The Council of Moroccans Living Abroad, known by its French acronym as CCME received a delegation of ten Moroccan-Americans earlier this week in Rabat.
Rabat – The goal of this three-day visit was “to give effect in Morocco to the meeting of [CCMEin] Washington DC of last October,” reads a statement by CCME.
While CCME’s intention to engage members of the so-called Moroccan diaspora (i.e., Moroccans resident abroad) in all matters pertaining to their home country is a commended call for action, the actual process of this engagement lacks a clear strategy and suffers systematic impediments. Instead, the call for action remains selective at best, and consolidates the status quo of cronyism and inaction, at worse.
Diaspora engagement should involve engaging all Moroccans abroad not only a few hand-picked members of the community. The metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., for example, is home to thousands of skilled Moroccan and Moroccan-American leaders in different fields, but it is hardly the only place where Moroccan-Americans reside.
CCME and other public institutions should understand that the approximately 350,000 Moroccans resident in the USA (unofficial statistics) are scattered all over the country. All of them deserve representation and deserve to have their voices heard. What matters for Moroccan-Americans in D.C. does not necessarily matters for others in San Francisco, CA, Orlando, FL, Seattle, WA, Patterson, NJ, or Chicago, IL.
The Moroccan community abroad consists of a diverse array of sharp business owners, bright entrepreneurs, high-tech consultants, scholars, lawyers, and others who work in other sectors, such as taxi cab drivers, hotel managers, truck drivers, in addition to thousands of students.
Needless to say, these bright Moroccan men and women are being systematically neglected by CCME’s haphazard and selective programming, and explains why many people have a lack of trust in institutions that only deal with privileged groups, and have little faith in repetitive events that add no value to the community.
Unlike shuttle diplomacy, shuttle meetings such as the one that just took place to talk about insignificant issues are hardly what Moroccan-Americans need. Topics such as what the Constitution means to Moroccans abroad are outdated and less and less appealing at the present time. The issues of today that are relevant to the people’s day to day lives in their countries of residence are the rise of islamophobia, challenges of integration, language and identity, and ensuring voting rights in the home country. These issues are not tackled by delegations posing in front of cameras with smiling faces nor by taking selfies with public officials in the home country.
Eight years after the creation of CCME, MRE’s still have little to no knowledge about the mission, goals, objectives, plans and long term strategies of the council. Some did not even know about the October meeting in Washington, D.C. until after it took place. This only shows the lack of direction and purpose in engaging MRE’s with their own causes.
It remains mysterious under what criteria members of the council or even the delegation were selected and why there is no rotation of members to breathe new energy into the council and, therefore, add valuable input and diversity to its members and overall activities. Why does the council rely only on a team of privileged individuals, and what are the criteria to select one over the other? Is it based on friendship and common interests, cronyism and nepotism? Is it based on intellectual and organizational competence, or commitment and track record in community activism?
Questions such as these are raised time and time again due to the lack of transparency, secrecy, and ambiguity that characterize CCME activities. This state of affairs will jeopardize the reputation of this public institution and hinder its consultative work rendering it irrelevant and out of touch with the realities of the Moroccan diaspora.
How can this public institution organize events without making those who are the focal point of the discussions, the MRE’s, aware of them? The answers that come to mind immediately are the lack of structure, the absence of a media strategy to inform the tens of thousands of MREs all over the US and Canada. What is more egregious is the lack of intention to include others as long as officials in Rabat are satisfied with hearing from only a closed group from Washington, D.C.
In order to be effective, at a minimum, CCME needs to engage public relations and communications professionals who can establish an effective road map for the organization to reach out to the five million Moroccans worldwide. Moreover, CCME needs to put in place a strategy and a process to gather information from MRE professionals in North America. If there is no database of Moroccan lawyers, medical doctors, professors, etc. how can CCME advise the Moroccan government about a community it barely knows?
Eight years have passed and members of this council are still relying on outdated methods to reach out to the communities they claim to represent. Public advocacy and community activism cannot be effective by informing a diverse and geographically broad community of events merely by way of personal emails sent to one’s closest friends. Rather, it requires clarity of purpose and a basic understanding of today’s means of communication, including the importance of social media platforms, newspapers, and news websites, not to mention television and radio. To rely solely on word of mouth or on personal-email campaigns as a strategy to deal with the pressing issues of MRE’s will not enable CCME to fulfill its mission of serving the Moroccan community living abroad.
For CCME to be an effective representative, it must be transparent, share information, effectively communicate information to people it supposedly represents, and provide a platform to receive feedback from them. Without that, CCME cannot legitimately claim to represent the Moroccan diaspora.
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