to Europe of the Twelve Countries
and the Issue of Cultural Identity
By Dr. Abbes Jirari
A Presentation to the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco in its second session for the year 1992.
23-24-25 Jumada I 1413 A.H Corresponding to 19-20-21 November 1992 B.C in Rabat - Morocco
First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my fellow officials who provided me with reports and statistical notes which helped me undertake the study of the subject in question. To mention but a few: Mr Rafiq Alhaddawi, the Deputy Minister for Moroccan Immigrants’ Affairs Abroad; Mr.Ahmed Aklal, Secretary General at the Ministry of Employment; Mr. Hassan Al Oufir, Secretary General at the Ministry of Justice and Abdassamad Alhajwi, Inspector at the Ministry.
Then, I would like to point out the paramount importance of this study which rises from the fact that it deals with the issue of Moroccan immigration to Europe as a phenomenon that characterizes the reality of both the Moroccan and the European society. This phenomenon governs the established links between these two societies. For it raises many complicated issues at the top of which is the issue of identity.
In order to cover the various sides of this issue, I suggest that we start with a clarification of the concepts of the terms:’ Identity’ and ‘immigration’ and the levels of their relation. Then I will discuss the reality of Moroccan immigrants to Europe and analyse the fundamental conflict from which they suffer as they oscillate between the desire to integrate in the environments into which they have moved and the desire to preserve their identity to which they cling. Then I will shift to highlight the role of the two parties involved: The Moroccan who endeavours with embryonic efforts to attenuate the intensity of this conflict and to ward off its adverse effects on the one hand, and the European, who I think should reconsider his attitude in light of the factors of cultural openness for the benefit of coexistence. Finally I conclude that without this reconsideration these two parties will be subject to deterioration, which may affect all the Mediterranean Basin.
Identity is the self and awareness of it. It means the well-established existence of the self, all the necessary components and properties that constitute it, distinguish it and make it a unique reality which has an identity and a manifestation. This identity and this manifestation make the individual predisposed to a full equation in which he is refered to as himself.
When identity is related to and is qualified by culture, it transcends the fact that man is a human being with specific moral ethics into the fact that he can choose his own social way of life in which he lives for himself side by side with his peers, by virtue of the spiritual and mental potentialities with which he is endowed. Whereas in case he is compelled by his instinct to make this choice, the qualifications he acquires by virtue of his humanity and his acquired knowledge, experience and expertise allow him to bestow upon his persence features that distinguish its thought and mentality, determine its individual and collective conduct, control its acts, relationships and reactions. These features also highlight its role and value and give him a reference that ultimately distinguishes him. It is this reference to which he has recourse and with which he is well-known when he is in his country or when he is compelled to immigrate.
From a social viewpoint, immigration in itself is an old human phenomenon that controls the course of history. In fact, it is on the exchange of immigration that rely the progress of societies civilizations and cultures. Throughout history, the exchange of immigration between Moroccans on the one hand and the European countries in the north starting from Andalusia and the African countries in the South on the other stands in evidence of the deep-rootedness and major influence of this phenomenon. Islam, the religion of all the immigrants in question, have a positive attitude towards this phenomenon and its motives. In reference to the Sherifian prophetic Hadith produced by Islam Albukhary and Muslims according to Omar Ibn Alkhatab: ‘Allah’s messenger PBUH fixed three objectives that guide the immigrant. He said: ‘Every deed has an intention, and each one of us will obtain what he intends to do. Those who immigrated for God and his prophet will immigrate for God and his prophet; those who immigrate for the earthly life or a woman to marry will achieve what they immigrate for.’
The holy Qur’an has made reference to the rank granted by Allah to those who emigrate in pursuit of a decent job or gain. In fact, he made them equal to the Mujahidin who fight for his sake. God Almighty said in the eighteen verse at the end of Surat ALMUZAMEL In reference to the reasons behind reducing the night worship as an aspect of worshipping God and a feature of Moslem’s identity. He said:
‘Read ye, therefore, of the Qur’an as much as may be easy for you. He knoweth that there may be some among you in ill-health; others travelling through the land, seeking of God’s bounty; yet others fighting in God’s cause.’ (The holy Qur’an, Translation and Commentary: A.Yusuf Ali, Amana, 1983)
There are cases where immigration can be voluntary and it can be sometimes mandatory, unilateral, exchanged, temporary or can ultimately contribute to the final stability which is made the basis of the concept of immigration by many legal legislations. In all cases, it raises a paradox about identity which diffuses theoretical hypotheses which can be summed up in the following four points:
First: The immigrant’s preaching and dissemination of his identity among the other who came to share with him life and place. This cannot be achieved if identity in itself and its holders are unable of persuasion and infiltration and if the host country is not ready to accept it and accept its holders beforehand.
Second: Preservation of identity, maintainance of its authenticity, developing the self within its components, and coexisting with the host country’s identity without any intermingling or influence between them, if it were not for what is unintentionally and spontaneously absorbed. This entails that the two parties must have a strong solitary tendency, a capacity for adherence to themselves, confidence in the other and respect for his identity together with this predisposition to coexist within a unified and integral entity.
Third: Fusion in the other’s identity or its reincarnation. This occurs in case the immigrant is weak and ready to reject its identity-even partially or ostensibly-and to fuse in the self of the host country which, by virtue of its superiority, is able to contain the new comer.
Fourth: Refusing to integrate the immigrant, because he is not accepted as part of the entity and obstructing the process of preserving his identity to which he clings. In addition, obstructing his benefit from his identity and his flourishing inside it. Meanwhile, the party which refuses it, benefits from him, exploits him and depletes his efforts and powers. This results in a struggle that leads to a split affecting the refused side. It does not take so long for this split to affect the party which caused it.
When one ponders over these virtual levels, one would immediately conclude that the last condition is the one that reflects the reality of the Moroccan immigrants to Europe. This raises the question of the credibility of this reality to know the factors of strain and grasp the most critical aspects of rupture in it as crystallized in the oscillation between the preservation of the self and integration in the other. The first thing that grabs the researcher’s attention in the affairs of Moroccan who are in the member countries of the European Economic Community is their huge number which reached 1.343.000 in 1991, according to the census of the Moroccan authority in charge compared to the Moroccan immigrants who go to other European countries, to America, Australia and Maghreb Arab countries or other Arab and African countries. The latter’s number reached 301.590 according to the abovementioned census. These figures will surely rise dramatically if stowaways were taken into account despite the pitfalls of their adventures, especially after the stringent directives his Majesty the late king gave to all concerned officials in a meeting held at 9th Rabii II 1413 A.H. Corresponding to 7th October 1992 B.C.
