1960s: Characteristics of Moroccan and Turkish migrations to Brussels

Johan Leman, 2 June 2024

Based on the 70 detailed interviews I held with people from that period until today, I remember not only many similarities, but also some differences in their migration scenario.

I briefly mention some salient ones. It is clear that the bilateral agreements between Belgium and Morocco and Turkey respectively played a role as a multiplier of these migrations, but actually these migrations had been going on from 2-3 years earlier.       

A second thing that is clear is that, broadly speaking, as far as migrations to Brussels at that time are concerned, we should think mainly of the Rif as the departure zone for Moroccans and Emirdag for Turks, but… in each case there was also a second line of migration, namely Moroccans who left Algeria and travelled on to Belgium and Turks from former Yugoslavia who left for Brussels after a stay in Izmir or Istanbul.

Finally, half left as tourists and sought and found work only after arriving in Brussels. Let us say that the difference with illegally arriving migrants today was really only that people did not speak of illegals then and that they found work quite quickly.

There are still other interesting facts to be commented, but that will be for a later opinion…