Moroccan Americans

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Editor: Thomas Riggs
Date: 2014
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
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Moroccan Americans

Elizabeth Shostak

OVERVIEW

Moroccan Americans are immigrants or descendants of people from Morocco, the African nation closest in location to Europe. Located to the far northwest of the continent, it is bordered on the east by Algeria and to the south by Western Sahara. To its north is the Mediterranean Sea, and to its west is the Atlantic Ocean. Morocco's two coasts are separated by the Strait of Gibraltar, a strategic point that provides entry to the Mediterranean from the west. Only ten miles across the Strait to the north lies Spain. Two northeast-southwest mountain ranges, the Rif and the Atlas Mountains, bisect the country and occupy more than a third of its total area. The country's highest point is Jbel Toubkal (13,671 feet, or 4167 meters) in the southwestern Atlas Mountains, and its lowest elevation is Sebkha Tah (-55 meters) in the far southwest, near the Western Sahara and Atlantic coast. Its capital city is Rabat, on the Atlantic coast, and its principal economic and cultural center is Casablanca, also on the Atlantic coast. Morocco's total land area is roughly 172.5 square miles (446,775 square kilometers), of which only 21 percent is arable land. The entire country of Morocco is slightly larger than the state of California.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Morocco's population in July 2012 was estimated at 32,309,239. Approximately 75 percent of the population is of Berber ancestry, and almost 99 percent is Muslim. Christians make up about 1 percent of the population, and Jews number around 6,000, or less than 1 percent. Morocco has relatively high birth and population growth rates, which exacerbates housing shortages and produces a high level of unemployment. As of 2011 the unemployment rate in the country was at 8.9 percent. Morocco's main exports include fruits, vegetables, clothing, textiles, crude minerals, phosphates, and petroleum products. As of 2013 Morocco was the only African country to have a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which began in 2006.

The Moroccan American community is relatively new, with significant waves of immigration occurring in the wake of World War II through the 1980s and another major influx from 1990 to 2000. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, nearly 13,000 Moroccan Americans reported having entered the United States during that decade. However, America's relationship with Morocco dates from the very beginning of U.S. history. Morocco was the first country to grant official recognition to the newly formed United States of America after the country obtained independence from Great Britain. While Moroccans who migrated to European countries were typically unskilled workers hoping to escape their country's high unemployment rate, those who came to the United States tended to have more education and better job skills. By the late 1990s a large proportion of Moroccans in the United States were students or recent university graduates. In general, the number of Moroccan immigrants remains relatively low.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the estimated population of Moroccan Americans in 2010 was 74,908, which is roughly the same size as the population of Gary, Indiana. Many Americans of Moroccan descent have settled in urban areas, especially in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, and Florida, where they have often established small businesses or entered professional fields. With this trend in mind, the assimilation of Moroccan immigrants into American culture remains mixed. While many early entrants to the country established small businesses in tight-knit ethnic communities, business professionals and a younger generation of students assimilated more into American society, thus adapting or disbanding altogether their traditional cultural rituals.

HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE

Early History The early history of Morocco includes Amazigh (also known as Berber), Arabic, and Jewish influences, a legacy that serves as the foundation for modern Morocco's multiculturalism. The Amazigh, a group of non-Arabic tribes scattered throughout North Africa, inhabited Morocco by the end of the second millennium BCE. Early Amazigh were a mix of nomadic herders and agricultural settlers. Because much of the land is arid and infertile, they raised crops and pastured their flocks in Morocco's coastal regions and inland mountains. Phoenician merchants established trading ports along Morocco's Mediterranean coast in the twelfth century BCE. Their presence brought increased commerce to the region and introduced new skills to the Amazigh, including weaving, Page 246  |  Top of Articlemasonry, and iron and metal work. By the fifth century BCE, the Phoenicians had expanded their ports along Morocco's Atlantic coast as well. After the Roman Empire defeated Carthage, Morocco's Amazigh King Juba (25 BCE–24 CE) encouraged his country to ally itself with Rome. In 46 CE Morocco was annexed as part of the province of Mauretania to the Roman Empire. Although Moroccans are today predominantly Muslim, it is believed that during the period of Roman rule the province was almost entirely converted to Christianity.

Even prior to Roman colonization, Jewish people lived in Morocco. Small groups of Jews entered the area in the first century CE after they were forced out of their ancestral land. Sephardic Jews of Spanish and Portuguese descent fled to Morocco and other North African countries to escape the Inquisition from 1391 through the last decades of the fifteenth century. There they engaged in small crafts or trades, such as silversmithing, and often moved from town to town. By 1438 the Jews in the city of Fez were forced to live in special quarters called mellahs, a derivation of the Arabic word for salt. Mellah referred to the fact that Jews were given the job of salting the heads of executed prisoners to prepare them for public exhibition.

The Arab conquest of Morocco brought Islam to the country in the late seventh century. The Amazigh fiercely resisted Arab control, staging a successful revolt in 740. Nevertheless, Arab religious, social, and linguistic traditions became a central part of Moroccan culture After regaining their independence from the Arabs, various Amazigh factions vied for control in the area, leading to a series of local wars spanning almost 300 years. Finally, in the mideleventh century, a confederation of tribes called the Almoravids conquered all of Morocco, as well as much of Spain, and in 1070 they established the city of Marrakesh, which remained a center of Islamic knowledge and military might for several decades.

Early in the twelfth century the Almohads, another clan, overthrew the Almoravid dynasty and assumed rule. During the Almohads' reign, a number of Moroccan scholars, including al-Murrakushi (1237–1303) and Ibn al-Banna (1256–1321), made major contributions to the fields of science, mathematics, and astronomy that are credited with helping to bring Europe out of the Dark Ages. By the thirteenth century the Almohads had been expelled from Spain; in 1269 they were defeated in Morocco by the Marinids, under whom the explorer Ibn Battuta (1304–1369) traveled throughout the Islamic world, mapping a region spanning from northern Africa to eastern China. Marinid rule lasted until the mid-fifteenth century, after which the country was partitioned into small independent states. In around 1550 the Sa'dis took control, remaining in power for the next century. These North African tribes who conquered Spain were commonly known as Moors.

Modern Era European interest in North Africa increased during the 1800s, as France and Spain vied for power in the region. After invading Algeria in 1830, France became the dominant colonial power in North Africa. The Treaty of Fez, signed in 1912, made Morocco a French protectorate, which resulted in improved conditions, equal rights, and religious autonomy for Moroccan Jews. During World War II these equal conditions changed, however, when the occupied French Vichy government cooperated with the Nazis. Morocco's King Mohammed V, who remains a beloved figure in Morocco for his resistance to French involvement in the region, prevented the deportation of Jews from Morocco during the Holocaust, thereby saving them from almost certain death in Nazi concentration camps. However, with the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, most of the estimated 270,000 Jews in Morocco left for new opportunities. Most immigrated to Israel, but many also traveled to France, Canada, and the United States.

