Libmonster ID: U.S.-1220


Candidate of Historical Sciences

To date, there is not a single European country that is not subject to intensive migration flows. In some cases, these flows seem to freeze on a certain territory, giving rise to either simply emigrant settlements, or more stable ethno-confessional communities.

One of these communities in France is Moroccan, which has quite deep historical roots. The field materials collected in recent years, both in France and Morocco, shed light on the reasons that are now forcing Moroccans to leave their homeland.


In the 19th century, students, merchants, and diplomats mostly came to France from Morocco, and their stay on this land was temporary. Prior to 1912, 1 relations between the two countries were more like neighbors, and the number of people living (temporarily or permanently)in the United States increased. There were few Moroccans on French territory (about 20 thousand).

With the outbreak of the First World War, the situation changed dramatically. The French have gone to fight at the front, and the country is sharply beginning to feel a shortage of workers. France remembers its colonies: between 1915 and 1916, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of War, and the Ministry of Labor hired the first immigrants to replace the country's indigenous people who had gone to the front. Many of the Moroccan workers who arrived during these years (mostly emigrants from southern Morocco) were sent back to their homeland after the end of the war, and some managed to stay to work in France.

Moroccans worked not only in the rear: during the war years, France recruited many North Africans to serve in the French army. Many of them returned home, but there were also those who were hired to work in France in the post-war years. In the 1920s, the number of Moroccans again approached the level of pre-war years-from 15 to 21 thousand people. They were mostly men, and they worked in large industrial enterprises or in the agricultural sector.2

In the 1930s, France tried to control the flow of immigrants from the Maghreb countries, assigning these functions to the French administration. During this period, cases of repatriation of Moroccan workers to their homeland are becoming more frequent. On the eve of World War II, France again needed Moroccan immigrants: in the 1939s and 1940s, Moroccan workers were employed in the construction and strengthening of the Maginot Line*, in manufacturing and in mines. By the beginning of the war, the number of Moroccans in France was 28 thousand workers and 12 thousand. military 3.

In the post-war years, France sends former Moroccan soldiers and workers back to their homeland. Until the 1950s, the National Immigration Bureau controlled the entry of Moroccans into the country. Over the next decade, France has taken in mostly seasonal workers, strictly controlling their entry and exit, as well as their length of stay. Between 1949 and 1962, the number of Moroccans in the country increased from 20,000 to 53,000.4

After France recognized Morocco's independence in 1956, the countries signed a number of agreements, including on regulating migration flows. In 1957, an agreement was signed under which "Moroccans can enter and leave the territory of the French Republic with valid passports"5This agreement stipulates the right of a State (whether it is France or Morocco) to expel immigrants from the territory of its country or those who temporarily stay on its territory. Based on this document, the authorities of both countries could request confirmation from the incoming person that he has the financial means to live on the territory of the state or guarantees from relatives to whom he is sent about his maintenance. The Convention, signed on June 1, 1963, legalized migration flows between countries, and the convention of November 10 of the same year made several clarifications, prescribing increased control over these flows.

The 1973 oil crisis, which led to an increase in the number of unemployed and, as a result, a decrease in the number of jobs, also affected the immigration policy of the French Republic: the flow of immigrants from the Maghreb countries was suspended. But immigrants living in France (or, to be more precise, members of the immigrant community: many of them already had French citizenship and even their home in France) were in no hurry to return home.

In the late 1970s-early and mid - 1980s, there was a decline

The article was written with the support of the Russian Foundation for National Research in the framework of the research project "South-North Migration Processes. Lessons for Russia". Project N 06-02-02083a.

* The Maginot Line (French: La Ligne Maginot) is a system of fortifications extending about 400 km on the German border from Belfort to Longuyon. It was built in 1929-1934, then improved until 1940.

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the flow of immigrants from Morocco. But despite various laws preventing them from emigrating to France, Moroccans continued to come to the country, staying to live and work. At this time, family immigration was particularly strong. For those who came from large Moroccan families, it was not difficult to find at least a distant relative in France who could help with the registration of documents for living in the country.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the second generation of immigrants-children who grew up in France - brought wives and husbands from Morocco. Such marriages are often encouraged by immigrant parents who are trying to preserve their ethnic and religious identity. The same period is also characterized by another flow - the departure of immigrants from the Moroccan community from France. Often they were elderly parents who preferred to spend their old age in their homeland rather than stay in France, which never became their real home.

