By Yas Asraguis
By Yas Asraguis
London – What is it like to be a Moroccan expatriate? Is it just about having a green passport which opens from the left side or is it about having those brown eyes which force the police border to check you twice more than your white red passport friends?
Is it about being Muslim and therefore sharing a certain vision of Islam and its practices or essentially being good to yourself and others? Is it about speaking the Moroccan dialect or is it about reading Khalil Gabran in classical Arabic? Is it about being Arab, North-African, Berber, Muslim, Jewish or secular? But what if it was a bit of it all? Why should I have to choose between my love for Aznavour, David Bowie, Claude François and my love for derbukka, mint tea and orange blossom? As a twenty year old French-speaking Moroccan living in Britain, here is the time for me to examine how Morocco can be fully part of my identity without falling into an intimate cultural crackdown.
If lost in the disregardfor this immense city of London, as a Moroccan citizen, you can always go to your consulate – if not to renew your ID or passport, at least to feel remnants of home for a couple of minutes. A few meters away from the far-famed Paddington station, one finds the Moroccan flag, infamous Praed Street with its imposing red and green star. I am not one of those jingoists who suffer the manic symptom of lecturing people about the unconditional greatness of Morocco, yet, seeing my flag waving to the rhythm of the British rain seriously tickled my eyes.
Here I am entering the Moroccan Consulate in London for what was to be my best experience with the Moroccan administration. Believe it or not, one has to leave the homeland to actually see the highest level of Moroccan effectiveness. Not only are our London civil-servants professional and caring, but smiley, welcoming, understanding and funny: first class with honors Moroccans.
Welcomed by the portrait of King Mohammed VI and some traditional music on in the background, here I was, in the waiting room, ready to move my hips to the music of Moroccan bureaucracy. I have felt in the Moroccan consulate a similarity to when boarding with Royal Air Morocco – excited but full of doubts and uncertainties until the very end. Yet, I let myself go toward the offices of this consulate for better or for worse, in wealth or in poverty, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.
Yes, I was that proud Moroccan who was perversely enjoying seeing many non-European, non-Moroccan citizens asking us for visas. Also, since we have become one of the most secure countries worldwide- it is surely time for us to oblige more Western countries to apply for Moroccan visas. This would be the most legitimate way of reimbursing 45% of the Moroccan pride which has been over-consumed in Western Embassies and Police Borders for the past 50 years or so. Please Sir Mezouar, let’s start visa stamping Western passports with the image of our Kingdom and its capacity of keeping us both safe and tanned.
I came to believe that my land is special. There is a Moroccan exceptionalism that we need to cherish and be proud of. Our exceptionalism is our diversity; this very thing sets us apart both in the continent and in the Middle East. Only in a Moroccan setting can you see a Fessi laughing at a Northern person, both criticising Casaouites for their rogue accent whilst they all share some Berber blood.
For some reason, we transformed regional diversity into a unifying force. Being Moroccan is our common grounding and at no point do cultural differences, regional attachments and specific accents overlap with our national identity. So much that we are Moroccan and then Muslim, we are Moroccan and then Jewish, we are Moroccan and then Tangaoui. To be Moroccan, inherently involves a specific chromosome which makes you open-minded, adaptable to foreign lands and makes you acquainted with the outside world. As his Majesty Hassan II put it“Morocco islike a tree whose roots lie in Africa but whose leaves breathe in Europe”. To say true, only Parisians self-define themselves as Parisians before French.
Through respect, humour and consideration, Moroccans enjoy their specificities but never in opposition to what keeps us together. We are diverse; we recognize our own diversity and make it rich. The greatness of our country resides in its unwillingness to surrender its values and inter-religious living-together, even in times of darkness. We have faced a collaborationist protectorate, the rise of Islamic-conservatives, economic recessions, identity crisis, constitutional reforms and Sahara tensions, but here we are more solid and secure than ever before, still fighting for the best possible future for our children.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.