In the decade following World War II, anticolonial sentiments increased throughout Africa. Morocco negotiated its independence from France in 1956, when King Mohammed V formed a constitutional government. Upon his death in 1961, his son Hassan II ascended to the throne. King Hassan II's rule was tumultuous, with opposition from rival political parties leading to successive attempted military coups in 1971 and 1972, which, Hassan claimed, he survived due to his baraka, or divine powers. Over the following twenty years, Hassan established strong relationships with the United States and Israel, though he faced criticism for his harsh treatment of political dissidents. Morocco's constitution, signed by Hassan in 1972 and later revised in 1980, 1992, and 2011, gives supreme executive power to the hereditary king, who appoints a prime minister. The constitution also created a House of Representatives and an independent judiciary.

Hassan's son Mohammed VI succeeded his father in 1999, a period in which Morocco was experiencing problems typical of developing nations: high government spending and inflation, a huge external debt, limited access to health care, poor housing and living conditions, and high unemployment. Mohammed VI made several efforts at addressing the issues he inherited, releasing thousands of political prisoners, instituting land reforms and economic-modernization initiatives, and strengthening a highly developed tourism industry. Nevertheless, Moroccans still faced inhospitable living conditions within their country. According to the World Bank Report (2012), the estimated birth rate reached an all-time high of 50.4 births per 1,000 people in 1960, resulting chiefly from Muslim opposition to family-planning measures. This level decreased to 19.5 out of 1,000 by 2010 (compared to 13 out of 1,000 in the United States during the same period). This consistently high birth rate has led to Morocco's relatively high Page 247  |  Top of Articlerate of population growth, estimated at 1.2 percent from 2010 to 2015 by the United Nations Statistics Division. Moreover, as of 2010 approximately 28 percent of the country's population was younger than fifteen years old. Morocco's high unemployment rate, estimated at 9.4 percent but reaching as high as 30 percent among those between the ages of fifteen to twenty-nine, particularly affects this segment of the population.

In the late twentieth century, with average wages in nearby Europe about twenty times higher than those in North Africa, Moroccan migrants in search of jobs frequently attempted to enter the continent through Spain, which lies a mere 14 kilometers across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco's coast. According to the Migration Information Source website,

In many respects, the Strait of Gibraltar is the European Union's equivalent of the Rio Grande between the United States and Mexico. Despite intensified border controls, tens of thousands of Moroccans managed to enter Europe each year. This makes Spain the main entrance to an internally borderless Europe for African immigrants.

By the end of the 1990s, the European Union had begun limiting visas for North Africans and barring illegal migrants from entering Europe. The elimination of access to European jobs caused significant problems in Morocco. Some Moroccan workers sought illegal entry to Spain—a practice fraught with dangers: the Economist reported in 1999 that, during the preceding five years alone, 3,000 Moroccans had drowned in illegal attempts to cross the Strait of Gibraltar to enter Spain. This situation affected mostly unskilled workers; Moroccans with higher levels of education and job skills were able to consider immigration to the United States.

The global economic downturn that began in 2007, however, severely affected the economies of many European nations, leading to a considerable slowing of Moroccan immigration to Spain and a slight increase in immigration to the United States. In the 2010s the unemployment levels among Moroccans living in Spain easily surpassed unemployment in Morocco, reaching as high as 60 percent. This trend served to discourage further immigration by Moroccans into Spain and even led to a net loss of 22,000 Moroccans from Spain in 2011. Furthermore, the Spanish population in Morocco quadrupled between the years 2003 and 2011, indicating that Morocco had become something of a destination for Spanish job seekers.

In the twenty-first century, citizens of Morocco and the other North African nations (Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya) began to demand government reforms, social programs aimed at alleviating unemployment, and democratic representation. On February 20, 2011, tens of thousands of Moroccans—the majority of whom were students and other youths particularly affected by Morocco's high unemployment rate—took

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ESTEVANICO: THE FIRST MOROCCAN IN AMERICA

Although Moroccans did not begin to arrive in the United States in large numbers until the mid-twentieth century, there are records of their presence in North America as early as the sixteenth century. The first documented African explorer of the New World, and perhaps the first Muslim to step foot in America, was a man named Mustafa Zemmouri from the North African coastal city of Azemmour in present-day Morocco. Although little is known of his early life before he was sold into slavery by Spanish slave traders in the 1520s and given the name Estevanico by his owner, a Castilian named Andrés Dorantes, Estevanico would eventually travel across the New World, exploring areas that now constitute the American Southwest.

Dorantes and Estevanico originally set sail in 1527 as part of an ill-fated expedition by Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Naváez. After most of the expedition was lost while crossing the Gulf of Mexico, Dorantes and Estevanico made landfall on Galveston Island off the southeastern shore of Texas and eventually made their way into mainland North America, where they were captured by a group of Native Americans. Estevanico's dark skin color and ability as a translator made him an object of fascination, and he was assumed to have magical healing powers. After six years Estevanico and Dorantes escaped and made their way back to Spain, though Estevanico returned to North America again in 1539, leading a trek into present-day New Mexico. There, he became the first non-native person to step foot in a Zuni pueblo. Estevanico was eventually captured and killed for unknown reasons in the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh, but his legacy as one of the first explorers of the American Southwest remains a source of pride to Moroccans and North African Muslims to this day.

to the streets in protest, staging largely peaceful protests in public spaces and in front of government buildings. The so-called February 20 Movement continued to challenge King Mohammed VI's policies throughout 2011, prompting an official response from the king on March 9, 2011, in which he proposed granting the prime minister greater authority, initiating parliamentary elections, and granting recognition of Berber as an official language of Morocco. The proposed reforms were ratified in a July referendum, though some dissenters argued that the reforms did not go far enough and continued to protest into 2013.

SETTLEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES

Although it is believed that Moroccans may have been present in America from the earliest years of European exploration, Moroccan migration to the United States was not widespread until the mid-twentieth century. Evidence indicates that one of the earliest explorers of America was a Moroccan man named Estevanico, from the town of Azemmour, who landed in America in 1528. There are also accounts of Sephardic Jews from Morocco making their way to the United Page 248  |  Top of ArticleStates early in the twentieth century by way of South America. A century earlier, large numbers of young Moroccan Jewish men went to the Amazon region in South America and achieved substantial business success by developing the Amazon's rubber trade. While some returned to Morocco after making their fortunes, many others remained in South America. When the South American rubber industry collapsed in 1910, most Moroccan Jews left the area, either returning to North Africa or moving on going to other opportunities in the Western Hemisphere. Although little documentation exists to trace their various routes, it is entirely possible that some of them entered the United States, either by boat or through Mexico.

