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Cablegate: Diaspora Engagement Morocco

VZCZCXYZ0003
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRB #0782/01 2601547
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171547Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0666

UNCLAS RABAT 000782

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG, S/GPI M. KAREN WALKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP BTIO EAID OEXC OIIP PGOV PHUM PREL SCUL SMIG
TSPL, EINV, MO
SUBJECT: DIASPORA ENGAGEMENT MOROCCO

REF: A STATE 86401
B CASABLANCA 144 (NOTAL)

1. Summary. Far-flung and fluid, the Moroccan diaspora stretches
throughout Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, throughout the Middle
East and North Africa (notably in Israel), and beyond. Some
diasporans are recent immigrants to their adoptive country; others
are second- or third-generation. Their occupations vary, and most
preserve ties to their home country. Moroccans maintain virtual
ties as well, taking advantage of web-based technologies to share
experiences, seek relationships, and exchange ideas. The Moroccan
government has established specific offices and organizations to
engage the diaspora community. Moroccans living abroad engage in a
variety of ways with their countrymen in Morocco, although they have
not as yet been mobilized to undertake any large-scale relief or
support efforts. End summary.

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Community and Collaboration
---------------------------

2. The Moroccan diaspora (locally referred to as MREs, for
"Marocains residents a l'etranger") is an identifiable community,
and the nature of its connection to the homeland is diverse. There
are large Moroccan communities in several Western European countries
- notably France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy - as well as in
Canada and the United States. Moroccans also live throughout the
MENA region, most notably in Israel, where approximately one million
citizens (about 15% of the population) claim Moroccan ancestry,
representing a key link between Israel and the Arab World.
Moroccans residing abroad do so for a variety of reasons. Most
maintain ties to Morocco, and a large number return occasionally to
spend time with kith and kin. The U.S. Consulate General in
Casablanca issues approximately 3,000 diversity visas each year, in
addition to approximately 45,000 visitor visas, indicating that
there is considerable interest among Moroccans in maintaining or
developing ties with the United States.

3. Moroccans residing abroad have a long tradition of remittances
(ref B), with isolated instances of fund-raising abroad among
expatriate Moroccans from the same village to support small-scale
infrastructure projects back home. The Government of Morocco is
concerned about the well-being of Moroccans residing abroad, and it
has established structures and strategies, described below, to
support them and to support the preservation of Moroccan cultural,
linguistic, and religious identity.

4. The Moroccan Government is deeply concerned that some MREs living
in Western Europe are promoting radical Islamist ideology in
Morocco. Socio-economic conditions in parts of Morocco make certain
segments of the population more susceptible to radicalizing efforts.
Diaspora engagement that encourages the strengthening of economic
ties with the goal of ameliorating difficult economic conditions and
strengthening community linkages can contribute to national and
international security and stability. In this regard, USG
counter-radicalization efforts with diaspora communities in Western
Europe (Embassy Paris, for example, has targeted underprivileged
immigrant communities in France to recruit participants for its
International Visitor Leadership Program) could serve to weaken the
pull of radical ideology. The GOM is active in this regard, sending
imams trained in Morocco to minister to diaspora communities in
Western Europe, seeking to counter the influence of Wahhabi clerics
by promoting an alternative, moderate and authentically Moroccan
trend of Islam.

5. The Embassy's Public Affairs Section administers the
International Visitor Program and collaborates with the Moroccan
American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange on the
Fulbright and other academic exchange programs. PAS has also
organized several television cooperatives with local networks
focused on the lives and attitudes of the Moroccan diaspora
community in the U.S. With these and other programs
well-established and widely-popular in Morocco, the framework is in
place to engage the Moroccan diaspora in the United States and
foster further institutional affiliations with academic and
professional communities across the Atlantic.

6. Post will continue to reach out to government agencies and
non-governmental organizations in Morocco in order to broaden
insight into their relationships with Moroccans abroad. Post
welcomes feedback on Washington-based efforts to expand the
knowledge base about the Moroccan diaspora in the United States.
Among valuable knowledge management tools would be detailed
socio-economic data on Moroccans resident in the US, to include
information on their respective "home town" in Morocco, which would
enable targeted outreach to the cities and villages that provide
significant numbers of immigrants to the United States. Properly
resourced, outreach to the Moroccan diaspora in the US can marshal
the connections they maintain with family, friends, and colleagues
in Morocco in an effort to advance US objectives overseas.
7. Post looks forward to working with S/GPI in advancing this
important endeavor. Point of contact for future reference and
follow-up is Brian Shott, Deputy Political Counselor.

