Al Jazeera World – The Retirement Trap


The story of Moroccan pensioners in Europe and their attempts to address pension injustice and ‘retirement apartheid’.

Filmmaker: Hossam Shahadat

Moroccans who have spent all their working lives in France and the Netherlands are now facing discrimination against their pensions in what has been slammed as a form of ‘retirement apartheid’.

Retired French and Italians can live anywhere in Europe without it affecting their domestic pension entitlements; but north Africans who’ve lived and worked in France for more than 40 years are denied the same rights.

Instead they face a stark choice – return to their home countries and lose large slices of their pension and face medical bills they can’t afford; or remain in, say, France with their full pensions but away from their families back home.

“I’m sick,” says 75-year-old Mohamed Air Wakrim who’s lived in France for 45 years. “If I stay in Morocco for more than six months, they’ll find out and take away my rights.”

Contrast this with the treatment of Europeans and you have what some people have called ‘retirement apartheid’.

“In Tunisia, I only have to pay four or five percent tax,” says Italian pensioner Mauro Sansovini. “In Italy, the tax rate on my pension income is between 40 and 45 percent.”

Salim Fkire, the president of CAP SUD MRE, a campaign group of Moroccans residing abroad, sums up the situation: “Mohamed and Patrick both worked in the same factory, got the same pension and paid the same taxes. Today, Patrick has the right to live permanently in Agadir. But Mohamed can’t stay in his home town for more than six months. After that he’ll have to return to France or else he’ll lose his social rights.”

In The Retirement Trap, we look at the struggles of Moroccans to redress this pension injustice and escape the retirement trap they find themselves in.

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  1. france is an apertheid state. they worked all their life and are locked up in susburbs?french ghettos, you would imagine that frnce would prefer if arabs retire in north africa.

  2. Documentary is introducing bias right from the start. The Europeans who move abroad are middle/upper middle class citizens, the Moroccans are lower middle class non-citizen workers. Of course their options are very different, how could it be equal?

    Why is working in the cold "suffering"? Didn't they know Europe wasn't a dry desert? For Europeans snow and rain is just weather, nothing else, nothing as dramatic as "suffering".
    Why didn't they bother to acquire citizenship in 30-40 years? The guy saying he will never get French citizenship, he made his CHOICE and now he will suffer, it's his own fault.

    Let's calculate: Moroccan guy get's 370€ housing allowance, rent is 400€, so he's only paying 30€ for the apartment – practically free. He has free healthcare, no cost. He has a 1000€ pension that's a lot of money for 1 pensioner, enough to feed himself and travel on budget. In Eastern parts of EU, you get 300€, there is NO housing allowance, you have to pay certain health care costs and food costs the same amount.

    Of course Moroccans in Netherlands earning income from Morocco should be taxed on it, just like everyone else. This isn't "spying", this is normal.

    Muslim attitude in the 21st century seems to be "we deserve special treatment". No, you don't.

  3. Very sad!… These retirees are just asking for the right to retire in their country of origin !…
    Why should a French citizen have the right to retire in Morocco with his full pension and a Moroccan can't?
    This is just a sinistre opportunity by French/European politicians to change the laws in order to rob these pensioners of their rights…Disgusting !

  4. This world is really something. So the Tunisian man can't retire to his own country without retribution, but the Frenchman can retire to the Tunisian man's country practically for free.

  5. I agree that social security shouldn't be paid outside of a country, they should give them a lump sum of their pension if they want to leave the country.

  6. Why does everyone think they have the right to European citizenship? These other pensioners are from different countries that is the reason for the disparity yet AlJazeera is trying to say its just because some are muslim and some are white european how ridiculous can you get I guess that's what you get from an outlet in Doha

  7. Some of these pensioners from Western countries get more than 3,000 euros a month. That's insane. You can live anywhere in the world as a retired couple on 6,000 euros month. ANYWHERE

    Meanwhile in Eastern Europe people work for 30 years and get a 300-400 euro a month pension. Privileged Westerners, the worst part is they don't understand their privilege.

  8. That man worked in eu for 14 years and gets 1000 euros. Not enought for him. He should worked in gulf countries. 🙂
    And I goverment should not allow to pay pensions outside of EU.

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