The end of World War II and Morocco's subsequent independence from France in 1956 spurred a significant wave of Moroccan immigration to the United States. Prior to this time most Moroccans who emigrated went to Europe via Spain due to the close proximity of the two country's borders; this was true regardless of whether they were of Jewish or Arabic descent. After World War II, the vast majority of Sephardic Jews who left Morocco went to Israel. Some of these Jewish immigrants entered the United States, however. While the Moroccan government did not deport Jews from the country during the Holocaust, the political, social, and economic climate during and after the war was difficult for Moroccan Jews. Those who subsequently immigrated to the United States tended to settle in areas where earlier Sephardic immigrants from Spain, Turkey, or the Balkans had established communities.

Arabized Moroccans, however, did not begin to enter the United States in significant numbers until much later in the century, after the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act abolished the use of quotas, based on data from the 1920 Census, that had favored the entry of immigrants from northern and western Europe.

In general, less educated, unskilled laborers immigrated to Europe while educated professionals immigrated to the United States. The reason for this socioeconomic breakdown lies in the nature of immigration laws, as Spain and France welcomed unskilled migrants from Morocco and other North African countries until the late 1990s. It was easy, inexpensive, and quick to go back and forth across the Strait of Gibraltar, making this option attractive for workers who hoped to improve their earnings and then return to their homes and families. Furthermore, Spain's Moorish heritage and France's colonial dominance of the Maghreb—a geographical term describing the region of northwestern Africa that includes Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia—had established strong cultural and linguistic connections between these countries and Morocco. This undoubtedly eased the transition for migrants who sought opportunities there.

Since the first major wave of Moroccan immigrants to reach the United States in the wake of World War II, the number has grown steadily. Each decade witnessed an increase in Moroccans entering the United States in both the small business and corporate sector and predominantly in the academic environment with student visas. Many Moroccan Americans who have founded retail establishments maintain close business ties with Morocco, from which they obtain many goods for sale in the United States, including rugs and other textiles and crafts. Such trade is favorable to Morocco, and organizations in both Morocco and the United States facilitate increased reciprocal business between the two countries. In addition, many Moroccan Americans have close family members in Morocco and maintain frequent contact with them. While some immigrants have chosen to return to their homeland after finishing their educations, many have stayed in the United States as citizens. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Moroccan Americans in the United States almost doubled in the decade between 2000 and 2010, from roughly 38,000 to 75,000, as rising unemployment in northern Africa and western Europe led job seekers and students to seek opportunities in more distant locations. The American Community Survey estimated in 2010 that the states with the largest population of Moroccan Americans were California (8,147), Florida (8,858), New York (12,364), Massachusetts (6,471), New Jersey (4,481), and Virginia (4,839).

LANGUAGE

The official language of Morocco is Arabic, although French is still widely used in business, because Morocco was a French colony up until 1956. Spanish is also frequently spoken, particularly in the northern regions of the country. Standard Arabic, used in newspapers and broadcasts, speeches, and correspondence, is the language of the Quran (or Koran, the sacred book of Islam) and is understood throughout the contemporary Arab world. There are, however, many different dialects of the language spoken in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and North Africa. Moroccan Arabic, known as Derija, is recognized by its shortened vowel sounds.

While Arabic remains the main language spoken in Morocco as well as by Moroccan Americans in their homes, many immigrants speak English at their jobs and during the course of their daily lives in the United States. According to the 2011 American Community Survey estimates, one-third of Moroccan Americans speak only English in their homes. The traditional Moroccan language is spoken among friends in informal settings and when conducting business among people of their own nationality, although Moroccan Americans make a point of using English in mixed groups or when attempting to include Americans in conversations.

Greetings and Popular Expressions In Moroccan Arabic, the word for “hello” is ahlan. “Goodbye” is beslama. “How are you?” is “Labass alaik?” “Please” and “thank you” are affak and shoukran, respectively.

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CENGAGE LEARNING, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED CENGAGE LEARNING, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED U.S. Census Bureau, 2006–2010 American Community Survey

RELIGION

Although there are a small number of Christian and Jewish Moroccan American immigrants, the majority of Moroccans and Moroccan Americans practice Islam, which was founded in the seventh century CE by the Arabian prophet Muhammad. The faith quickly spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa and was established in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Balkan Peninsula, Turkey, and Malaysia. By the late twentieth century, Islam was the second-largest religion in the world (after Christianity); in 2012 there were an estimated 1.6 billion followers worldwide. The principal sects of Islam include the Sunni, Shi'ah, Sufi, and Ismaili Muslims. Most Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of the Malakite order, which differs from other schools of Sunni Islam in that it relies heavily upon the teachings of Malik ibn Anas (c. 715–795) of Medina, Saudi Arabia—where the prophet Muhammad is said to have lived and died—in its interpretation of the Quran.

The word Islam means “submission to the will of God” in Arabic. The Muslim faith is based on the Quran, the holy book considered God's revelation to humankind. Muslims believe that the Quran confirms and replaces earlier books of revelation, such as the Bible, and that the Prophet Muhammad is the last and most perfect of several prophets sent by God, including Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Although Muslims consider Jesus a prophet, they reject the Christian belief that he is the Messiah, or the son of God sent from heaven to forgive humans their sins and thereby save the world. Muslims believe in one omnipotent God (Allah), angels, revealed books (sacred texts handed down to people from Allah), the prophets, and the Day of Judgment. Muslims also believe strongly in predetermination—sometimes interpreted as fatalism.

Muslims are expected to practice the Five Pillars of Islam: to recite the profession of faith (“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the prophet of God”); to observe public and collective prayers five times a day; to pay a purification tax (zakat) to help support the poor; to abstain from food from sunup to sundown every day during the holy month of Ramadan; and to perform the hajj, or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. The most important religious concept of Islam is the Shari'ah, or the Law. The Shari'ah was formulated by Muslim theologians during the eighth and ninth centuries, and it encompasses teachings that address the entire way of life as commanded by God. These include such things as dietary restrictions, sexual mores, and other matters of conduct.

While most Moroccan Americans are Muslims, many “old world” Muslim traditions and strict interpretations of the Quran have become more lax as Moroccan Americans adapt to life in the United Page 250  |  Top of ArticleStates. Some traditional Islamic laws, from the commonplace, such as requiring women to cover and veil themselves in public, to the extreme, as in punishing adultery by death, have been widely dismissed in Morocco for some time and have little to no presence in Moroccan Americans' lives in the United States.

Moroccan Muslims have long played an active role in American religious life. In the 1930s a Moroccan Sunni Muslim named Sheikh Daoud Ahmad Faisal established plans to build the second-ever mosque in the New York area, founding the Islamic Mission of America for the Propagation of Islam and the Defense of the Faith and the Faithful in Brooklyn in 1938. Sheikh Daoud's proselytizing is credited with helping to introduce Islam to the African American community, and the Islamic Mission of America's Dawood Mosque in Brooklyn, New York City, continues to play a major role in the New York community, hosting interfaith conferences and events meant to foster relationships between Muslim Americans and the rest of American society.

