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  • Writer's pictureJaden Faunteroy

Muwatina: Citizenship in Morocco

The word Muwatina means Citizenship in the Darija dialect of the Arabic language; for some of the students at Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah in Fez, Morocco the meaning of the Muwatina as it relates to Morocco is greatly defined by its flexibility. Citizenship is interpretatively influenced by the Preamble of the Constitution, diversity of the Moroccan community, Arabic dialects, and the wide variety of cultures that shape being Moroccan. The shared perspectives and unity among Moroccans despite differences in other parts of identity allows them to distinguish themselves, which is another factor that sums up citizenship for a great deal of students. They define Morocco as the land of everything and emphasize that the territorial uniformity that is found amongst Moroccans can be found through the link of religion, specifically Islam.

As the first week of my Study Abroad program in Morocco and Egypt comes to a close, I believe it is important to reflect on the idea of citizenship as we continue to struggle with its meaning and implementation both in Morocco and in the United States where I am from and thus draw my comparative analysis. Many students and people have an idea of what Morocco citizenship is as stated above, but the reality of citizenship in Morocco as explained by Dr. Loubna, a Moroccan feminist, is seen through its mere existence as a theoretical realm rather than being carried out by governmental institutions. While citizenship is associated with the guaranteed rights that an individuals enjoys in a community, many would argue that citizenship doesn’t exist wholly in Morocco due to their lack of guaranteed rights.

I found myself struggling with a definite meaning for citizenship in Morocco as there are many stipulations that can disallow someone from obtaining citizenship, but not from being a Moroccan citizenship in every other aspect. I heavily believe that participating in the well-being of one's country and remembering one's responsibilities depending upon their role within said society supplies a person with some degree of citizenship. I do not believe citizenship can be or should be solely defined by the papers that allow a person to claim a country as their nation, but rather the level of participation based upon one's capabilities is a key factor.

The relevance of studies about the Maghreb countries can be limited, as explained by Delphine Perrin in "Struggles of Citizenship in the Maghreb," through imposing a uniform conception of the nation and by denying any diversity or alternative identity within the population. In a similar way, to impose a uniform and singular meaning of citizenship that is only applied through the legitimacy of papers denies the diversity within the meaning of citizenship and the various actions in which one can partake in to perfom their civic duties. It also reinforces people's inability to comprehend how citizenship is viewed in Morocco as the Constitution and the government dissallows many citizens their full and legitimate rights of citizenship. Thus, this cultivates a more complicated discussion surrounding the definition of citizenship or the dearth of a holistic and well-rounded version that encapsulates the full picture of a country as complex as Morocco.

My understanding and ideas on citizenship have been impacted and further influenced by a great deal of Moroccan people and my own peers along for this academically and culturally stimulating journey through what is considered the Arab world. Through them I have begun to further understand what citizenship means to me as an American, the societal views of citizenship and how it is carried out in daily life as a Moroccan; I would be remissed not to include them, as the people are what keeps a nation alive.

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