August 01, 2005
Sex and Citizenship: Morocco, Jordan, Foreigners Boinking and Children's citizenship
Our industrious friend Abu Aardvark(s) (known affectionately in our Maghrebine parlance now, in honour of the second Aardvark as Bou Aradvrak) had some interesting comments on Morocco's newly announced move, via the Moroccan King's Throne speech this weekend, to change Moroccan law to grant citizenship to the children of foreigners and Moroccan women. This will end, when eventually enacted, decades of paterfamilias centered citizenship policy.
Bou Aradvrak indicated he hoped this would have a positive effect on the Jordanian dynamic where similar liberalisation has been stalled:
Progress for Arab Women & Children as his blog arty is entitled.
I shouldn't think so.
Unlike Jordan, Morocco doesn't face any real political issues from doing this. Some hard core paternalists may be put out, but most Moroccans I know think of this in terms of the famous MRE (French acronym standing for Moroccans Resident Overseas) issue and the fairly small but growing minority of Moroccan-Euro marriages in the diaspora.
Unlike the Jordanian case, this is largely looked on as a source of support and wealth, with no substantive political arguments contra.
In Jordan the clear fear on the part of "Native" East Bank Jordanians is being submerged in a flood of Palestinian-Jordanian marriages, with West Bank origin Jordanians marrying West Bank cousins for citizenship.
It's a real fear that has far less to do with women's rights than fear of control and immigration, rather like American fears of Mexico or European fears of Turkey.
Given my time in both countries, I am convinced that while certainly there is the women's right angle, looking at this purely in that light utterly mistakes the real power dynamics.
This subject actually came up quite a lot this weekend - due to some (ahem) personal connexions and a little bit of multinational join venture negotiations that ironically happened to fall at the same time as M6's initiative from the speech.
Unlike in Jordan, everyone was rather blase about the entire affaire, even those "unhappy" (despite my presence) seemed to be so more from a general sense of too much change (vague conservatism) rather than fundamental opposition. Rather clearly the political issue of national identity is utterly lacking in the Moroccan context (at least until hordes of Euro-Moroccan descended businessmen and women start buying up the economy), whereas in Jordan, this goes to power politics at its most fundamental.
In short, while it may feel right to look at this in terms of women and children, in reality in Jordan it's national identity and power politics. In Morocco its women and children, at least for the moment.
In that context, a weakening Jordanian Hashemite Monarchy whose power base (East Bankers) may be detaching itself from the Hashemites or at least Abdullah, should bloody well not undertake such a policy change without building in political safeguards.
Human rights are fine and nice and warm and fuzzy. They rarely trump state interest or ruling interest if push comes to shove. It would be unwise to wish for something that could have rather nasty unintended consequences.
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Thoroughly irrelevant, but I find it amusing that this site (aided and abetted by Google) is serving up an ad for "Quality Islamic Clothing for the entire family!"
I guess we'll know we've arrived when Google serves us up an ad urging us to subscribe to Foreign Affairs.
Posted by: N/A at August 1, 2005 07:09 PM
Posted by: ze at February 25, 2006 06:48 PM