CULTURE AND ASSIMILATION

Both Sephardic Jews and Sunni Muslims who migrated from Morocco to the United States were generally attracted to areas where other people of their respective faiths lived. The Sephardic Jews settled in religious communities with which they shared linguistic and cultural traditions. This practice united them with the country's larger Jewish community in some ways, but it also set them apart, as the vast majority of American Jews are of Ashkenazi descent, meaning that their ancestors had settled in Germany and eastern Europe. Ashkenazi Jews living in the United States developed cultural traditions that differed from those observed by the Sephardim. Sephardic Jews, for example, spoke Ladino and Arabic rather than Yiddish or German, pronounced Hebrew words differently from the Ashkenazim, used different melodies in religious services, and served North African or Iberian versions of kosher foods during holidays. Some Sephardic Jews in the United States have felt that their culture is little appreciated and resent the fact that Ashkenazi traditions have largely determined American conceptions of Jewishness. In addition, some have felt that their relatively dark skin has caused them to be treated with prejudice. Yet their shared Jewish identity still connected Sephardic immigrants with those of Ashkenazi descent and helped them adapt to life in the United States, where the Jewish community has worked hard to combat anti-Semitic attitudes and to achieve social and economic success.

Arab people in the United States, including Moroccans of Arab descent, have also had to deal with prejudice. From the earliest days of Arabic Moroccans' post—World War II immigration to the United States, Americans have sometimes been suspicious of Arabs, due largely to the fact that Americans have been less exposed to Islam, the predominant religion of the Arab world, than to Judaism and Christianity. In addition, the United States' strong political ties to Israel have fostered mistrust of Arabic groups—in particular the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which has been locked in a violent conflict with Israel since the country's establishment in 1948—despite the fact that Morocco has long maintained diplomatic relations with Israel. The activities of other extremist Islamic groups, such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, and the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombings have created negative stereotypes of Arab Muslims in the United States. Although the Moroccans' history has differed dramatically from that of Middle Eastern Arabs, Americans have tended to view all Arabs as a monolithic group, and Moroccan Americans are sometimes treated with undue suspicion. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, for example, a Moroccan American teenager, Salah Eddin Barhoum, and his friend were falsely accused on the front page of the New York Post of committing the attacks, forcing Barhoum and his family to go into hiding until the true culprits were apprehended several days later. However, because Moroccans typically enter the United States as students or with high levels of education and job skills, they tend to assimilate into American culture rather than live in smaller, isolated communities. By blending in with American society, the Moroccan American community has generally encountered a more positive environment than that of less educated or more traditional Arab immigrants.

Traditions and Customs Moroccan culture is traditionally centered around the souk, an open-air market where artisans peddle goods, musicians and dancers perform, and people gather for shopping, conversations over a cup of tea, and meals. Handshakes are common greetings in public places, though close friends or family may be greeted with kisses on the cheeks.

Moroccans are known for being quite generous, and it is very common for them to extend invitations to friends and new acquaintances to visit their homes for lunch or dinner. These events often last for many hours, and guests typically bring small gifts such as flowers, figs, or dates to share with their hosts. The meal is usually shared at a low, round table, with guests seated on carpets or cushions on the floor and food served in a large bowl at the center of the table, which is eaten from using the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean. Guests' hands are washed with rose or orange-infused water before the meal, and the food is blessed by saying “Bismillah,” (“in the name of God”). The meal concludes with the pronouncement “Al Hamdu Lillah,” (“thanks be to God”).

Other traditions in Morocco include visiting public bath houses, or hammams. Hammams cater to both men and women, though with separate areas Page 251  |  Top of Articlefor each gender. The bath house experience typically includes a steam room and a bathing room, where paid attendants or companions will scrub customers' skin with an olive oil–based soap known as sabon beldi and sometimes offer massages with scented oils. Sporting events, such as football (soccer) matches, are also popular meeting places, though mostly for men.

Although the United States has no direct equivalents to Moroccan cultural centers such as souks, hammams, or tea houses, Moroccan Americans are largely able to uphold their traditional dining practices and methods of greeting and socializing with their neighbors in the United States at home or in farmer's markets, mosques, and the increasingly common Moroccan restaurants found in urban areas. Organizations such as the Moroccan American Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., the Moroccan American House Association in New York, and the Moroccan Association of Chicago also offer opportunities for Moroccan Americans to gather and share their culture and customs with other Americans, including feasts, speeches, celebrations during Ramadan and other Islamic holidays, and soccer tournaments. Because Morocco is a very diverse country, Moroccan Americans rarely have trouble integrating with other American ethnic groups.

Cuisine Situated on the route of the Arabia–North Africa spice trade, Morocco developed traditional foods enhanced by such exotic flavorings as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, saffron, cumin, cayenne, anise, and sesame seed. Native crops of mint, olives, oranges, lemons, prickly pear, pomegranates, almonds, dates, walnuts, chestnuts, barley, melons, and cherries further increased available ingredients. Fish was plentiful along the Atlantic coast, whereas inland areas produced lamb and poultry as well as honey.

In Morocco the main meal is eaten at midday (except during the holy month of Ramadan, in which the Muslim faithful fast until sundown). A typical main meal begins with hot and cold salads. Some popular salads are made with mixed herbs, with eggplant, or with greens and oranges. During Ramadan, Moroccans typically break their fast with harira, a soup made with milk, dates, and boiled eggs.

After the salad course, Moroccan cooks typically serve main dishes that include meat and vegetables, followed by couscous. One of the most familiar Moroccan foods in American supermarkets, couscous is made from grains of very fine semolina (wheat) steamed until barely soft. It has a delicate, rather bland taste that sets off the spicier flavors in the dishes that accompany it. Traditional couscous takes a significant amount of preparation time, as the grains are soaked and washed multiple times before the 45-minute cooking process begins. While mass-produced couscous that is similar to grits or Italian pasta in that it takes only minutes to prepare is available in most grocery stores across the United States, Moroccan Americans usually prefer to cook with authentic couscous.

Other dishes include chicken with lemon and olives, a traditional Moroccan favorite. Another popular dish is chicken tagine, which includes butter, onions, pepper, saffron, chickpeas, almonds, and lemon. The dish is named tagine after the terracotta pot it in which it is prepared. Other tagines include lamb, beef, and fish. Chicken is also stuffed with raisins, almonds, rice, or eggs. Moroccans often use fish in stews, but they also serve it fried or stuffed. A popular recipe that suggests a strong Spanish influence combines fish with tomatoes, green peppers, and potatoes. Lamb, which has been called the “king of the Moroccan table,” is served in a variety of ways. Mechoui is a holiday dish in which lamb is seasoned with paprika, cumin, butter, and salt and then roasted. Lamb is also roasted on skewers as shish kebab or can be braised, browned, or steamed. Kefta is a mixture of spicy lamb or beef that is rolled into a sausage shape and then cooked on a skewer or broiled. It is also rolled into meatballs that are used in tagines.