It is sufficient, in order to draw more attention to this situation, to highlight immigration and its growing rate since the second decade of this century, for the number of Moroccan immigrants to France during the first World War did not exceed 20.000. With the outbreak of the second World War, It was expected to rise until about 100.000 knowing that during the protectorate period French decrees and Sherifian Dahirs used to be issued to regulate this immigration as has been stated by Mr. Mohammed El Khedari El Idrissi in the introduction of his thesis: “The International Situation of Moroccan Workers Abroad” presented to the Faculty of Law in the Nancy University in Nov 1988.
According to a report entitled “ l’Emigration Marocaine: Données Statistiques de Base/Moroccan Emigration: Basic Statistical Data”on the Moroccan immigration issued in 1986 from the “International Labor Office: Office International Du Travail” in Geneva relying on statistical data, the increase in the number of immigrants to France exceeds that of others. It was estimated between 1975 and 1982 at 65.8% against that of foreign immigrants 6.9% and that of Algerian immigrants 12% and that of Tunisians 35.5%. The report attributes this to family conglomeration and a rising birth rate. In addition, half the number of expatriated Moroccans in Europe are below 25 years and the female rate in comparison with males reached in France 38.5%. The overall reason behind expatriation is obvious. It is for all those immigrants due to unemployment and having a prospect for better conditions and fleeing a reality that does not help them achieve their aspiration. In this, there is no difference between the sweeping majority represented in the simple working class and a limited minority represented in high cadres: Doctors, engineers, University teachers, researchers and other immigrating brains. This raises a big thorny issue that needs a detailed and profound analysis. We cannot broach it because of the time constraint. Yet it was mentioned in the above-mentioned report that half the Moroccan immigrants to France are not competent and that 1% represent the educated cadres. Because of the time constraint we cannot also discuss the problem of millions of students seeking formation and studies hopefully to embark on a better job opportunity either within or without their homeland.
If some categories of youngsters enjoy a legal status and a stable job and others remain jobless or doing only part-time jobs despite a settled status; others are considered as illegal immigrants working full time or part-time or still look for a job given that the number of unemployed among Moroccan immigrants to France, for example, reached 15.2% in 1982 according to the above-mentioned report and that it is expected to rise steadily till 2010. Furthermore, this illegal immigration came, in its turn, to be organized by some bodies that exploit it. This is not surprising since the homeland encourages immigration to attenuate the intensity of unemployment and look for hard currency, another reason being that the market is seeking workers who can be overworked and given arduous, demeaning jobs refused by the citizens. These include: working in mines, dunghills and heavy industries. This exposes them to work illnesses, the effects of which are immediate or emerge as they grow old. These markets give immigrants only low salaries and do not give them pensions granted to foreign collaborators. They rather wangle immigrants through various means to prevent them from getting the same rights as legitimately granted by the workers’ union and social insurance to the national workers. Immigrants are enmeshed in this morass because of their poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness and the threat of expulsion which looms large every now and then. Moreover, they are best with social evils which depend on their conditions: Whether they were single or married. Some of these immigrants leave their dependents in their homeland, others take them with them. This engenders disturbance and worry suffered by children, especially those under school age. The mother is not excepted from this, namely the working mother. She finds herself in contact with a reality which is dramatically opposed to her mentality and habits. Her situation is even exacerbated when her husband abandons her to marry one of those immigrating girls, then the mother is often left in a suspended case. As for single men, some of them marry a European girl legitimately whereas others are obliged to contract a formal or a “putative” marriage only to have their situation settled out. Another purpose is the desire to be provided with conditions of stability or ensure their future overseas. This may be the last resort for Moroccan girls who marry European men. These Moroccan girls often belong to the second generation which fall -together with the following generations- within a special scope of suffering that will be made clear as we tackle this problem. This wretched reality, which generates family rupture and clashes, is worsened by the alienated accommodation confined to slums in the suburbs or districts that do not provide at all an accommodation like their original home they left in the village or the open tent of the countryside. This alienated lodging is not equiped with the simplest urban life facilities which are found in industrial areas. It represents only a European way of life instead. This is the start of their inferiority complex and an aspect of psychological struggle. For their existence there makes them permanently subject to humiliation and fear to be looked down on as a disgrace and a nuisance.
Whether in the case of Moroccans or others, immigration as such leads a little variedly to rupture, severing ties and extermination of roots. True, because the immigrant finds himself in a material and social circle that is totally different from the one he is accustomed to. In this circle, he becomes obliged to work, live: eat, wear, speak and deal with people. In other words, he becomes obliged to live in a new society which is even strange for him. Thus, he is obliged to learn the requirements of this new life: language, principles, values, customs, lore and conduct.
The split widens when it comes to an Arab Moslem who is less ready to integrate than his European counterparts because of the difference in language, religion, and culture. This is even worse in the case of a Moroccan immigrant who moves from a traditional environment which has its well-established customs and deep-rooted principles to another more advanced, coarse environment which is, at best, devoid of arab customs and lore. This environment follows a system that he cannot even understand, let alone swallow it and integrate in it, starting from language which he often ignores. Even when he tries to learn it, he does not go beyond a level that serves him at work. Thus, he remains confined to the scope of several words and expressions which do not earn him a new language. At the same time, he stays unable to teach it to his children.
This bitter reality is inflated by the attitude of the European societies that consider the immigrant as a working machine and not as a human being. This human being needs to satiate his material and moral needs. The European society faces him with violence, injustice and marginalization. Besides, it prevents him from the means of integration and self-realization. The intensity of this situation is at its peak when it is reinforced by the extremist right trends, which do not conceal their fanatic racist attitudes.
The immigrant, in any profession he has the chance to practice -even in the highest positions like doctors, teachers- Continously suffers because of the following two factors:
First: He is a foreigner
Second: He is simply a hire
Thus, he is convinced and content with the fact that he is inferior and this obliges him to perform his duty as he is told. There is a great ban on him so as not to let him establish the simplest aspect of his personality or practice the first instinct of his freedom. This feeling undoubtedly grows in as much as the level of education and awareness rises.
This destitution makes the immigrant feel the weakness of his existence in front of the other. Therefore, he clings to him because he needs him and reluctantly swallows all the inferiority complexes. Hence, the immigrant tries to imitate the other even in just what preserves that weak existence and protects him from the others reaction. In case the immigrant is aware, this psychgological stuggle may shake his entity and the image of his identity. Whereas in case he is unaware, the process is imposed with all its potential repercussions. In this case, it may even bring prejudice to what is latent and deep-rooted inside us, which is the creed, the values and the principles.
In reality, the Moroccan immigrant reflects, in himself, in his thoughts and behaviour, the image of rupture which he suffers from. For he is not ready to live in harmony with this rupture nor is he able to integrate in it. Besides, he is refused even if he may be ready or able to do so.
Integration is possible only when the immigrant is accepted in the host society with his identity and the conditions of peaceful coexistence. This should start from language which allows him to read, listen to the radio, watch T.V. and go to the movies and the theather. Most important of all is to interweave close relationships with those he shares life with in society.
