Citizenship in Morocco- Molly Mansfield

For the past few weeks, in between touring new cities and learning our way around Morocco, we have also been taking classes! In one of our two classes, we have been discussing the meaning of citizenship, both in the United States and Morocco. For our blog posts this week, we each interviewed a Moroccan citizen about their views on citizenship in Morocco, as well as their personal political and community engagement.

I chose to interview Muhamed, my Arabic language partner here in Fez. After working on my Darija for a few minutes, we started the interview. First, I asked him what citizenship, specifically Moroccan citizenship, meant to him.

He replied that it meant doing his duties to help his family, because through helping his own family, he believed he would also help others. He added that being a good citizen in Morocco means being polite, respecting all people, being “strict” with yourself, and being active in Muslim faith. I asked him to elaborate on that last point, since my experience of citizenship is very different and doesn’t involve active participation in any specific system of faith. He explained that he believes that embodying ideals and actively practicing Islam would lead someone to also embody traits of a good citizen.

Next, I asked him about his level of political involvement, including voting in elections, volunteering, or supporting specific political causes. Muhamed said that he had never voted and had no plans to in the future, because he believes that his vote will not change anything about the country. However, he did say that he would vote in another country if he were to move one day.

I asked if he had participated in any organizations, protests, or boycotts centered around changing aspects of society. I had heard that many people in Morocco were currently boycotting a brand of bottled water because of its high prices and brought this up to ask his thoughts. He said that while most people have goals for change in Morocco, he has not participated in any similar protests and didn’t plan to, because he doesn’t think that they are effective in bringing about change.

When asked if he was active in any community organizations revolving around religion, sports, service, work, culture, or any other topics, Muhamed told me that he is part of a community service club but isn’t very active. He said that he prefers to volunteer individually in his neighborhood.

Finally, I asked Muhamed about values in Moroccan society- which ones are important, which ones are lacking, and what he thinks needs to be changed in Moroccan society. The first value he brought up was respect, and how certain groups of people in Morocco- giving the example of the LGBT community- is often not treated with respect and faces violence in the country. I asked what he thought could be done about issues like these, he said that he thinks the government is doing a good job by helping them indirectly and “trying to be secular.” He said that although groups like women and the LGBT community face many issues, that the “law is on their side,” meaning that in the case of a crime, the law would protect victims. I asked if there were any other things Morocco could do to address such issues if the law was only partly sufficient, and he said that his English wasn’t good enough to express the other things he was trying to say on the topic.

Muhamed’s final thoughts on citizenship in Morocco were that “it you respect yourself you must respect others, and if you do those things it will reflect well on society.”

I really enjoyed speaking with Muhamed and it was really important to me to hear his thoughts on citizenship in the country I’ll be living in for the next month. I know that he had a lot of other things to say that his English didn’t allow for. I wasn’t too surprised by his answers. A lot of the Moroccans I have met have either been very optimistic about change in society or have more of an attitude that society is unlikely to change. Muhamed’s thoughts helped me start thinking more about citizenship in Morocco, and its differences and similarities to citizenship in the United States.


2 comments to Citizenship in Morocco- Molly Mansfield

  • ماكس

    It’s encouraging to hear about how engaged Muhammad is in his community and country, though I wish the election process in Morocco was more transparent and equitable so young people would be encouraged to vote.

  • Auntie Salley

    Wow! Muhamed sounds like a melody! Can’t believe you are getting to see such different perspectives on citizenship, it sounds like these concepts can be applied across the world!

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