Other traditional Moroccan dishes include bisteeya, a savory pastry with possible Persian or Chinese origins. In this dish, layers of shredded chicken, eggs curdled in lemon-onion sauce, and sweetened almonds are wrapped in a paper-thin pastry called warka, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Moroccans also enjoy both Arab-style bread and pita bread. Desserts are not frequently served, but sweetened green tea flavored with fresh mint traditionally ends the meal on a sweet note. A flat, round bread called khubz is commonly served with most Moroccan dishes and serves as a point of pride for Moroccan cooks, who often bake a fresh loaf every morning to serve with the day's meals.

Variations on Moroccan cuisine are served in some of the finest restaurants across the United States, some prepared in the traditional form and others a mix or fusion of French, Spanish, and American elements. Moroccan Americans do not always eat the food of their homeland, however. Many newly immigrated Moroccans tend to explore the vast array of American and European inspired foods available in the states. The fast-paced work environment mixed with the fact that both men and women often work in the United States makes it inconvenient to spend a great deal of time preparing meals. While traditional cuisine is often served in the homes of Moroccan Americans, the food often includes different, substituted ingredients and takes less time to prepare.

Traditional Dress Because Morocco is a multicultural country, there is a great diversity of dress among Moroccans. More conservative Moroccans may wear traditional clothing, while those who identify as “continental” wear clothing more closely aligned with Western European fashion.

The kaftan, a long, loose-fitting robe, is still worn throughout much of Morocco, in both rural and urban Page 252  |  Top of Articleareas, though most often during special occasions. It is a garment well suited to Morocco's climate, protecting wearers from the harsh sun and allowing for ventilation, but also providing warmth for chilly nights. A more common garment for Moroccan women is called a djellaba, which is a long, hooded, loose-fitting robe that is often accompanied by intricately designed scarves. Men also wear djellabas, though without the matching scarf. The traditional headgear for Moroccan men is the fez, named after the Moroccan city of the same name. It is a close-fitting red felt hat with a flattened top and a tassel worn to the side. The fez became common throughout much of the Islamic world but is thought to have originated in Morocco. Today, the fez has becoming something of a relic and is typically only worn in the company of tourists. In earlier years, Moroccan women, like those in other Islamic countries, wore veils to cover their faces in public. Although this custom has largely disappeared in urban parts of the country, women in rural areas sometimes still wear full or partial veils.

In the United States traditional dress is often abandoned, as the majority of adult Moroccan Americans work at professional jobs that often require suits or uniforms specific to their trade, and younger generations begin to adopt a typical Western style of dress. The traditional kaftan, which is well suited to the warm North African environment, is not always appropriate for certain regions of the United States or seasons in this hemisphere. Many Moroccan American women hold jobs equal to those of their male counterparts, so the traditional full or partial veil is not as common as it once was, though some women do wear headscarves by choice, as a symbol of their religious convictions. Moroccan Americans will also wear traditional outfits on holidays or for religious purposes as they see fit.

Dances and Songs A Moroccan dance tradition that has become familiar to many Americans is Shikat, or belly dancing. The term refers to the closely controlled abdominal movements the female dancers make to achieve a rapid rhythmic swaying of the belly and hips. Belly dancers wear a tight garment similar to a brassiere and wide, flowing trousers gathered at the ankle. They use coordinating long scarves or shawls to accentuate their graceful arm and hand movements, and they often ornament their brows with headbands decorated with jewels or old coins. Belly dancing is often offered as entertainment at Moroccan and Middle Eastern restaurants in the United States. During the 1970s and 1980s, many American women became interested in learning how to belly dance, and in the twenty-first century American dance organizations have organized classes, tournaments, and events such as Wiggles of the West and Rakkasah West that have served to maintain American interest in the dance style. Some of the earliest Moroccan American immigrants may have come to the states through this tradition as well, when several Moroccan dancers known as “whirling dervishes” refused to return to their homeland in 1904. They renounced their allegiance to the Sultan of Morocco and sought asylum in the St. Louis, although they were later deported by the U.S. Department of Immigration.

Other traditional Moroccan dances include the Guedra, a circle dance performed by veiled women that is common among the Amazigh, and the Tissint, a folk dance performed by both men and women, in which a male holding a dagger slowly advances upon a female dancer until the blade is at the female's throat and the male falls suddenly to his knees. The Tissint is often performed during marriage ceremonies.

Moroccan music reflects the country's hybrid culture, blending Arabic, African, and European influences. Gnaoua music, a product of African slaves from Mali being brought to Morocco in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, combines religious Arabic songs with African rhythms. Every year the city of Essaouira, Morocco, holds a popular Gnaoua music festival that has been called “Morocco's answer to Woodstock.” One of the most prominent Gnaoua bands, Nass El Ghiwane, has found an international audience; it was featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ. In May 2011 Hassan Hakmoun, a Moroccan American musician, organized a concert by several renowned Gnaoua groups at Florence Gould Hall in New York that was favorably received by a culturally diverse audience.

Andaloussi music is traced to Abu Hassan Ali Ben Nafi, who fled Baghdad in the ninth century to settle in Cordoba, in the part of Spain then ruled by Morocco. More popular, or folk, music is called Chaabi. Many contemporary Moroccan singers record in this style. Instruments used in traditional Moroccan music include the tbal, a double-headed drum, and the querqbat, or metal castanets. Others are the tam-bour (tambourine); the oudh, or lute; the buzuq, a larger and deep-toned stringed instrument; the rebab, a stringed instrument something like a dulcimer and played with a bow; the tablah, a small hand drum; and the qanun, similar to a zither. Two reed instruments are also used: the ney, a single-reed pipe; and the maqrum, a double-reed clarinet.

In recent decades, hip-hop has become an increasingly popular musical style in Morocco. Groups such as Fnaire, DJ Key, and H-Kayne are particularly well-liked by Moroccan youth, who share music from with second- and third-generation Moroccan Americans who visit the country during the summer months. In 2006 American filmmaker Joshua Asen received a Fulbright grant from the U.S. State Department to film a documentary on Moroccan hip-hop culture titled I Love Hip Hop in Morocco, which was later screened at venues throughout the United States.

Moroccan music has been studied and appreciated in the United States since the earliest Moroccan Page 253  |  Top of Articleimmigrants arrived in the mid-twentieth century. In 1959 the U.S. Library of Congress sponsored a tour of Morocco by author and composer Paul Bowles, who recorded samples of Moroccan music that were later issued in the United States as a two LP set titled Music of Morocco (1972). Moroccan music is still celebrated in the United States as it is played in the homes of Moroccan Americans and at cultural as well as religious functions. In 2007 the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., hosted the Genesis World Music Ensemble, in which musicians from Israel and across the Arab world—including acclaimed Moroccan singer and lute player Haj Youness—performed together in a symbol of unity. In 2011 Moroccan singer and human rights activist Saida Fikri organized the Magical Morocco festival in Stamford, Connecticut, complete with musical performances, food, dance, and art. The Moroccan American center in Washington, D.C., along with the Foundation for Middle East Peace and the Moroccan Embassy, hold a series of mixers known as “Talk Souk” for students and young professionals in the area to embrace their Moroccan heritage through dance, food, and music.