If this is the case for old immigrants, what about the second or the third generation? What is striking is the growing number of these generations- as we have already mentioned. This is due to the great birth rate ensuing from contracting one or more marriages for the sake of getting more allowances. This situation applies even to an immigrant who marries a European girl. The latter wants, in her turn, to have children in order to obtain benefits accruing from her situation as a mother or housewife.
These growing figures lead to numerous problems. These problems may look alike sometimes and may differ at other times from males to females, namely the problems of education, relationships and the desire for freedom and assertion of personality. This keeps them in constant conflict with their souls which is inclined to departure, with their family which tries to keep them clung to their roots and with society which treats them resentfully if not with great prudence. Yet they refuse to be considered as immigrant or to be in the heels of their parents. Immigrants would rather integrate in society in order to solve their problems if it were not for few immigrants who would cling to their nation. Thus, they raise the twin issues of work and identity despite the special status that they acquired within the legal framework resulting from their birth in that foreign country and obtaining its nationality. Concerning birth, it generates first of all the problem of registration of the name. Indeed, there may be guidance about it or a direct intervention in choosing it outside the scope of identity coupled with the ensuing rearing up and education. As for the nationality which he needs to settle his situation, it is granted to him only within a limited framework. An onsite study carried out by the Arab institution for employment in the summer of 1988 on 197 youngsters and published in Tangier in January 1989 under the title “ the Situation of Immigrants from the Maghreb Arab Countries in France” pointed out that among the second generation in France there was 2,5% of those with a French nationality against 91.9% of those with a Moroccan nationality and 5.6% of those with a double nationality.
Nevertheless, even if the nationality was legally acquired, it would not be sufficient for integration to be achieved because it always stays hampered by cultural, psychological and religious factors as well as the same racist impediment that faced their parents. Through this racist impediment, they are looked at with great prudence. For they become entitled to a right which enables them to infiltrate from the gut. This makes them more dangerous than the immigrants who preserve their nationality especially that they have access to education unlike their parents because they are more aware of that predicament than their parents.
However, this local education is not actually accessible to all. In the above-mentioned report by the International Office, statistics undertaken by the French Ministry of Education on the scholar year 85-84 revealed that 37.2% of all the two-year-old immigrants’ children are registered in kindergartens and that 84% of all those aged three years go to school. In addition, one out of four pupils goes to secondary schools and one out of ten to high schools.
Besides, this education, if allowed, is hindered out of lack of equipment and shortage in the means of follow up, and also because of the tardiness from the overall level of education despite some attempts for compensation. Furthermore, education is not related to Arabic nor to the national culture and Islamic thought. It is further characterized by separtion of religion and state which may in most cases take in the immigrating student. As a counter reaction, this education can drive him to submission to the current of religious extremism which finds in the immigrant a breeding ground for these factors. With such dimensions, education imposes one option; that of integration in the European Society. Yet this integration is not realized because of the aforementioned reasons especially when the immigrating student is considered as weak, underdeveloped, inherently undisciplined and not predisposed for education.
With the elapse of time, the second and the third generations may overcome the problems caused by integration which their grand children will undoubtedly realize. The grand children’s authentic origin will remain a mere mark in their memory. This mark can be seen only by those who dig in search for it. However, they are now living a major conflict which have ensued from the circumstances of the present reality that they refuse. This conflict is also the result of their fear to remain a bequest left by their parents and also a result of their desire to be similar to their European counterparts and to catch up with them. This is impossible because of the social and intellectual situation and the ensuing inequality. This is also due to the foreign presence itself and belonging to a world qualified as underdeveloped. When some of these generations aspire to preserving their authentic identity they find it difficult to strike a balance.
Even when these rising generations are brought up in a sound and balanced environment, they are holding an attitude towards what is existent, having an aspiration to realize ambitions, and a desire to operate a change for assertion of existence and role. How about an up-bringing which is characterized by tension, conflict and split which generates only the feeling of weakness, inability to make a choice between whether to integrate or adhere to one’s identity? This situation urges immigrants to gather and join bodies, organs that rely on the immigrant’s conditions to denounce these countries’ policies, denigrate racism, and call for human rights. This situation may lead immigrants to a loss and search for a covered outlet away from family. This outlet is manifested in refusing reality and rebellion against it, and falling in the dangers of sexual deviation, drug abuse, and suspicious operations.
Whether in this case which is the worst predicament in which the immigrant can fall or in any other case resulting from rupture lived by the Moroccan immigrants in Europe, identity preserves some degree of existence. This degree of existence ranges between a sturdy bond as it is the case for the first groups and a shift into a mere fine link that cannot attach the rising generations. The reason is that numerous deeply-rooted constituents govern the constitution of identity. These constituents are intertwined and have mutual influence until they spill together a the melting pot. These can be summed up in the following four constituents:
1. Religion: Islam without any rival
2. Language: Arabic and the various local dialects
3. Heritage in its broad and comprehensive meaning, especially popular meaning
4. Environment as natural and human elements which interact with each other in the one hand and with the other components on the other to determine the mentality which is one of the synthetic aspect of identity.
Although our immigrants belong to various and numerous environments thus enriching their nations with their properties, they all meet in the broadness of the Moroccan mentality. In one of my previous studies on the subject, I have summed up the features of this mentality in the following characteristics:
1. A tendency towards stability unless necessity dictates otherwise, even in some southern regions where the desert imposed a nomadic way of life prior to the liberation and development of these regions.
2. Strong self-satisfaction and desire for openness and ability to do so in full awareness of the necessity to correlate, complement the other, join him and cooperate with him.
3. Love for freedom and refusal of submission to any power whatsoever and a strong ability for patience and forbearance.
4. To confront life and cope up with its upheavals and face up its challenges with a practical and logical sense and readiness to make trenchant decisions.
5. A tendency to moderation in behaviour and decisions unless something calls for intensity and extremism.
Through all this, identity develops as a characteristic or a set of characteristics that gather the individuals and the communities.
This characteristic is accompanying them in all their conditions and marks their various categories although some individuals and communities realize personal superiority that distinguishes them from others. Whereas others lag behind because of personal or general circumstances. Individuals and communities may be satisfied with this characteristic or criticizing some or all of its sides. With such dimensions, identity is not only one of the universally acknowledged human rights but is also a pure prerogative of the person. No one -whomever and whatever its motives- can interfere in it, bring prejudice to it, or control it. Let alone obstruct its emergence or the manifestation of the aspects that it diffuses. Any attempts in this direction is a frustration to that person’s being and a constraint to his humanity - whatever is the justification.