Today, the flow of immigrants from Morocco is not as numerous as it was a few decades ago, but still some Moroccans dream of living on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.


Based on the research conducted by European research centers, as well as the author's own interviews with Moroccans living in France6, we can distinguish two main reasons that for many decades guided and are guided by Moroccans who wanted to settle in France - economic and psychological.

If we consider economic factors, first of all, it is the low standard of living in Morocco in the south of the country, which was the main supplier of immigrants. Even the small European salaries of immigrants helped, and still often help, entire families left at home to survive.

Among the Moroccan unemployed, a large percentage of young people (under 30 years of age). While in the 1980s their parents came to work for businesses in large cities in Morocco, now it is increasingly difficult for their children to find work there.

Even after receiving a higher education in Morocco or abroad, a young specialist can stay out of work for years. Unemployment among qualified professionals is one of the most pressing problems. Often, young people agree to go to work in villages or small towns, so as not to lose their qualifications. Student emigration is not a new, but extremely acute problem for the state. Many young professionals, even if they want to return to Morocco after finishing higher education, stay abroad, because the chance of finding a job in their specialty or at least any other job in Europe is higher than in their homeland.

Teachers wait for years for a place at the university, working as guest lecturers in the outback; engineers survive from order to order, wandering around the country. Quite often, a young specialist goes to a remote Berber village for several years to build an object in the hope of getting a more interesting and better-paid job in the city in a few years.

Urbanization, rising unemployment, low wages-all these factors are forcing many Moroccans to think about emigrating. But there is another important factor - psychological.

In an interview with the author in 2004, a girl from the second generation of Moroccan immigrants in France spoke about her family's visits to their ancestral homeland. Her family of eight children lived in one of the immigrant suburbs of Paris and barely made ends meet. The small apartment, the clothes she inherited from her older sisters, the modest food and many family problems associated with integrating children into European society were forgotten when they arrived in Morocco, where her mother spoke about the charms of their "rich" European life. "Before we left, we bought gifts at Tati for all our relatives and came as rich Europeans," my interlocutor recalled.

For the inhabitants of the small village, gifts from Tati, a chain of cheap department stores in France, were a luxury, and the life of relatives seemed to them like a paradise on the other side of the earth. This topic came up in conversations with many bers*. Their parents, coming to their native villages from France, could afford to buy a house in Morocco, brought gifts, and all the villagers, for whom even the small salary or pension that the father of the family received was a lot of money, considered them rich. So the myth of a "rich" France was born, where even an immigrant can earn a lot of money and live like other French people.

This myth originated long ago, back in the years of colonialism. At that time, France introduced the latest achievements of European science and technology, new ways of farming, established the export of Moroccan products and, importantly, a new system of education and training of young people in local French schools and in higher educational institutions of the metropolis. For ordinary Moroccans, France was the epitome of all these innovations, a country far ahead of their homeland.

Family emigration also lived on its own myth. In conversations with the bers, I often asked what made their parents (most of whom did not settle down in France) stay in a foreign country that they do not like, as they say, and bring and raise their children in this country. Almost all of them answered that their parents wanted their children to live in their mother's house-

* Bers in France are called representatives of the second generation of Maghreb immigrants. Either those who were already born in France, or those who came to the country in childhood.

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a truly prosperous society. Even despite the difficulties of raising children in European society (many Maghrebins could not get used to the idea that their children needed to integrate into European society and tried to keep them in their world by instilling their own religion and traditions), parents did not want their children to return to Morocco. First of all, because of the poverty from which they themselves fled.

The myth of "rich Europe" is still alive today. Thus, teenagers from Moroccan bidonvilles*, like young people from Moroccan villages in the middle of the last century, dream of living in Europe. Moreover, Europe is separated from the Moroccan Tangier only by the Strait of Gibraltar. This proximity of" wealth " and new opportunities makes many cross it by boat, despite all the prohibitions and dangers.


The emigration of Moroccans to European countries consisted of several main streams. At first, only men came to France (usually from the countryside), and their families stayed in their homeland. It could have been several years before a man brought his family. In France, Moroccan workers were perceived as second-class people, guest workers, whose lot was hard work and life in isolation from the native inhabitants of the country. Usually Maghreb residents came to work in large enterprises, and they were allocated dormitories on the outskirts of cities such as Marseille and Paris, where settlements of immigrants from North Africa were formed. They lived for several people in small rooms and practically did not go beyond the borders of their immigrant settlement.