Arts and Crafts Moroccans are recognized as strong artisans, skilled in jewelry making, sculpture, and textiles, among other arts. In 2011 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York staged a Moroccan Courtyard exhibit as a centerpiece for its Islamic Art Galleries, complete with sculpted archways handcrafted by several Moroccan and Moroccan American artists. Beautiful woven tapestries, ornate carpets, and stylish clothing are just some of the fiber arts produced by Moroccans and Moroccan Americans. The ancient art of henna, in which designs are drawn on the skin with a temporary, plant-based dye, provides an alternative to body art for those unwilling to commit to a permanent tattoo. Traditionally associated with Moroccan women's rituals surrounding mourning, procreation, and weddings, henna tattooing has become quite popular in the United States, with people of all generations, both male and female.

Holidays Moroccan Americans who are Muslims celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Occurring late in the calendar year, Ramadan is a period of fasting and purification. During the thirty days of Ramadan, nothing—no food, drink, or cigarette smoke—is allowed to pass the lips from daybreak to sunset. This twelve-hour fast is then broken each night with the iftar, a celebratory family meal. During Ramadan, the faithful donate food and money to the needy, and spend time in prayer. Ramadan ends with the Eid al-Fitr, a special feast during which holiday foods are served and presents are given.

The most common celebrations of Moroccan holidays in the United States are religious in nature: the Moroccan Society of Houston, for example, hosts an annual Ramadan Iftar, as well as a celebration of Eid al-Adha, the feast in honor of the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his firstborn son. Likewise, the Moroccan American Community Organization of Chicago offers an annual Eid Festival to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Other important Moroccan national holidays observed by both Muslims and Jews include the Presentation of Moroccan Independence Proclamation on January 11, Throne Day (commemorating King Mohammed VI's ascension to the throne) on July 30, and the Feast of Morocco's Independence from France on November 18. While not all of these holidays are observed by Moroccan Americans with as much fervor as they are in Morocco, they are still considered an important part of Moroccan heritage. In the United States these political holidays are sometimes commemorated with dinners, dances, or musical performances in community centers.

Health Care Issues and Practices Health issues among Moroccan Americans differ greatly from those in their homeland. Many medical issues in Morocco are directly related to malnutrition, poverty, and limited availability of health care. Many areas of Morocco have poor sanitation levels and lack access to clean water, and there is a shortage of hospitals, doctors, and nurses in the country. Major diseases, such as cholera, hepatitis, HIV, and internal parasites like giardia and hookworm, are all prevalent in Morocco. Health care in Morocco is mostly available for the upper-middle class and above. Because the majority of Moroccan Americans are from this well-educated, higher class, they generally fall into the category of Americans with health care. Medical studies suggest that some general health problems shared by people of Arab descent include sickle-cell anemia, malaria, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Immigrants from Morocco often experience dental problems as well from their higher intake of processed foods upon arrival to the United States. Death rates in Morocco are generally higher than that of Moroccan Americans due to the lack of doctors and hospitals and unsanitary conditions among the lower class.

Death and Burial Rituals Jewish and Muslim Moroccans follow the death and burial rituals of their respective faiths. For instance, Muslims believe that the body of the deceased must be buried no later than twenty-four hours after death. Preparation of the body is done by the family at home with the help of a caregiver from the community. Moroccan Americans follow the practices of their faiths as well, but a more rigid sense of legality applies, with the issuance of a death certificate and other formalities in accordance with U.S. laws. Some Moroccan Americans choose to adhere to their cultural heritage surrounding the burial practices, while others conform to American standards of church services and funeral homes.

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MOROCCAN PROVERBS

Moroccans use proverbs quite liberally in their speech in order to clarify situations or provide insight. Some proverbs are religious in nature, while others are related to everyday occurrences, bits of wisdom, or elements of culture like food or music.

  • Believe what you see and lay aside what you hear.
  • A wise woman has much to say and yet remains silent.
  • He who follows the right path, thorns will not hurt him.
  • He who wants honey should tolerate bee stings.
  • Evening promises are like butter: morning comes, and it's all melted.
  • A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.

Proverbs are often spoken in a call-and-response fashion; one speaker will deliver the first part, and the other will reply with second half as the sole means of discourse in passing.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY LIFE

Moroccan Americans maintain many of the cultural norms and traditions surrounding the family unit in their native land. The family is still largely ruled as a patriarchy, with men taking the dominant role as breadwinners and women tending to the house and raising of the family. The Moroccan American community has adapted relatively easily to American's secular urban society, but their small numbers and their dispersal throughout cities across the country have presented challenges to the maintenance of ethnic unity. Moroccans in the United States, who are scattered across the country in many different urban areas or college towns, have increasingly used the Internet to share information about themselves and keep in touch with others who share their background.

Gender Roles In traditional Moroccan households, as with most Islamic cultures, family dynamics are strictly patriarchal, with the husband accorded power and the wife relegated to a subordinate status. Families tended to be large because of a 1939 law that made the advertisement or distribution of birth control illegal. However, with the repeal of the contraceptive ban by royal decree in 1967 and the subsequent modernization efforts in Morocco, family dynamics also changed. In 2004, for example, the Moroccan parliament made a number of changes to the country's Moudawana, or Islamic family code, raising the minimum age of marriage from fifteen to eighteen, allowing women the right to divorce their husbands, and making it illegal for husbands to punish their wives with physical violence. Certainly, access to education has changed family relationships throughout much of the country as women have entered the workforce and gained more autonomy. Among Moroccan families in the United States, many women work outside the home and balance careers with family obligations.

Although Moroccan culture was heavily influenced by Arabic traditions, Amazigh customs generally accorded women more freedoms than they enjoyed in Middle Eastern Arab countries. Even in the modern era, though, males still dominate society and are given more opportunities to succeed and general freedoms than their female counterparts. Women are in charge of daily tasks around the household, and girls as young as five assist their mothers around the house with cleaning, cooking, babysitting, and other chores. Unlike many Muslim countries, where women are not allowed to receive an education or seek employment, women in higher-class Moroccan families are given opportunities to attend schools and work professional jobs in education, law, and medicine. Moroccan American women, who enjoy a relatively high level of education, are likely to work outside the home, with the 2011 American Community Survey indicating that over half of all Moroccan American women over the age of sixteen were in the labor force. Moroccan American women are provided with even more opportunities than their counterparts in the homeland. As citizens of the United States, they are given equal rights to men and the right to vote, although in the home they are still oftentimes seen as subservient to their male counterparts. In Morocco unmarried women experience relatively difficult lives both economically and socially; single Moroccan American women experience less hardship because their opportunity for success in the work environment is far greater.