It is true that the immigrant voluntarily and spontaneously pledges his freedom and prospective perspective for gaining his living, that is, in its turn, conditioned upon a part time job-whether it is a simple manual job, a demanding and a technical one or a job that requires a high level of training and expertise. Thence, his identity must be provided with the appropriate psychological and intellectual circumstances. This allows it not only to emerge stealthily and shyly but to flourish and radiate with the immigrant-whatever the conditions of his work and salary.
In this context, we should not deduce that identity is inanimate or a tight world as may be deemed by some short-sighted people who limit their considerations to the established values and to certain aspects, relying on its components, identity is a continuously animate and open field that can be developed and updated according to the changes that society features. It can also be adjusted to the requirements of time and place without loosing its specificities and distinctive features, whether this context of time and place is sane or is in crisis, and whether this crisis is due to local factors such as those imposed by immigration or related to the reality of suffering of the self in the mother country. In a parallel way, and with such features, identity is deeply rooted in the bleak past and its latent principles and values. At the same time it is exposed to the present influences. Identity is further aspiring to horizons of the immediate and distant future. It is also responsive to the aspirations of its holders and those contributing to it by giving and enriching it. In any case, it stays a latent power which has an endless capacity for adjusting their opinion, directing their conducts, defining their trends and providing them with immunity. This should spontaneously protect them from enemies in their countries or abroad. Perhaps the latter are more eager to what binds them to their country of origin and to their roots there.
The Moroccan immigrants’ adherence to their nation and their expression of that adherence through various means stands in witness thereof. I don’t mean, thereby, the continuous nostalgia and feeling of alienation which overwhelms them as they struggle inside their conscience against the predominance of their reality and such hidden elements of attachment. What I mean here is some of the concrete aspects through which they display this attachment and unveil what is hidden. Some of these aspects have permanent and repeated opportunities to appear whereas other aspects are connected to sporadic seasonal events. Regarding the last aspects, it is sufficient to refer to the number of those who participated in the referendum on the draft reform of the constitution on 5-6 Sept 1992.
Although this event coincided with the immigrants’ holidays and return to Morocco, the number of those who performed this national duty was 217.317 according to the statistics presented by various Moroccan consulates in Europe which served as polling stations. As for the repeated opportunities, these are mainly the return of immigrants to their homeland in great numbers to spend their summer holidays. According to a report by the Ministry of Moroccan immigrants Abroad, the number of immigrants in 91 amounted to 570.970 visitor. Another census by the same Ministry on the transit of immigrants during the summer of 92 revealed that the number of immigrants who came back in that season amounted to 764.163 visitor during the period from 1-6 Sept 1992.
For the promotion of the circumstances of the transit operation, there are facilities at the level of the procedures of the transit and customs control which are no less than those dedicated to the immigrants who return for good. However, these facilities are insufficient especially in case of external emergencies hindering the return of immigrants from all over Europe to their homeland at the right time. This is exactly what happened in the summer of 92 because of the circumstances of the roads in France due to the lorry strike and the Olympic games in Barcelona, and the establishment of the world fair in Cecily. We should not forget the competition between the Moroccan and the Spanish maritime lines and the treatment which the immigrants were subject to because of this competition. This summer Spain’s transit companies have indeed witnessed a strike which greatly increased pressure. We should also bear in mind the treatment of immigrants in ports and border spots and the transit posts. The simplest aspect of this treatment is the obligation to pay bribes and consumption expenses as a way of exploiting them.
Another strong proof of the adherence of Moroccan immigrants to their aspiration to return definitively to settle down in it is the fact that they syphoned part of their income to their country. The aforementioned study carried out by the Arab institution for employment in the summer of 88 revealed that the rate among 565 old immigrants who siphon a portion of their salary to Morocco varies as follows:
- 19.3% siphon less than a quarter of their income
- 38.5% siphon between half and three quarters
- 8.3% siphon more than three quarters
By so doing, the above mentioned immigrants, and others hope to invest their savings in various national sectors: Agriculture, industry, tourism and other sectors of local development. A report by the Ministry of the Community Affairs revealed that the files submitted to it in this regard exceed 150. Besides this wish to invest, they are desirous of appropriating an accommodation in their countries of origin. For the realization of this purpose, the Ministry itself made every effort until the responsible authorities allocated 10% of all the divided residential plots for members of the community. This raises the question of the definitive return and the suffering it creates to immigrants. For they don’t relish this idea until they feel they have achieved some of what they immigrated for; in other words, what affords that accommodation and investment. They are also overwhelmed by psychological anxiety which besets them as they shudder at the thought of caution and prudence they may be subject to in their society of origin when they renew their integration in it.
Nevertheless, according to the same source, the number of those who immigrated and did not return to their homeland in the summer of 91 amounted to 5.597 immigrant. This figure is highly symbolic at this point, especially when it comes to those who had stable jobs. As for those with unstable jobs or those compelled by some circumstances to a temporary return to their homeland even though their working period is not over yet, their anxiety is even exacerbated. For they shudder at the thought of unemployment and a meagre salary in Morocco. They further shudder at the feeling of becoming a potential burden with no importance in their country.
This concerns the old immigrants. As for the rising or the young immigrants, they tend to be detached from their identity definitively, if not gradually. In fact, they invest money -If they have any- only abroad and when they visit their country during the holidays or on occasions, they are overwhelmed by the feeling of detachment. Besides, they are not really connected to identity only through the Europeans’ continuous recalling that they are foreigners and underdeveloped. This treatment results in a latent feeling of the need to cling to something that stands as a life boat to which clings the struggling drowned. The Moroccan literature written in the European languages could have been another way of transmitting the features of this identity to the immigrants’ children and to the Europeans themselves by showing its true values and established realities. Unfortunately, the scope of this literature is limited, shaky and defective.
Such a situation necessitates an existence for identity which incites and urges for adherence to it and taking pride in it. This existence cannot be achieved without the distinction between the necessary and the optional, the genuine and the fake, the deeply rooted and the casual while conciliating between the value of the national identity and the European social structure where the immigrants exist.
If this happens, the most outstanding features of this identity would be preserved. It would rather be developed and updated in conformity with the new environment; otherwise the individual would reject this identity or some of its constituents willingly and reluctantly at once. That is, even for those who pretend to preserve it simply by practicing some its formalities.
Languages come at the top of these fundamentals. In a study conducted by the aforementioned institution, it was stated that an onsite research carried our on 197 children revealed that those who speak Arabic oscillate, in various proportions, between good, average and bad in “conversation, reading and writing” as follows:
Meanwhile, in another census it was stated that, among these, the rate of those who want to learn Arabic even though they speak it is estimated at 81.1% against 86.6% of those who do not speak it. As to those who refuse to learn it, it is estimated at 18.8% of those who do not speak it and 13.3% of those who speak it.
