Politics

The Political Malaise of moroccan students in france

Article published on June 26, 2014
Article published on June 26, 2014

Oumaïma Rachdi is a jour­nal­ism stu­dent from Casablanca. In the frame­work of the Eu­romed pro­ject Re­porter in Paris, she wanted to focus on the po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion of young Mo­roc­cans in France. Sur­prised by the malaise that pre­vailed on the issue as well as the chronic lack of an­swers, she ex­plains why she cannot write this story.

ca­fé­ba­bel: Why did you choose to study the sub­ject of po­lit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion of young Mo­roc­cans in France?

Ou­maïma Ra­chdi: I wanted to know if Mo­roc­cans [in France] gen­er­ally view pol­i­tics as a taboo. If they thought that po­lit­i­cs is only re­served for a few in­sid­ers, as is the case in Mo­rocco. In my coun­try, pol­i­tics is a for­bid­den topic of con­ver­sa­tion for the av­er­age per­son. It is too closely tied with the sub­ject of the royal fam­ily, an­other taboo today. It is very rare to see young peo­ple speak­ing about pol­i­tics in Mo­rocco. Over the past few years, there have been ​some at­tempts from youth to cre­ate al­ter­na­tive po­lit­i­cal move­ments. It was the Move­ment of Feb­ru­ary 20th (re­fer­ring to Feb­ru­ary 20th, 2011 - Ed­i­tor) that was quickly squashed by the au­thor­i­ties and the power of tra­di­tional par­ties. On April 6th in Casablanca, some young peo­ple went to prison for or­gan­is­ing a march that been au­tho­rised be­fore­hand and was com­pletely peace­ful.

ca­fé­ba­bel: Did you no­tice the same re­straint among Mo­roc­cans in France with re­spect to pol­i­tics?

Ou­maïma Ra­chdi: I found ex­actly the same Mo­roc­can, or Arab, dis­course: pol­i­tics is taboo. The peo­ple whom I met in France told me that they aren't con­cerned about pol­i­tics. I was very sur­prised to hear the same sen­tences, word for word, all end­ing in "Long live the King." Yet peo­ple who I spoke to are young and have been work­ing or study­ing in France for a long time. They should be in­ter­ested in the pol­i­tics of the coun­try where they are liv­ing. They are en­gi­neers, cor­po­rate man­agers, stu­dents in eco­nom­ics or med­i­cine. Most of those whom I in­ter­viewed are French cit­i­zens, but sim­ply wish to enjoy the right to vote, not to be en­gaged.

ca­fé­ba­bel: Why do you think this is so?

Ou­maïma Ra­chdi: I think it's a ques­tion of ed­u­ca­tion. In Mo­rocco, the be­lief that pol­i­tics is dan­ger­ous is passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. Tak­ing an in­ter­est in pol­i­tics means play­ing with fire. Cur­rently, there is a Mo­roc­can-born French min­is­ter and a for­mer min­is­ter who was born in France to Mo­roc­can im­mi­grant par­ents, who was the first Mo­roc­can to hold such an of­fi­cial po­si­tion in the French gov­ern­ment. (Re­fer­ring to Najat Val­laud-Belka­cem and Rachida Dati, re­spec­tively - Ed.) It is a shame.

ca­fé­ba­bel: What are Mo­roc­can stu­dents hop­ing to find in France?

Ou­maïma Ra­chdi: In Mo­rocco, French diplo­mas are recog­nised. If you are a grad­u­ate of a French in­sti­tu­tion, then it will be much eas­ier to find a job when you re­turn home. Young im­mi­grant stu­dents mainly come to gain pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence that then al­lows them to de­velop in their area of ex­per­tise - usu­ally in the fields of en­gi­neer­ing, eco­nom­ics or med­i­cine - es­pe­cially in their coun­try! The peo­ple I met clearly stated that they plan to even­tu­ally re­turn to Mo­rocco. Often, they cited the feel­ing of being viewed as an 'eter­nal im­mi­grant' and the de­sire to change things [that mo­ti­vates them to re­turn]. But, this de­sire for change doesn't trans­late into the po­lit­i­cal arena; it re­mains con­fined to their pro­fes­sional field. Fi­nally, why do Mo­roc­can stu­dents go to France more than else­where, I think it is be­cause of the lan­guage, of course. And the diplo­matic re­la­tions! (Laughs).

This ar­ti­cle is part of a spe­cial pro­ject founded in paris and car­ried out as part of the eu­romed re­porter pro­ject, ini­ti­ated by cafébabel in part­ner­ship with i-watch, the anna lindh foun­da­tion and search for com­mon ground.