reaching them so that they do not benefit from the rights under international conventions."

He drew attention to "the danger of using the migrant card in drawing the political map of a number of European countries and not paying them attention despite the sacrifices they make."

Heroes

Amarri's sacrifice was not the first of its kind, as there have been many situations in which immigrants demonstrated altruism and a spirit unparalleled in the receiving countries.

In May this year, Moroccan Salaheddine El Kharraz, 25, rescued an Italian 13-year-old child from certain death after he was trapped in an apartment that caught fire.

According to Italian newspapers, the accident occurred in one of the apartments in Andorno Micca, located in Biella province, where the young Moroccan intervened after hearing calls of distress from the child's mother, who jumped from the unit to escape the flames.

El Kharraz managed to save the child before firefighters arrived to put out the fire, which consumed the entire apartment.

In May 2018, Malian immigrant Mamadou Gassama saved a boy who was dangling from a balcony on the fourth floor of a residential building in Paris.

International media showed a video clip of the rescue operation, where he managed to climb the four-story building to save the child.

*Writing by Bassel Barakat

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