By Majid Morcili
By Majid Morcili
San Francisco – The King of Morocco’s recent speech addressed issues of concern to Moroccans living abroad and their interactions with those who are supposed to serve them in foreign countries. While many in Moroccan communities abroad welcomed the speech and the steps taken immediately after, such as Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs order directing staff working in Moroccan consulates across the world to cut short their annual leave and return to work immediately, this is by no mean the end of the saga of the Moroccan diaspora.
To start with, it does not make any sense that consular staff takes off on vacation during the times they are needed the most. Most Moroccans living abroad make the trip back to their homeland during the summer time. The legitimate question asked by many is who’s going to help them when those who are paid to serve them are not around?
The biggest problem Moroccans face when dealing with consular staff is the lack of respect that they face, a fact the king mentioned it in his speech. For instance, trying to reach someone at the Moroccan consulate in New York is like playing the lottery. You may or may not be lucky to find someone to talk to.
The NY consular office’s business hours listed on its website are:
M-Th: 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM/ Friday: 9.00 AM to 1.00 PM and 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Why a 6-hour day when most offices in the U.S. are open for an 8-hour day?
Looking at the Family Book section on the website, one realizes that in order to obtain this famous book, you need to provide a Moroccan or Islamic Certificate. I know many Moroccans who are Muslims married in the U.S. in front of a U.S. judge and not in front of afqih, and therefore they cannot provide a Moroccan or Islamic marriage certificate. Thus, they cannot obtain the Family Book in order to register their children as Moroccans. The system is seriously flawed and needs to be remedied.
Let’s say you lost your Moroccan ID card and you want a replacement one. Unless you are fortunate enough to live near a consular office, you are out of luck. You are required to be present at the consulate even if you live 6,000 miles away. In the 21st century many processes, even in poor countries, are now done online. However, Morocco is decades away from reaching this level. The reason is very simple: those in charge, not only don’t care, but even if they did, they are not qualified to move Morocco forward.
In the U.S. and in many other countries around the world, to take care of your business, you just have to follow the rules and procedures that are already in place, such as filling out an application form, sending an email or making a phone call, and business is taken care of. You don’t have to beg anyone, or be the son of someone, nor does anyone need to intervene on your behalf. Your rights as a citizen and a taxpayer are respected.
Sometimes things do not work as intended but that is usually for reasons that have no relation with who you are or where you come from.
I would have liked the king to mention Royal Air Maroc (RAM) the Moroccan airline that has no respect for Moroccans, addressing everything from its exorbitant prices to the lack of hygiene on their planes. Many Moroccans now have no choice but to use other airlines to get to their destinations; a big loss for the company, which could use this money lost to other airlines on improving its customer service and the pay scale of its staff.
I would be fooling no one but myself if I didn’t bring up Moroccans living abroad themselves. I have seen many Moroccan travelers on Moroccan fights unleashing their children and going to sleep as if the plane were a supervised playground. I have witnessed the lack of respect from Moroccans within them. I will never forget when two Moroccan young adults took over the seats of two older Americans visiting Morocco for the first time to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and it took the entire flight crew to remove them. I never felt so embarrassed to be Moroccan until that horrible night I spoke to the older couple.
Until we modernize and democratize our judicial system, end corruption and cronyism, and adopt a work ethic that includes pride in our work, we will never succeed. Measures such as the one taken by the Foreign Ministry are merely a temporary fix. Until we hold our public servants responsible and accord them the tools and the respect they deserve, we are fooling ourselves to think that progress is on the horizon.
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