Washington DC -- While the Moroccan public disappointment with Munir El-Haddadi's decision to play for La roja is understandable, the Barcelona star’s choice is logical.
Washington DC — While the Moroccan public disappointment with Munir El-Haddadi’s decision to play for La roja is understandable, the Barcelona star’s choice is logical.
Munir was born and raised in Spain, he went to school in Spain and learned soccer in a Catalan academy. Beside the fact that his father is Moroccan, El-Haddadi has nothing to link him to Morocco. He is Spanish and has every right to play for Spain’s national team. Thus, the Moroccan public should respect Munir’s decision and Moroccan officials should review their failed outreach policies toward Moroccans Residing Abroad ((MRE) as it is known in French).
Instead of doubting the young star’s patriotism, Moroccan officials should ask themselves the real question: Is the Kingdom doing enough to keep the second and third generations of Moroccans living abroad “attached” to the old country? The Answer is an emphatic NO.
The case of Munir highlights the failure of the Moroccan government policy to create considerable cultural, linguistic, religious and political influences in countries with heavy diaspora presence. Despite dozens of official, semi-official and independent organisms active around the world, MRE associations remain disorganized and divided. Morocco’s Ministry of MRE and its sponsored bodies seem ineffective and non-existent in some countries.
After dozens of unproductive meetings in Morocco and overseas and the creations of several study groups, Governmental entities that were created to address MRE demands remain unresponsive to the diaspora needs, including transparency in the methods of choosing MRE representatives, direct and aggressive outreach campaigns, and a clear budgetary process.
The work of the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) is a case in point. Seven years after its birth, the CCME has sponsored several visits and counter visits between Moroccan and foreign dignitaries, but didn’t produce tangible results that would in fact affect the lives of Moroccans overseas.
Most of the CCME activities are irrelevant to the struggles and worries of the MRE. The money spent on visits and meetings should have gone to investments that would strengthen the cultural and linguistic bonds between the Kingdom and generations of young Moroccans born on foreign lands. This valuable generation rich in experience and “connections” will ultimately be the face of the MRE communities.
For now MRE remain alone in their quest to preserve some of their heritage and keep their children’s Moroccan identity alive. Munir El-Haddadi can hardly speak Moroccan, and thus he can’t relate to many aspects of his Moroccan identity.
Furthermore, second and third generation Moroccan immigrants tend to assimilate to their countries of birth rather than identify with their father’s homeland. This “normal” attitude makes the task of retaining the linkage to Morocco even harder. As Munir put it: “I never had doubts about playing for Spain. I was born here and am very happy to have done it. To play for Spain was my own decision. I knew what it meant to do so.”
The truth is that El-Haddadi parents left Morocco to find a better life in Spain. Morocco has done little for them and hardly anything for Munir, while Spain invested in his education and Barcelona empowered his soccer talent. The young star has every right to return the favor.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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