I have faced a disturbing situation when entering the territory of Morocco as a tourist. I am a French citizen, with obvious Middle-Eastern face features and name, and carrying a French passport.

The immigration border officer first thought I was a Morrocan citizen who was hiding a Moroccan citizenship (it seems to happen a lot) and asked for my Moroccan ID card, which i didn't have since i am not one of their citizens.

Then he asked for my "country of origin", stating that at least one my parents originated from the Middle East(which is true). He then wanted to know the nationality of my parents. I then answered the questions since I didn't want to have trouble with the local authorities. He then wrote the answers on his notebook. The same situation occured when leaving the country and happened with a number of other French citizens who I know.

I consider such questions very intrusive and not part of the officer's business.

How should one behave in this situation ? Is there an international convention on which I can rely in order to avoid such ethnic profiling ?

  • 8
    No, each country basically has the right to determine under what conditions a foreigner is allowed into their country. Only in cases where human dignity is violated would the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights come into effect. Oct 24, 2019 at 13:25
  • 2
    @MarkJohnson what effect would the declaration have here? As far as I can see, it has none.
    – phoog
    Oct 24, 2019 at 15:34
  • 1
    @phoog Other than some publicly, that may assist in making others aware of that countries action, none. Such declarations are about entensions and are often ignored. Oct 24, 2019 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


I'm afraid if you consider these questions too intrusive, you won't want to visit many countries, not just Morocco. Questions about ethnic origin are common. India, for example, wants to know about Pakistani ancestry, even if you were born somewhere else (e.g., USA). My mother was very offended when the Jordanian border guard flat-out asked her if she were Jewish, although she didn't seem to mind when the Israeli border guard asked her if she knew Hebrew. I was asked about Greek ancestry entering Cyprus (Lazarus is patron saint of Cyprus, but I have zero Greek ancestry.) Et cetera.

I suggest answering truthfully. And I can't see any countries agreeing to any sort of convention that would preclude these queries.

Most of these questions, perhaps all, wouldn't happen in a better world. But.

  • 1
    I'm the sort of person who might bristle at such questions but I agree that when dealing with border authorities there's not much one can do.
    – jcm
    Oct 24, 2019 at 20:47
  • At this point they can stop an Egyptian with a valid French passport and refuse him entry for being Egyptian
    – abdul
    Oct 24, 2019 at 23:36
  • 1
    When entering Kazakhstan under visa-free regime, an officer asked help to 4 of his colleagues to check whether my passport was fake, they tried to test my French but no questions about my ancestry :)
    – Jack Dero
    Oct 25, 2019 at 7:21
  • @JackDero how was their French? :)
    – kiradotee
    Oct 25, 2019 at 11:17
  • not very bad :)
    – Jack Dero
    Oct 27, 2019 at 17:03

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