The main purpose of the immigrant workers who came to France in the 1960s was to earn money. They were not embarrassed by their low status in society, they were ready to obey all the rules dictated by the French side, since only such behavior gave them a chance to stay in the country and get a job. It is not necessary to speak about the homogeneity of the Maghreb diaspora at this time. They were united only by the material factor. The diaspora itself at that time was a fusion of heterogeneous groups, held together by family and kinship ties. Moroccans, like other immigrants, tried to stick to "their own", coming from the same family, the village.

With the opportunity for workers to bring their families to France, immigration gradually became not only labor, but also family. Over time, the immigrant began to feel not just a "temporary worker", but to a certain extent a member of the society in which he was, lived, worked, where his children studied. With the appearance of children in the "concrete quarters", the question arose about the need to educate the younger generation in the spirit of Maghreb traditions and the precepts of the Muslim religion.

From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, the diaspora grew steadily. New arrivals joined the community: most of them came to live with relatives, who helped them at first with housing and getting a job. As a result, for many years the Maghreb community not only did not lose its ties with the motherland, but also maintained constant contacts with it, receiving information from newly arriving compatriots.

Thanks to the constant influx of new immigrants from their homeland, the Moroccan diaspora became more and more numerous, and this allowed it to build an ever higher wall between the representatives of the diaspora and the indigenous population. Immigrants tried to preserve their ethno-cultural identity in everything: in their way of life, in clothing, and in food, and their neighborhoods began to resemble the cities of North Africa. Arabic was spoken everywhere, there were halal butcher shops at every turn, just like in their homeland, and men drank tea in cafes with an oriental atmosphere. For most immigrants, France remained only a country with a higher standard of living, but not a new homeland.

Family emigration of Moroccans still exists today. Today, young girls who have married Ber are traveling from Morocco, or distant relatives of those immigrants who have long settled on French soil in the hope, like previous generations, of making money. Due to the migration policy implemented today

Bidonvili-spontaneously organized neighborhoods of poor people living in houses made of cardboard, iron, and industrial waste.

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Family emigration has become one of the most affordable ways to legally emigrate to France.


Individual emigration of Moroccan women is a fairly new phenomenon. After the Second World War, cases of independent emigration of women were very rare. This was primarily due to the traditions of Moroccan society, where a woman mainly performs the role of a housewife, and her legal status obliges her to obey the will of her father, and after marriage - the will of her husband. The second reason is the lack of job opportunities for women. They mostly claimed to be domestic workers, while migration bureaus recruited workers for factories and coal mines. In addition, in the 1960s, people from less affluent Western European countries, such as Spain and Portugal, were mostly employed in the service sector.

It wasn't until the late 1980s that Moroccan expats showed up. Mostly they preferred to emigrate to Spain, Italy, and the Gulf states, where they were happily employed as servants. First of all, unemployment forced women to leave the country for work.

As urbanization increases, so do family relationships. And if earlier the concept of a family that was always ready to help included an entire clan, including even the most distant relatives, then with the relocation of families to cities or their suburbs, the connection with the family becomes less strong. Often, left alone (as a result of a divorce or the death of her husband), a woman saw no other way to support her family than to take a job abroad, where she was guaranteed a higher salary than at home.

For some, emigration was a way to escape the Muslim world and gain equal rights with men, which, in their opinion, was possible only in European society. Such emigration occurred in a later period (the 1990s). Women who had higher education (engineers, teachers, etc.), those who were going to work under a contract, improve their skills in other countries, or those who went to continue their studies in French universities mostly left. In this way, many Moroccan women settled in France, who enjoyed free education and a fairly developed system of scholarships, and they even had money for a modest stay. Many of these girls then preferred to stay in the country, trying to find a job.

Moroccan women without education often work as domestic workers (housekeepers, nannies, cooks, etc.). Such work is unstable, poorly paid, but it helps many Moroccan families survive in their homeland. In recent years, we can also note the large number of Moroccan prostitutes in many European cities. Usually, the panel includes single or divorced girls who came to work in Europe, but were never able to get a job.

Women's emigration from Morocco was not only influenced by certain changes in Moroccan society, but also gave rise to some of them. For example, the number of mixed marriages has increased. Moreover, in recent years (and this applies mainly to France), the number of marriages of Moroccan women with Europeans has increased.

Family relationships have also changed. Since many Moroccan women have started marrying non-Muslims, in many cases the marriage is secular. In conversations with Berks, who are of Moroccan origin, I found confirmation of this fact: many of them would like to have a husband not from the Moroccan community, because, in their opinion, it would be freer and more comfortable for them to live in a family that is not burdened with Muslim traditions.