The attitude of the second generation towards Arabic is confirmed even in its use as a means of education and distraction. An opinion poll conducted by this study on the same youngsters suggest that the percentage of those who accept and refuse this use varies according to fields as follows:
MUSIC AND SONGS
RADIO AND TV
From such examples endorsed by approximate figures and in the absence of detailed and exact statistics, one may deduce that the issue of identity is highly complicated. The responsibility of confronting this issue falls on two sides. The Moroccan and the European side in their capacity as authorities and societies. Each should operate in its scope and within the framework of the requirements of the reality of immigration.
As regards Morocco, it must analyse its citizen’s immigration at two levels: the first is concerned with the reality and its problems piled up as presented in the issues of identity. The second is related to the future. In this future there is no decisive solutions to these problems only by a comprehensive development. Under this development, job opportunities have to be provided to all citizens who are in their country of origin so that they don’t be compelled to look for them overseas.
Still, within the framework of dealing with the existent realities, no one can argue that those immigrants are part of Morocco and its people despite their bitter reality. This is not only because of the fact that it is their country of origin. Meaning that they hold its nationality and have the prerogative to ask for diplomatic protection outside their country according to law. Besides, they shower their country of origin with huge sums of money in hard currency. They also frequently visit it in holidays. Furthermore, they are connected to it by their identity. With this identity and their work, they constitute a Moroccan existence in Europe which is the main agent and interlocutor for Morocco in various fields, especially economy. In order to preserve the solidity of that link and its capacity for attracting and attaching immigrants to Morocco as well as asserting the Moroccan existence, a great responsibility lies on Morocco. Before 1990, this responsibility was dispersed and divided between many governmental sides aside from their functions. At the top of these one can mention: The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Religious Endowments and the Ministry of Justice. However, from this year onwards, and having created the Commissioned Ministry at the Prime Minister which is invested with the affairs of the Moroccan community abroad, this responsibility came to fall on one specific body. This body was entrusted with controlling, organizing and looking after these affairs directly and co-ordinately with the other governmental circles.
His Majesty the late king Hassan II said when this Ministry was created on 31 July 90 Corresponding to 8th Muharam 1411 A.H highlighting the strong ties that attach immigrants to their homeland: “Our citizen’s allegiance abroad is just like their compatriots inside the country. Similarly, their parental, religious and moral responsibility lies on me. Our citizens abroad deserve more care than those inside the country who are looked after day and night”. His Majesty also stressed the necessity of “Maintaining the relationship, allegiance and hope of those who go abroad because they don’t immigrate to stay abroad nor to return disillusioned because, as I always say, every Moroccan who works abroad must return as a cadre. This cadre teaches others what he had learnt abroad. The same thing applies to those who save money and want to invest it or build a house to dwell in it forever ... These are the legitimate ambitions.”
It was also stated in the introductory memorandum of the decree defining the issue to be dealth with by the same Ministry that it covers a variety of critical issues relating to immigrants. Some of these are related to the problem of identity, “the family, social, cultural, religious, and educational affairs of the commmunity’s children who are of school age, in addition to the issues of children of immigrants from the second and third generations, and their balanced social reintegration at their return to their homeland.
It was mentioned in the 6th article of the aforementioned decree that the competencies of the Ministry include “scheduling and excercising all the activities of a social, cultural, educational, artistic, distractive and sportive nature in addition to professional formation activities”. In this, the ministry cooperates with cooperatives and associations of the community. In Europe, there are 211 cooperative and 186 associations. Besides, the Ministry who looks after social welfare assigned social attachés at the Moroccan consulate in Brussels, Lyon, Dijon, and Bontoise. It is expected to make other assignments in the most important consulates that remain.
To support the Ministry in question, Hassan II Institution for the Moroccan Residents Abroad was founded in the same year. According to the provisions of the second article of the law that created it, the aim behind it is “to guarantee the continuity of the main relationships attaching immigrants to their country and help them overcome obstacles facing them as a result of their alienation”. For the realization of this aim, the institution was vested with functions relating to cultural, religious and social fields”. At the top of these functions is “contributing to the expenses allocated to the formation and appropriation of the necessary equipment for improving educational methods for Moroccan residents abroad and their children, especially in the areas of Arabic language, the nationalist culture, and the religious education. In addition, it undertakes to establish or own schools and to provide them with infrastructure when the need arises to do so, it also sets up social and cultural centers for Moroccan residents abroad and their families where they can spend their holidays and organizes camp sites and excursions in Morocco for the benefits of “their children..”, finally it sponsors cultural, artistic and sportive festivals” for them.
In fact, the efforts exerted by the Ministry and the institution in this regard are strenuous. This is revealed in the aforementioned report. These efforts show that if the immigrant is divided between his desire to stay definitively abroad and his desire to return home, the same feeling overcomes his nation and the responsible persons in it who also experience this oscillation in spontaneous tendency towards the second option. They call for this option and work for its realization to develop it in the conscience of the children. For instance, the total number of teachers in the area of education who are appointed in Europe during the educational season 92-91 was 615 tutor. These are distributed as follows:
France: 266 tutor
Holland: 159 tutor, 152 tutor among these are taken in charge of by Holland according to the provisions of its system which considers education one of the local responsibilities.
Belgium: 111 tutor
Italy: 1 tutor
Denmark: 6 tutor
Spain: 20 tutor
Germany: 46 tutor, fifteen among which are taken in charge of by the Federal Republic of Germany according to the requirememnts of its system.
Hassan II institution plays an active role in the disciplinary and financial affairs of their education. According to the report of the Ministry, it came to be charged with 449 tutor. In this context, the Ministry seeks to consider the project of teaching Arabic by audiovisual means and correspondence as well. It also works in coordination with the Ministry of Education for setting up the necessary programs and issuing the appropriate scholastic books. The aim behind this is to prevent the educational process from being subject to the diligence of tutors and the commands of the party which appointed them, even if this diligence and command is within the framework of the attachment in principle to the Moroccan curricula.
In the religious field, there were many achievements that were prompted by the desire to effectively raise awareness starting from the mosques, and prayer rooms numbering over 450. in 91 many achievements were realized, to mention but a few:
1. Providing some religious associations with financial and in kind assistance.
2. Providing them with simplified religious books like the interpretations of Myara Assaghir Ali (Al Murshid Al Muayan: the specific guide) by Ibn Ashru and (Risala: The Message) by Ibn Abi Zayd Al Qirwani, and with Qur’an. Over 10.000 copies of Qur’an were sent to them that year.
3. Appointing stable preachers numbering 12 preacher. This number will have achieved 20 by the year 1992.
4. Dispatching Ulama to deliver lectures in Ramadan and in other festivities. They numbered around 30 at the same year.
In parallelism with the scholastic and religious education, some activities are organized to strengthen the bonds of identity such as summer camp sites established by the Institution in some Moroccan resorts which benefited some 1500 girls and boys. Besides, scouting excursions to Morocco have been organized by the Ministry for the Moroccan young resident abroad. Some theatrical tours have equally been organized for the benefit of some Moroccan groups which presented their shows in European countries, namely in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Free radio stations abroad have also been provided with some informative programs and financial support.