------------------------
Institutional Structures
------------------------

8. There are several organizations based in Morocco and abroad that
engage the Moroccan diaspora. At the governmental level, primary
among these is the office of the Minster Delegate to the Prime
Minister for Affairs Concerning Moroccans Residing Abroad. The
current Minister Delegate is Mohammad Ameur, and underpinning the
work of the office are three main principles: defense of the
interests of Moroccan nationals wherever they are; preservation of
national linguistic, religious, and cultural identity; and active
incorporation of Moroccan nationals living abroad into the human,
economic, and social development of Morocco.

9. The Hassan II Foundation for Moroccans Residing Abroad was
established in 1990; its current president is Princess Lalla Meryem,
daughter of the late King Hassan II. The Foundation is comprised of
six operational units: Education, Cultural Exchanges, Sport, and
Youth; Legal Assistance; Social Assistance; Economic Development;
Cooperation and Partnership; and Communication. The Foundation
works through a variety of programs; more information is available
(in French) at http://www.alwatan.ma.

10. The Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) was created
by royal decree in December 2007. It consists of 50 members serving
four-year terms, and is charged with developing policy
recommendations regarding emigration for the King. The CCME
recently completed a survey of nearly 3000 Moroccans residing in
various European countries; according to the results, three-quarters
of Moroccans living abroad return annually to Morocco. As many as
60% of the respondents say they transfer money back to Morocco,
either directly to individuals or their families, or in the form of
support for a village project.

11. The High Atlas Foundation, founded by a former Peace Corps
volunteer, maintains offices in both Morocco and the United States.
It hosted an Iftar dinner in New York on September 16 to help raise
money to advance the Foundation's "One Million Tree Campaign," which
was launched in 2006 and has to-date planted over 140,000 fruit
trees in Morocco.

12. Several U.S.-based organizations engage the Moroccan diaspora in
the United States; among them are the Association of Moroccan
Professionals in America, the Moroccan American Center for Policy,
the Moroccan Foundation, the American-Moroccan Institute, Friends of
Morocco, and the Moroccan American Coalition. Post received an
invitation to the Coalition's fourth annual convention, to be held
in Washington, DC in October. The theme of the convention is
"Connect, Inspire, Grow," and the program envisions guest speakers
from both sides of the Atlantic.

-------------------------------
Culture and Commensal Tradition
-------------------------------

13. Nearly all Moroccans are Muslims, and with the Islamic holy
month of Ramadan underway (August 22-o/a September 20) most of them
fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking it with a ritualized meal
called Iftar. For most Moroccans the traditional meal includes
dates, a lentil stew called "harira," and an assortment of sweet and
savory pastries. Standard fare in homes and some
restaurants-including at "T.G.I Friday's" and McDonald's-the
contents of the Iftar meal is considered uniquely Moroccan. As
reported by the Moroccan news agency MAP, Moroccans living in the
United States view Ramadan as an opportunity to stay attuned to
their country of origin and to revive the traditions that marked
Ramadan back home as they seek the "must have" Moroccan
specialties.

-----------------
Virtual Community
-----------------

14. The MoroccoBoard News Service (http://www.moroccoboard.com)
houses information about the Moroccan diaspora in the United States
and about Morocco-related events. The site includes a section
urging Moroccan Americans to participate in the 2010 U.S. Census and
providing brief background information about the census and its
purpose, which suggests that site managers consider it important to
help educate Moroccan-Americans and promote their inclusion in U.S.
social and political processes.

15. Another rich website is MoroccoUSA.com
(http://www.moroccousa.com). Based in Chicago, the site's expressed
mission is to serve the Moroccan community in the US and abroad. It
boasts over 14,000 subscribed members and features links to a range
of resources, on-line discussion forums, advertisements, and other
information.

Millard

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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