In general, the topic of Islam remains a burning topic for women working in Europe. For example, some Moroccan women are sensitive to the ban on wearing a Muslim headscarf in France. This is especially true for women for whom Islam remains a part of their lives and wearing the hijab is a necessary attribute. Sometimes it is impossible to explain to a Moroccan woman who has only a basic education what republican principles are and why they are not always compatible with wearing a headscarf.

In recent years, no one has been surprised by the fact that a Moroccan girl can afford to travel to another country alone, without a family and without a husband to earn a living. From divorced women and widows who work as domestic servants in European homes, to young female students who continue their education in Europe. In our opinion, the individual emigration of Moroccan women is a consequence of changes within Moroccan society itself, both under external influence and with processes occurring in it itself, such as the change in the number of women living in Morocco.-

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the decline in the legal status of women in Morocco, urbanization and its consequences, the increase in jobs for women, and finally the desire of women themselves to have an independent status.

Once, when I got lost in the streets of the Medina in Rabat, I decided to ask for directions. I was interested in a couple - two girls who were buying groceries at the bazaar. One was dressed in European style, in jeans and a blouse, the other in a national Moroccan dress. I approached them, and they set about leading me out of the maze of streets, asking me what I was doing in Morocco. I, in turn, began to ask them: who are they? What do they do? Without thinking twice, they invited me to have couscous with one of the girls who lived with their parents.

A couple of hours later, I was on the doorstep of a small apartment. The girl, who was wearing the national dress, changed into a tracksuit. It turned out that, unlike the daughter of the owner of the house, she lives in the next apartment alone. She is 27 years old, originally from Fez, studied in Casablanca and found a job in Rabat. When I asked her how her parents reacted to the fact that she lived alone outside her parents ' home, being unmarried, she said that it was calm, these are different times, and she can manage her life.

This was also confirmed by the mother of the girl I was visiting. She doesn't mind if her daughter chooses her own husband, goes to study in another city. The girl, who turned out to be 17 years old, had just finished school and could not decide what to do. When she saw me off, she told me that she wanted to go to Casablanca, where their relatives live, and study there. She wants to make her life interesting, meet a lot of people, and travel. True, at the moment her parents do not have much money to help her, but she hopes that her plans will come true, and her parents only welcome them. She also wants to marry a European. When I asked her why, she could only say, " They're different, and my mom likes the idea too."


In the mid-90s of the 20th century, the migration services of Morocco and European countries first started talking about a new group of emigrants from this part of North Africa - underage teenagers. In official documents of the European Union, this group is designated by the term "Unaccompanied adolescents", which is " children and adolescents under the age of 18 who have third-country citizenship and live in their host countries without parental care..."7.

The first minor emigrants were heading to France and Belgium, and in the last few years Spain and Italy have become the preferred destinations for them due to relatively easier accessibility. To date, this flow has become less intense due to the security measures already taken in the ports of the Mediterranean and the increased control of the coast. Just like at the end of the last century, these teenagers, looking hopefully at the other side of Gibraltar, rush in search of a "rich" life across the sea, and eventually drag out a beggarly existence on the streets of European cities.

Teenagers who try to enter Europe by any means possible (in recent years, mainly to Spain, which they choose either as their final destination or as a transit country) have previously lived in various parts of Morocco.

In 2005, the Jome Bofil Foundation, the Council of Andalusia, and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) conducted a study "Analysis of the transformation of the phenomenon of Moroccan adolescent migration to Spain" 8, which provides an opportunity to understand what motivations teenagers have when deciding to emigrate, as well as who they are, these young people who are even ready to give up their lives for the sake of a" rich " future in Europe. During the study, about 40 teenagers and their families were interviewed.

Most of the families surveyed came from rural areas, but they had been living for several years in the suburbs of big cities (mainly Tangier and Casablanca) in bidonvilles or cheap apartments. 9 Such neighborhoods usually exist as if separately from the city itself: the "village" try to keep to "their own", because of the lack of jobs, they agree to any job. At the same time, with the relocation of these people to urban areas, traditional family ties are gradually being lost. Often, families go to different cities, and some stay in the village. In addition to the devaluation of family traditions, the usual problems for such neighborhoods are added: unemployment, crime, low standard of living, lack of any opportunities for normal leisure activities for teenagers, frequent water and electricity outages.