Furthermore, the Ministry aspires to set up projects in order to strengthen the bond that relates the community to its country, such as creating a Moroccan observatory for immigration which would stand as a data bank of the affairs of immigrants. It equally looks forward to establish a center for documentation specialized in these affairs and another one concerned with audiovisual documents for producing informative films about Morocco and dealing with the situation of its citizens abroad.
If the abovementioned fields represent the elements that attach the immigrant to his identity, there are other elements that are no less important. It not, more efficient in achieving this aim. The reason behind this is their impact on the life of the immigrant, its entity, family and religion. In other words, all that relates to the personal status and its various documents and such like matters falling within the competence of the diplomatic civil servants and consulate attachés working abroad. This Dahir dated on 8th Shaaban 1389 Corresponding to 20th Oct 1969. The 39th Article of this Dahir stipulates that they be given the capacity of a notary legitimately by a joint decision of the Minister of Justice and the State Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs. This qualifies them abroad “To testify marriages or divorce deeds according to the Moroccan law and system in all cases as can be appropriately written in Morocco at the hand of a notary”.
In a recent note issued by the direction of civil affairs at the Ministry of Justice, it was mentioned that “four judges joined some European countries, namely France, Holland, Germany and Belgium to undertake notarial functions such as writing documents and answering deeds received by notaries there, and supervising the course of these functions”. In the same note, it was stated that a number of officials were given the quality of a notary and are assigned to the consulates of the kingdom of Morocco in some of the following countries:
France: 26 notary in the consulates of Paris, Bobiny, Nantere, Bontoise, Rhene, Lille, Bordeau, Strasbourg, Lyon, Dijon, Marseille, Monpellier, Corsica.
Holland: 4 notaries in Amsterdam and Rotterdam
Germany: 4 notaries
Belgium: 2 notaries in Brussels and one was in the way to join them
Spain: Two notaries in Madrid
Britain: It was decided that the two notaries would be assigned to London.
It was stated in an annex of this note that the notarial certificates registered in France throughout 1991 amounted to 1337. In Belgium, their number during the same period amounted to 2958 and in Germany to 418.
The application of the Moroccan personal status to the members of the Community in the European countries still raises problems that conventions seek to overcome following the examples of Morocco, France and Belgium, the reason being the unfamiliarity of the European administrative, judicial authorities with the Moroccan rules and personal status in particular, and with the contravention committed by immigrants out of ignorance, lack of consciousness and purposefully sometimes. However, in many of these problems, there is recourse to Moroccan courts, especially when it comes to divorce, alimony, caution and so on. Some issues relating to the immigrants’ transactions in their country are also brought before the same courts. Some of these are mentioned in the note issued from the Inspectorate General of the Ministry of Justice dated 8 March 1989 “owning properties in their country.. and the problem of renting and executing judgements”. This note stresses the necessity of giving advice and guidance to the alienated and their representatives. “so that they can fend off the problems that face them while owning real estates in their homeland. These include resorting to a notary public for writing contracts and making sure that this reels estate is not hypothecated. On the other hand, immigrants must take care, when nominating other persons for instance to represent them by making the power of attorney limited and not comprehensive, lest it engenders serious problems and dire consequences that can be seen in real life..”
No doubt, the efforts exerted by various competent authorities to meet the needs of Moroccan community’s progenitor in all areas relating to their interests and linking them to their country stands in witness of a change in the officials’ attitude towards immigrants as citizens who have to be cared for. In fact, they are not mere salvable goods. They must be cared after in order to live a noble and lavish life and represent the radiant and honourable face of Morocco. However, these efforts remain in quality and in size inferior to the number of the urgent and growing needs. In the field of education alone, it is sufficient to say that the number of those who are under 6 years is approximately 500.000. In terms of quality and quantity, these children are in need of an astutely preconceived plan which is based on comprehensive and exact statistics on various problems and requirements. It must also rely on a clear conception and a scientific planning based on the correct and interesting knowledge, the effective and useful means and the well trained cadres who are apt for practice, execution and follow up.
Among all the above, one must lay focus on teaching Arabic language, religion, history, national education and raising awareness of the most crucial requirements of the personal status and the traditional commercial law and its procedures. One must also transfer the most important aspects of the national culture and kindle emotions of children and youngsters for all that connects them to their country of origin.
In addition, one must consolidate the relationships between these youngsters and associations because they are the frames that constitute social life following the Moroccan model. This would help them establish well-connected and successive relations starting respectively from the house, developing at school and continuing in the outside society in which the club and the mosque occupy a wide space.
For this to be realized one must face all that may be infiltrated into them, especially the mosque which is threatened by extremist calls. These calls may be encountered by appointing stable guides and visitors formed and qualified for this mission. They must be provided with religious and convenient books and the necessary equipment. This must be done in union of perspectives, plans and programs with other authorities responsible for the Islamic immigrants coming from other countries especially from Maghreb Arab countries. The aim behind this is to realize a united encounter which strengthens the position, reinforces the attitude and increases the conviction.
At the election of parliament in 1984, Morocco, obviously prompted by the desire to take greater care of his community abroad, and their interests and to deal with their problems, had decided to allocate five seats for representatives of this community. Three of these five seats were assigned to those who represent immigrants in the majority of European countries. The headquarters of their districts are respectively in Paris, Lyon, Brussels. As for the fourth seat, it was assigned to the representative of the immigrants to other European countries and to America. The headquarter of its districts is in Madrid. The fifth is in Tunisia and it is the voice of Moroccans in Arab countries. These posts have been created by virtue of a decree dated on 17 Di Alqiidah 1404 A.H. Corresponding to 15 August 1984 relying on the Dahir governing the formation of the parliament and the election of its members. This Dahir is dated on 20 Jumada I 1397 A.H. Corresponding to 9 May 1977 A.C. and amended on 3 Rabbi II 1404 A.H. Corresponding to 27 January 1984.
The use and effectiveness of this representation must certainly have been felt when the term of the above mentioned parliament have come to an end. In the light of the above, the renewal of this representation will surely be decided in the same form or in another more useful and advantageous form.
As for Europe, I would almost agree to say that the crises of immigrants to it is a European crisis par excellence because no one can argue against their being an integral part that constitute Europe’s societies. This is built on the following theoretical and practical realities:
1. Work has continuously been an area of gathering which develops human life. It is the focus of human relations from which they start for more potentials and promotion of capacities and creativity.
