The Council of Moroccan Living Abroad- CCME held its first symposium in the US on October 23, 2015 in the outskirts of Washington DC. The event was to engage the community in the very pressing topic of the Moroccan constitution and the implementation of the 5 articles related to the Moroccans Living Abroad as highlighted by his Majesty King Mohamed VI.
Given the nature of the event, the working session was the opportunity to provide both concerns, challenges and recommendations and converse with community activists, diplomatic representatives, members of the academia, science and technology, the media, religious affairs, civil society, legal and political experts.
Was also present briefly, his Excellency Ambassador Mr. Rachad Bouhlal and the diplomatic representatives from the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, Mr. Rahhaly and Mr. Rahmouni and Mrs. Tayebi from the Moroccan Consulate.
Even though the meeting was only for one day, the exchange revealed serious flaws about certain assumptions such as the notion that there are only 150,000 Moroccans in the US which is a low number considering that the Moroccan migration to the United States started in the 1980’s and was accelerated by the Green Card Lottery program that takes pl
ace annually. The current make-up of the Moroccan community in the US is so diversified that the CCME has made a special mention to recommend better mechanisms to conduct a census of the American Moroccan community knowing that there is large community of students, children born to one Moroccan parent, community members in the West Coast or away from the Moroccan consulate in New York who are not able to register and obtain the Consular card for instance.
The event tackled the question of the language and culture, and how Morocco should become open to the English language now that a great part of the second and third or even first generation of Moroccans are either residing in English speaking countries like the US or are born in those societies where English is prevalent. This topic has always been a concern for the Moroccan American community as shared by Dr. Mohamed Belkhayat, Principal scientist in Electronics and Electrical engineering, who stated that more efforts should be made to ensure that the second generations of Moroccan Americans are able to communicate with their country-men in Morocco, but more importantly, English is the language of the future and the language of technology is we want Morocco to become competitive in the global markets. Also, the Moroccan culture should become a major element for policy makers in Morocco as a tool to bridge the gap and market the country as a destination for art, tradition, modernity, tolerance and history as illustrated by our local resident artist and professor at George Mason University, Nadia Duchelle.
Mr. Boubker Abisourour, retired World Bank officer and Founder of the Ibn Battouta Academy for Arabic, was present as well as a trailblazer within the community in establishing the first school that catered to American children born to Moroccan parents and was teaching Arabic, Islamic studies and French based on the Moroccan curriculum.
The CCME members who came from Europe and Africa: Abdelhamid El Jamri (France), Hamid Bichri (Italy), Najat Azmy (France), Mohamed Moussaoui (France), Mohamed Faris (Senegal) and Kamal Rahmouni (Spain) shared their experiences and their concerns about the political participation of the Moroccan American community and the absence of this community in the American political process. Further clarifications were brought forth by the Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy, Mr. Jean Abinader who insisted that all politics are local and that our community needs to become more engaged with the political arena starting with small steps at the local schools and municipal levels for instance, in addition to learning from early Arab settlers and building coalitions with other minority groups.
The conversation also included the religious aspect of this community and the great gap when it comes to Moroccan Malikite-based institutions, mosques and houses of worship. Up to this day, Moroccan American mosques in the US are scarce if not absent and so are religious figures within our community that can lead the effort of sharing the Islamic faith within the frame of the Moroccan culture of respect, understanding and moderation. Dr. Al Aziz Eddebbarh, retired scientist and attendee of the Hartford Seminary in Islamic Champlaincy, flew all the way from Las Vegas to share the need for more religious collaboration between the US and Morocco through the various institutions currently offering Islamic Chaplaincy programs in the US and the need to extend current programs in Morocco beyond the immediate borders.
Also, the discussion about the science, research, education and technology was very passionate as we learned from Dr. Mohamed Bourdi, Dr. and Researcher in Phycology at the world-renown National Institute of Health, about the near absence of Moroccan scientific publications due mainly to the English language not gaining fluency in Morocco yet and the disconnect that exists between academic institutions in Morocco and the scientific diaspora who is willing to go to Morocco and share knowledge and best practices.
Last but not least, the issue of social and youth challenges in the US was discussed. There is still a large number of community members who are not able to integrate the American way of life which is dependent on learning the language and accessing services. Many do come from Morocco with very or no English knowledge and are unable to move forward professionally due to the language barrier which forces many of them into low paying jobs and poor level of opportunities. On a more dramatic end, there is a lack of awareness and support system for new comers and families in difficult situation, special attention must be paid to mothers with children who are facing challenges such as displacement, violence or homelessness as emphasizes by Mr. Moulydriss Aloumouati, Supervisor at the Social services for Fairfax County in Virginia.
Overall, the event was a great opportunity for the CCME members to get to know members of the Moroccan American community in the Greater Washington DC Metro and be able to share some of their experiences and input through the CCME’s recommendations to policy makers in Morocco and His Majesty King Mohamed VI.
As confirmed by the CCME representative in the US, Mrs. Nadia Serhani, the event that brought together all these actors and representatives was successful in setting the tone for future events to be held in the US with other Moroccan communities to shed the light on their challenges and consolidate their input and recommendations in an effort to present these findings as a final CCME report to inform policy makers and especially ensure that the articles of the constitution related to the Moroccan community abroad are put in place through the establishment of organic laws based on these various feedback.
Last, the CCME seeks to help policy makers in Morocco to implement the articles of the constitution by engaging the various stakeholders to include the Moroccans of the world in the process of creating these organic laws and to include them as directed by his Majesty King Mohamed VI in the various governmental institutions as full fledged citizens of Morocco with a seat at the table.