Education Schooling in Morocco is compulsory for both girls and boys from ages seven through fifteen, but according to the CIA World Factbook, in 2012 the country's literacy rate was only 56.1 percent (68.9 percent for males and 43.9 percent for females). Moroccans who have settled in the United States, though, generally had higher levels of education and stronger job skills. Many arrived as students and furthered their education at American colleges and universities. The Moroccan American community values education as an important means of acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a commercial and high-tech economy. The American Community Survey estimated that in 2011 over one-third of all Moroccan Americans were enrolled in college or graduate school. Many Moroccan students Page 255  |  Top of Articlereturn to their native country after graduating, as their likelihood of gaining employment there becomes far greater with an American education.

Courtship and Weddings Even in the modern world, Moroccan parents still exert some influence over their adult child's choice of a husband or wife, though this is becoming increasingly less common, particularly among Moroccan Americans. According to Islamic law, Muslim women must marry within their faith; however, Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women. In the United States especially, it is not uncommon for a Moroccan American man to marry a woman of different ethnic or religious background, while it is less common—though not unheard of—for a Moroccan American woman to marry outside of her religious and ethnic group. In traditional Moroccan courtship, the groom offers his future wife's family a bride price for the woman's hand in marriage, and the bride's family prepares a dowry and ensures that the girl is a virgin.

Weddings in Morocco are festive affairs, generally held during the summer months and often lasting for several days. Special garments are painstakingly woven and embroidered for the bride and groom. So important are these costumes that wedding garments from the city of Fez are exhibited on poles during parades on national holidays. Often, the bride orders several garments to be worn during the course of a long wedding. For the ceremony itself, the groom wears a long, loose-fitting garment called a jellaba, and the bride wears the traditional long head shawl and kaftan. Special textiles are also used during the bride's henna ceremony, in which intricate patterns are traced on her hands with henna, a temporary red dye. Traditionally, a set of velvet accessories, embroidered with gold thread, is used for this custom. The mendil, a large rectangular cloth, is placed on the bride's lap while two pillows support her arms. Two special mitts protect her decorated hands. A special domed canopy, also decorated with gold thread, is used to cover the bride and groom while they are carried on trays above their guests. While divorce does occur in Morocco, it is looked upon as a disgrace, and statistics show that divorce is more common among Moroccan families of lower income than of higher income. Polygamy is also tolerated among Moroccan Muslims, although it is rare, and the practice is illegal in the United States.

Moroccan American weddings differ from traditional Moroccan weddings, with variations depending on the local community. In larger Moroccan American neighborhoods, cultural traditions hold more true, as there are a greater number of churches, cultural centers, and mosques available for such affairs, though events are usually limited to a single day rather than spanning several days. Moroccan American brides are typically adorned in henna and may change clothes between the ceremony and reception. Receptions include Moroccan music, dance, and foods such as tagine, though an American-style wedding cake is often served alongside more traditional Moroccan sweets and pastries. In more isolated areas, Moroccan Americans may keep their religious and marital practices in the home or attend less traditional churches or mosques that are not strictly related to Moroccan culture.

Although the United States has no direct equivalents to Moroccan cultural centers such as souks, hammams, or tea houses, Moroccan Americans are largely able to uphold their traditional dining practices and methods of greeting and socializing with their neighbors in the United States at home or in farmer's markets, mosques, and the increasingly common Moroccan restaurants found in urban areas.

Relations with Other Americans Arabized Berber immigrants from Morocco found only limited common ground with the existing Arab American community, which was overwhelmingly Christian until the influx of Palestinians and other Middle Eastern Arabs after the creation of Israel in 1948. These earliest groups of Arab Americans were the descendants of Syrian Christians, mostly merchants and traders, who had moved to the United States in the late 1800s. The newer Palestinian immigrants, however, were Muslim. Moroccans shared a linguistic tradition with both these groups and shared a religious affiliation with the Palestinians, but much in Moroccan history and culture differed from the Middle Eastern Arab experience. Moroccan Americans have not been excluded from the many Arab American associations that emerged to counteract prejudice and advocate for better access to jobs and social services in the United States. However, few Moroccan immigrants have allied themselves with such organizations because their focus is emphatically on the conditions that affect Arab immigrants from the Middle East.

In most large American cities, there are Moroccan organizations that seek to unify immigrants as well as share their country's culture with the greater community. Washington, D.C., home of the Moroccan Embassy, also has the Moroccan American Center, a nonprofit organization that shares Moroccan culture with the local community. Other organizations include the Moroccan Society of Houston, the Moroccan American House Association, and the Association of Moroccan Professionals in America. These organizations hold conventions, host message boards for members, share community concerns, raise awareness of issues affecting Moroccan Americans, and provide scholarships and aid to people in need, among other services. With the advent of the Internet, Moroccan American immigrants also connect via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media outlets to stay informed of issues within their respective communities and in their native country.

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EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS

During the 1980s and 1990s many Moroccans entered the United States to attend colleges, universities, graduate schools, and medical schools. After completing their educations, some remained to begin careers in such professions as banking, engineering, computer science, medicine, architecture, journalism, research, and teaching. Other Moroccan immigrants have set up small businesses such as retail establishments or restaurants. Shops dealing in textiles (especially rugs), pottery, jewelry, and other handcrafts from Morocco have found a receptive clientele in the United States, as have restaurants featuring traditional Moroccan foods and entertainment. By the early twenty-first century, Moroccan Americans had branched out into all fields of business. While some immigrants live in tight-knit communities and run traditional businesses, many Moroccan Americans have assimilated into mainstream American culture as doctors, lawyers, and teachers as well as actors, athletes, and writers. According to the 2011 American Community Survey, the most common fields for Moroccan Americans were health care and education, followed by positions in the service industry, the arts, and retail.

POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

The U.S. government has maintained strong diplomatic relations with the government of Morocco since Muhammed Ibn Abdullah, sultan of Morocco, first


A Moroccan American woman displays her new American citizenship certificate following a naturalization ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, 2010. A Moroccan American woman displays her new American citizenship certificate following a naturalization ceremony in Charleston, South Carolina, 2010. RICHARD ELLIS / GETTY IMAGES

recognized the independent United States in 1777 and signed a friendship treaty along with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1778. In 1957, the year after Morocco gained its independence, then–Vice President Richard Nixon visited Morocco to extend an official congratulation and reaffirm U.S.-Morocco ties. In 1999 President Bill Clinton visited Morocco to attend the funeral of King Hassan II, and in 2004 the United States and Morocco signed a landmark Free Trade Agreement, the first trade agreement signed between the United States and a country on the African continent. It eliminated tariffs on over 95 percent of goods exchanged between the two nations and paved the way for several American companies, including Dell and Fruit of the Loom, to open factories and offices in Morocco.

Because Moroccan immigrants to the United States are highly educated, they have been very quick to establish advocacy groups aimed at improving conditions in Morocco and strengthening opportunities for Moroccan Americans. The Moroccan American Center in Washington, D.C., operates both the Moroccan American Center for Policy and the Moroccan American Trade and Investment Council, which seek to influence public and private investment initiatives in Morocco. Other groups, such as the Morocco Foundation and Association of Moroccan Professionals in America, organize fundraisers and other events meant to provide relief for Moroccans living in poverty, particularly children.