2. The immigrants to Europe have endeavoured over decades to build its Economy.
3. Speaking form a human angle, they have admittedly the right and must be acknowledged the right to have their present conditions dealt with by the European countries after they have, along with their children, depleted their efforts and energies and withered their youth. Thus they have depleted everything and have nothing left to resort to or rely upon in satisfying their needs in adversity or in their old age.
4. The legislations which entitle European countries to the right to accept or refuse immigrants can grant at the same time prerogatives to the immigrants in these countries. This is possible unless a law prohibits this possibility.
5. The most urgent situation that requires immediate redressing is the one relating to the right to identity. In fact, the present defect in identity does not affect immigrants only but the Europeans themselves. However, they may not feel this yet or deceive themselves into thinking they do not feel it.
Undoubtedly, there are international pacts concerning workers and legislations in most European countries. These legislations defend the rights of immigrants within the framework of human rights. This can be exemplified by the decisions taken by the European council for the benefit of immigrants regarding identity. these decisions stipulates for the right to education and scholastic integration of children who are expected to go back to their homeland. There are also conventions between Morocco and some European countries to reinforce this defence and to bring it down to earth. These include the labour conventions with France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands, the conventions on social insurance with the above mentioned countries as well as Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. There are also conventions on cooperation between Morocco and the European Economic community and the judicial conventions which had already been referred to with France and Belgium. However, the suffering of the Moroccan community, whether at the level of work, salary indemnities and allowances or at the level of acknowledgement of their existence and the right of some of them to the nationality and their acceptance in the host society which has a different identity. All this demonstrates that the majority of these pacts or some of them at least are mere ink on paper. I will not refer to examples like obstacles put by European countries in the way of immigrants’ obtaining the nationality knowing that this nationality itself is not an impediment to their exposition to all forms of hostility. I confine myself to one simple aspect which is the first step to start a contact or any relationship, whether permanent or temporary. This is manifested in the visa which is beset with difficulties created by all European countries in the face of Moroccans who want to get it because entrance without it is impossible. These difficulties are indeed an outcry of resentment to any cooperation or understanding, let alone peaceful coexistence. The aim behind this constraining is not at all to combat illegal immigration because it still exists even if unofficially. This kind of immigration has also bodies in Europe itself that organize and facilitate it. This is due to the fact that it is a lucrative emigration relying on cheap labour of those who take –or are obliged to immigrate for a living. How then can constraining combat this kind of illegal emigrants since its procedures apply to others as well. They can be high cadres who are responsible in all their countries when they are compelled by official trip requirements to ask for a visa.
It is striking to find this at a time when Morocco cancels the formalities of entrance to it by removing barriers, keeping wide open its doors for Europeans welcoming both the tourist and the investors among them. Morocco cooperates with a spirit of tolerance and oblivion of all the shames of the crusade and colonialist history that brands our memory. It is not even cautious of some Europeans who may infiltrate into it and gring with them crimes, drugs, epidemics or any kind of deviation.
I brought to the fore this aspect of treatment purposefully to demonstrate that it is a question of biased attitude embodied in a refusal. This refusal is basically deeprooted in individuals. This is highlighted by deductions from opinion polls that confirm that most Europeans hate immigrants and treat them badly especially when it come to Arab Moslem immigrants. Others attribute this refusal to the fact that Europe is obliged to assist its impoverished eastern regions after removing their unemployed immigrants and finding jobs for them preferring them to those who arrive from the south Mediterranean coasts. Ironically, this South is an outlet for Europe and the space where it can move. Furthermore, it has played an active role, through its sons, in building the present strong Europe, its economy and policy in various areas.
If the sweat of Moroccans in this earth has evaporated with the factories’ smokes, the blood stands in evidence of the debt that Europeans owe to Moroccan. This blood will never dry as long as it is alive and flowing. It is continuously watering the trees of freedom, pride and dignity which the struggling heroes had grown there.
If we let the past be the past and look towards the future, we will realize that Europe is in the way to a unity by the year 1993. This unity is undoubtedly coming despite the difficulties it faces in the monetary field or any other area. This unity will be confirmed by all the parties by concluding the Maastricht Treaty even though it was voted against in Denmark. The same was going to happen in France whose approval came so reluctant to a point which does not differ from a refusal only by a small margin. The most prominent features of this unity is the phenomenon of European co-citizenship which will include all the inhabitants of these countries. By virtue of this unity, a unified treatment will be imposed. This is expected to be a harder treatment than the one existing presently against immigrants as non citizens. It consists in visa delivery and the ensuing stringent security control besides combating the underground ways and other difficulties created at the level of identity assertion.
Here there must be reference to an issue which may be surprising to invoke, namely that Europeans must know and be aware of their selves. This can not be realized only by grasping some specific elements of the self, by understanding the environment in which they live along with others who exist in it and share it with them. This other who constitutes a slice which has a presence, importance and ultimately an influence on everybody either positively or negatively are numbered approximately 170.000.000 immigrant from all around the world.
This farsightedness exacts the possibility of conceiving a society in Europe that can assimilate in it immigrants who stay in it for good, if not temporarily.
In this view, we must take into account the educational, the religious and social conditions. The latter include accommodations and work. This view exacts also rejecting all forms of chauvinism and racism or dispersion and staying at the mercy of the cautious way of looking of others. Thus, citizenship and all its rights can be achieved within the framework of full equality which facilitates integration.
In the first of a series of books published in May 1990 “ For harmonious coexistence VI: Pour une Cohabitation Harmonious VI” the “Commissariat Royal à la Politique des Immigrés: Royal Commission for Immigrants’ Policy” suggested a view for integrating all immigrants of different species and religions. This view is based on the General Statute in conformity with the basic social principles which rests on culture of the host country. This is coupled with a tendency towards modernization and acceptance of plurality as it is conceived of in the understanding of a modern Western state respecting cultural diversity.
Integration does not and must not mean deleting the immigrants’ identity or detaching them of their entity and their personality. It rather means acknowledging their culture at the religious, intellectual, linguistic and social level.
Herein lies the problem because even when Europeans theoretically pretend to be able to accept this multiple condition they are actually not able to do so. On the contrary, it seems that the mere evocation of it or presence of its elements which impose themselves among Europeans disturb these Europeans and instigate them against other cultures.
This problem is very complicated because it requires a readiness and broadness of the mind. Besides, it requires exerting a great effort through permanent dialogue and opening continuous channels of communication in tolerance and volition. Ultimately, it requires understanding of public interests now and in the future. Despite this complexity, this problem can be solved by the European countries by virtue of their economic and scientific superiority. European countries boast of their care to defend human rights and freedoms especially freedom of expression. This enables them, if they really want -to overcome all the dangers and complexities.
The spectre which must motivate Europe and the entire humanity today is that of opening up to the other and accepting him; not seclusion. Culture plays a great role in that, because it is the only remaining factor that brings hope to preserve humanity and protect it from the supremacy of money and weapons -it can also counteract the present state of affairs which the materialistic civilization came into and which augurs for the start of annihilation and destruction.