It is precisely from such neighborhoods that teenagers are trying to escape, for whom such a close Europe, in which there is probably a place for them, is also attractive thanks to the media. It turned out that almost all the surveyed families are full, there is a father and mother, and most families have at least three children. The majority of teenagers, when naming the reasons for their escape to Europe, spoke not only about economic, but also about family problems. Among them - abuse of loved ones (most often by the father, who wants to show through physical violence his power over his wife and children), alcoholism, constant quarrels between parents (for most teenagers, the age difference between parents reached about 20 years), and in recent years - unemployment, especially acutely affecting men, so in most families, mothers are often the main earners, and the whole family is supported by them.

Almost all parents of teenagers who want to emigrate are either illiterate or have only primary education. Most families live below the poverty line, and many do not have a stable income or social protection. As for work, it is easier to find it for women and girls at once-

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private enterprises in large cities and in the service sector. If we talk about men between the ages of 40 and 60, it is among them that the highest unemployment rate is observed. Parents are forced to send their children to work, as they prefer young people at enterprises, who have to support the whole family. At the same time, young people receive a rather low salary, which the whole family can hardly live on.

Living in such conditions, teenagers decide to emigrate, hoping that in Europe they will be able to do the same job, earn much more money. Teenagers aged 15-16 usually leave, but there have also been cases of nine-year-old emigrants. Most of them are young men, but there are also girls. By emigrating, teenagers expect that they will be able not only to provide for themselves, but also to feed their families. Based on the data of the study, the majority of teenagers, having managed to settle in Europe, maintain contacts with their family, and many regularly send them money.

According to the survey, young people say that the main reason for emigration is to help their families. However, it is worth noting that the current conditions of emigration of men who want to earn money for their families are fundamentally different from the previous ones. If young Moroccans went to work in the 1960s in order to improve the economic conditions for their families, they had reason to leave. France, as well as other European countries, invited workers to join them, providing them with jobs and stable wages. To go to work in the middle of the last century meant really saving your family from poverty.

Now young people live, rather, illusions. The world of affluent Europeans, which they see in movies and on TV, beckons them, but they do not understand that this is a world of illusions. Moreover, Europe is currently trying to limit the arrival of such low-skilled immigrants by implementing a policy of selective immigration.

Moroccan teenagers from dysfunctional families, whose lives are mostly spent on the streets of poor neighborhoods in large cities, in most cases only change their location, finding themselves after a dangerous sea journey on the other side of Gibraltar on the sidewalks of Malaga or Madrid.

I saw these teenagers in the port of Tangier trying to get under the trailers going to the port. It seemed to me that for many of them it was a kind of game, a kind of adrenaline rush: will it work or not, will it crush or not crush? About twenty people rushed under the car in front of my eyes, and when it stopped at the port gate, the guards began to pull out the boys. During the commotion, one managed to dive under a trailer and enter the port territory. The others stood aside and cheered. The trick was successful. One of them is already there. The second one will follow tomorrow. But I wasn't sure if they knew what "games" lay ahead.

* * *

Over the past few decades, immigration policies in France have changed, as have the types of Moroccan immigrants themselves: from the village boy who saved his family from starvation, women who leave their homeland for the future of their children, to young Moroccan women who decide to fend for themselves on the other side of the Mediterranean, and boys who amuse themselves with the idea of a better life life. But despite the desire of emigrants to earn money to provide for their relatives or save their families from poverty, they are driven by another desire, which may not even be fully realized by themselves , to get to the "paradise" that many of them see in France.

1 In 1912, part of Morocco came under a French protectorate.

2 Data is provided by: Maazouz M. Les Marocains en Ile-de-France, CIEMI-L'Harmattan. Paris, 1988, p. 164.

3 Data are provided by: Pour une histoire des Marocains en France. Hommes & Migration, N 1242, 2003, p. 18 - 31.

4 Ibidem.

5 The texts of these laws can be found on the official website of the French Government -

6 The author's research, which is based on the results of interviews with representatives of the Maghreb community in France, was conducted in 2003-2004. See: Demintseva E. To be an "Arab" in France, Moscow, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2008.

7 Resolution du Conseil du 26 juin 1997 concernant les mineurs non accompagnes ressortissants de pays tiers. Journal officiel N° C 221 du 19/07/1997. The test can be viewed on the website -

8 For the full text of the report dated 21.11.05, see:

9 Morocco experienced two major waves of urban rural migration , in the 1970s and in the 1980s.


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