– I like the food from your country, especially Falafel and Kebab. Said my German colleague
– I like the food from your country too, especially Goulash*. I answered with irony
– When are you going to apply for french nationality ? Asked my school mate
– What’s wrong with mine ?
* Goulash is a Hungarian meal. It is as not German as Falafel isn’t Moroccan at all.
For my German colleague, as for many other Europeans I have met since I started living abroad, Morocco is seen as part of a uniform Arab World, speaking a unique language called Arabic, sharing the same desert land-nature, and eating the same Shawarma!
Fortunately for me, I was used to prejudices before going to Europe, as I moved during my college years from a small city to Casablanca, and there I discovered how narrow and “Casablanco-centric” people’s view about the rest of Morocco were. Some of my schoolmates even explained my academic success by “the absence of internet, TV, videogames and other distractions where I came from”. Then meeting west-centrist people in Europe was not that a shock for me.
Let’s try to jump back to this month’s topic, “What does it mean to be a Moroccan Abroad” I personally live it as a daily slalom with preconceived ideas. Other part of the meaning of to be moroccan abroad, can be described by the simplist confrontation West-Islam, as said in the topic “The Moroccan diaspora is a part of debates of recent years, often taking the side of Islam or the West, and sometimes feeling forced to choose sides. How does the choice affect both the host nation and Morocco?”. I feel like this is the question a westerner thinks I would be asking myself rather than a question I am really wondering about. Maybe I am not representative of “the average Joe” from the Moroccan Diaspora as I am living abroad just for my studies and have short-term projects of going back to morocco. Therefore, this piece cannot be considered as a serious essay, and will just talk about some preconceived ideas westerners can have about morocco, some can seem funny and are a subject for some really good jokes, but others can be source of less funny misunderstandings. In a nutshell, here are five of them:
1) In morocco, we don’t lapidate our women, neither excise our girls, so please you superficial women right advocats, when talking about such subject to me, do not feel embarrassed or start your sentence by “I know this may not shock you” or “I understand that this can be a taboo for you”.
2) Desert is an important part of Moroccan land, but most Moroccans live in the non-desert areas, for example, I came from a city where it can snow in the coldest days of winter. Sorry for you, I do not remember where my camel is hiding.
3) In your country, second and third generations of migrant children are very far from their parents’ original culture. They hold your nationality, went to your schools and watch your TV. Their origins may have some little influence on their culture, but their problems are due to the socio-economic context they are living in. Do not think I understand them more than you do just because “I look the same”.
4) Moroccans do not speak French with each other. Do not judge from some minority who graduated from French high schools in Morocco or some TV programs that represent just their makers.
5) When I wear trousers, I do not “behave like a westerner”, neither do I when I wash my hands with soap (a washing material the West discovered in Palestine during the crusades by the way).