From this perspective, the abusive refusal in Europe of the immigrants’ cultures is a hideous and blatant breach of the cultural right which is constitutive of human rights. At the same time, it is a fanaticism not only for these cultures but for the European cultures themselves. For this prevents them from the freedom of mixing and give and take.
It is not surprising because the existence of distinguished cultures does not mean that these cultures are diametrically opposed and cannot meet. On the contrary, they can be related through their values and principles. The latter as such and in themselves are almost the same for all peoples everywhere. Then a culture which cannot do so is devoid of all the things in which it believes and all the means of acquaintance. No matter how traditional we qualify the Islamic Arab culture, the culture to which belong Moroccan immigrants, it can embrace the European culture which is, in its turn, authentic and have not yet lost all its traditional aspects even though it has achieved a high level of development. Hence, we can find a meeting point between them such as belonging to the Mediterranean civilization. This civilization was made by people of the North and the South. Besides, there is the religious aspect as represented in the belief in one God knowing that the number of Moslems who live in unified Europe is around 15.000.000 in the absence of exact statistics. Half this number are the original citizens, the rest is formed of immigrants coming from various Islamic countries. It is known that the phenomenon of immigration is continuous despite the attempts to stop it in Europe. With this phenomenon, the issue of identity lingers despite achieving a full assimilation of the rising generations.
Hence, if the European culture was allowed to interact with other cultures, it will achieve a high and complete status which may lead it to a human status. Otherwise, it will be doomed to seclusion and decay.
Europe which has strengthened its material entity will find this entity itself threatened by deterioration in the face of amoral reality governed by difference. More than that, it is governed by a contradictory aspect. The memory of history will surely help us understand it if we evoke it with conscience and reflection. That is why, the issue of identity faces unified Europe at the level of relations between citizens of its countries on the one hand and at the level of immigrants that starts from the scope of language, educational programs, education and transcends that to other components and phenomenon. Raising this issue does not, in any way, mean a conception of unification, let alone its realization. It rather means openmindedness which is likely to lead to bridging the gaps for more rapprochement and understanding. The attitude of some European countries towards the Maastricht treaty is perhaps attributable first of all to the fear of loosing one’s identity or some components of this identity amidst this unity. This unity is supposed to be fully including the political and the economic, the cultural and the social. Yet the monetary side itself coincides with stumbling blocks presented in the difference over the monetary system as it has been with England. All of the above stand in evidence that despite aspirations for a unity which starts from the economy and widens its horizons, there are many dispersing elements that block this ambition aiming at the establishment of a strong entity. This entity should be able to resist other strong entities like USA and Japan. It must be able to protect Europe from the threat of a breakout of third war. If this war breaks out it is expected to be more violent than its preceding wars and even more subversive. These obstacles may lead to contention with a miniature unity where the agreeing parties coalesce between themselves only. This unity does not compromise identities.
I revert to the cultural field to point out that it is sufficient to highlight the extent to the dire and urgent need in Europe to openness. There is also a need to consider the difference in tongues between its countries and sons themselves, in addition to the percentage of those who try to overcome this difference by learning the others’ languages. This percentage is by far less than those who abstain from learning them. This may stem from their refusal or their languor and inability.
My aim is to show that European countries which may succeed in unifying their economic strength, need to exert strenuous efforts in order to gather the shrapnel of their cultures. In these endeavours, European countries should consider where their actions are leading them to, not only to establish a cultural unity but to find an atmosphere where all identities can coexist and enrich each other. This atmosphere requires the creation of a philosophy on which relations between individuals and social categories are built. This philosophy should rely on factors of rapprochement leading to a discovery of more horizons.
Some people may believe that the scientific achievements realized by the West is what is called culture. Basically, it is only part of culture. Rather scientific progress is a step towards the creation of a new cultural feature. However, it is by no means the entire culture. For culture is wider than the limited scope of scientific and technical developments. In reality, culture is not confined to pragmatic and material aspects. It covers all the concrete and abstract things as well as all the human issues and life requirements. These can be summed up in the relation between humans on the one hand and between humans and the universe on the other. At this point, it is perhaps the loftiest level of relations connecting people. This was expressed by all the authentic cultures starting from the call of all the celestial religions. This call is crystallized in acquaintance which Islam has made the aim behind all creations. For it refers to harmony and balance. God Almighty says in verse XIII from the Apartments:
“O mankind, we have created you male and females, and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another” (The Qur’an, translated by A.J. Arberry)
Thus there is no point in realizing progress in knowledge and economy if it does not lead to this acquaintance. If culture is unable or unwilling to assimilate the elements of its society -No matter what the disparity between these elements- it is likely to enhance acquaintance. This can be achieved through opening channels where all distant dimensions are made close to each other. Thus, all the barriers to acquaintance between cultures can be removed let alone those who live side by side with these cultures, those who refuse them or do not recognize their holders.
The sound logic leads one to think that Europe will not persist in this attitude which created the issue of identity for immigrants. This made its regions unwilling to open up to the contributions of these groups with whom they come in contact in the sanctity of their homes. I would not say that it is because its culture can allege to have a human dimension. In fact, owing to its authenticity, European culture can embrace various authentic cultures if it has some willingness and knowledge to do so.
In so doing, European culture will enrich itself in an authentic way which it has almost lost. When it is connected to other cultures which are still clung to their authenticity, this European culture will certainly revive some features of its authenticity. It will further do a positive step which is necessary for preserving the immigrants’ identity. However, if it does not, it will be doomed to privation from expansion of its cultural circle which can make it a focal point of communication, meeting and embracing. It is this cultural circle which makes it a source of real radiance flowing over all its surroundings. In the negative case, it will be a job or trade market with no influence. If European culture chooses to be so, it will assert intellectual, psychological and social seclusion which it had experienced when it colonized countries like Morocco. The European culture used only military operations in Morocco to occupy its lands, deplete its resources and divide it and its people. It also suppressed its language and culture. This choice would impose a reality of fragmentation not only on immigrants’ identity but also on the identity of its citizens. Ultimately, this will surely lead to the deterioration of relations between the two parties and on the Mediterranean basin, which has been from North to South and throughout times- the focal point of civilizations and cultures. To assert this position, many difficulties which prevailed in this world such as weak means of communication, strong battles between people should be overcome. The Mediterranean basin is today fit to draw different corners of the world near each other, to mix the entire humanity, support its individuals and communities and connect them with strong ties, diffusing between them principles of communication and rapprochement. It is also fit to remove causes for hatred and be a model for peaceful coexistence and the example of acquaintance and cooperation. For it has strengthened its bonds of neighbourliness between its shores and overcome the difficulties that faced it.
Dr. Abbes Jirari.