NOTABLE INDIVIDUALS

Activism Hassan Samrhouni (1952–), a Moroccan-born activist who immigrated to the United States in 1982, is the CEO of Casablanca Travel and Tours and the founder of the Washington Morocco Club.

Government John Fritchey (1964–), a Louisiana-born second-generation Moroccan American, served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1996 to 2010.

Literature Ruth Knafo Setton (1951–), a Sephardic Jew born in Said, Morocco, has established herself as a significant voice in American letters. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous publications. Setton has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and two Pennsylvania Council of Arts fellowships. She is the author of the novel The Road to Fez (2001) and teaches at Lafayette College.

Moroccan American author Laila Lalami (1968–) has written several books from the Moroccan perspective, including her second novel in English, Secret Son (2009), about belonging and identity.

Sports Khalid Khannouchi (1971–), born in Meknes, Morocco, immigrated to the United States in 1992. He holds world records in both the marathon and 20 km distance races.

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Stage and Screen Danny Nucci (1968–) is a Moroccan American actor who has starred in such films as Eraser (1996), The Rock (1996), and Titanic (1997) as well as the TV shows Criminal Minds, Twilight Zone, House M.D., and The Mentalist.

Khaleed Leon (Khleo) Thomas (1989–), is a musician and actor who has appeared in the films Holes (2003), Walking Tall (2004), and Roll Bounce (2005).

MEDIA

Full Text: 

Morocco News Board

This news board is a source for Moroccan American affairs and contains news, local events, commentary, links, classifieds, and other sources for Moroccan immigrants and other interested parties. It encourages the Moroccan American community to become active participants in American business, society, and politics.

Mostapha Saout, Editor
Phone: (703) 623-8421
Fax: (888) 747-0957
Email: info@moroccoboard.com
URL: www.moroccoboard.com

Morocco World News

This news site is dedicated to reporting news of interest to Moroccans, Moroccan Americans, and other interested parties. It strives to bring people of different backgrounds together in a greater understanding of the needs of Morocco and the country's immigrant population in the United States.

30-23, 42nd Street
Apt 3L
Queens, New York 11103
Phone: (312) 282-6909
Email: info@moroccoworldnews.com
URL: www.moroccoworldnews.com

Wafin: Moroccan Connections in America

“Wafin” translates to “what's up” or “what's new.” The site allows users to find Moroccan businesses, stay on top of Moroccan events, and discuss topics important to Moroccans and Moroccan Americans.

Gourad Media Group LLC
P.O. Box 874
Georgetown, Connecticut 06829-0874
Phone: (203) 340-6537
Fax: (203) 659-4791
Email: info@wafin.com
URL: www.wafin.com

ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS

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Association of Moroccan Professionals in America

This association promotes networking between Moroccan American business professionals as well as community service and education opportunities for Moroccan Americans.

P.O. Box 77254
San Francisco, California 94107
Fax: (801) 996-6334
URL: www.amp-usa.org

Friends of Morocco (FOM)

Established in 1988 with the intention of “promoting educational, cultural, charitable, social, literary and scientific exchange between Morocco and the United States of America,” FOM maintains a “yellow pages” of organizations of interest to Moroccan Americans.

Tim Resch, President
P.O. Box 2579
Washington, D.C. 20013-2579
Phone: (703) 470-3166
Fax: (202) 219-0509
Email: timresch@gmail.com
URL: http://friendsofmorocco.org/

Moroccan American Business Council Ltd. (MABC)

The MABC was created to strengthen business ties and friendly relations between Morocco and the United States.

Ron Leavell, Executive Director
1085 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Phone: (508) 230-5985
Fax: (508) 230-9943
Email: Info@usa-morocco.org
URL: www.usa-morocco.org

The Moroccan American House Association

This association is involved with Moroccan American community building, religious teachings, and legal assistance for immigrants to New York specifically as well as the greater United States.

307 Bayridge Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11220
Phone: (347) 513-1399
Email: info@moroccanamericanhouse.com
URL: http://moroccanamericanhouse.com/

Moroccan Association of Chicago (MAC)

The MAC is a nonprofit organization that promotes community involvement among Chicago-area Moroccan Americans. Events include religious celebrations, professional workshops, fundraisers, and an annual soccer tournament.

Email: MAC-US@hotmail.com
URL: http://mac-us.org

Morocco Foundation

Founded in 2004, the Morocco Foundation is a nonprofit group aimed at alleviating poverty in Morocco. Members organize fundraisers and events to promote schooling for underprivileged children and to provide material aid to rural communities in Morocco.

Nadia Serhani
6423 Richmond Hwy.
# 301
Alexandria, Virginia 22306

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Phone: (703) 577-5317
Email: info@moroccofoundation.org
URL: www.moroccofoundation.org

MUSEUMS AND RESEARCH CENTERS

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American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS)

Established in 1984, this scholarly association focuses on North African history and culture. It sponsors the Journal of North African Studies, provides grants for scholarship on the region, and organizes an annual conference and workshop.

845 N. Park Avenue
Marshall Building
Room 470
P.O. Box 210158-B
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0158
Phone: (520) 626-6498
Fax: (520) 621-9257
Email: aims@aimsnorthafrica.org
URL: www.aimsnorthafrica.org

Moroccan American Center

This conglomeration consists of three centers: The Moroccan American Center for Policy, the Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center, and the Moroccan American Cultural Center. Based in Washington, D.C., these groups deal with all aspects of Moroccan immigrants' adjustment to life in the United States.

Fatima-Zohra Kurtz, Executive Director
1220 L Street NW
Suite 411
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 587-0855
Email: info@moroccanamericancenter.com
URL: http://moroccoonthemove.wordpress.com

Moroccan Studies Program at the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies

This Harvard University program is the only one of its kind in the United States; it is devoted to teaching about the history, politics, culture, and arts of Morocco.

William Granara, Director
38 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Phone: (617) 495-4055
Fax: (617) 496-8584
Email: cmes@fas.harvard.edu
URL: http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/research/msp

SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL STUDY

Ben-Ur, Aviva. Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

Bibas, David. Immigrants and the Formation of Community: A Case Study of Moroccan Jewish Immigration to America. New York: AMS Press, 1998.

Dellal, Mohamed, and Amar Sellam, eds. Moroccan Culture in the 21st Century: Globalization, Challenges and Prospects. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Publishers, 2013.

Edwards, Brian T. Morocco Bound: Disorienting America's Maghreb, from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

Lahlou, Mourad. Mourad: New Moroccan. New York: Artisan, 2011.

Miller, Susan Gilson. “Kippur on the Amazon.” Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewries: History and Culture. Jewish Theological Seminary, 1996.

Pratt, Ruth Marcus. The Sephardim of New Jersey. Jewish Historical Society of Central New Jersey, 1992.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300126