By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 3/7/2006 | 2:45 pm
Will March 8 bring something new for the Moroccan women regarding the ratification of the nationality code, which prevented in the past children from Moroccan women and foreign fathers from their rights as Moroccan citizens?
Will World Women's day be an occasion for the Moroccan government to announce what it has done to implement the instructions of the King who granted the citizenship to children born to Moroccan mothers?
Moroccan women all over the world welcomed with great joy and satisfaction the King's decision to grant their children born to non-Moroccan father the right to obtain the Moroccan citizenship. However, their hope soon faded when faced with the slow implementation of the King's instructions by the Moroccan government.
King Mohammed VI declared on July 30, 2005, that children born to Moroccan mothers will now enjoy the right to obtain Moroccan citizenship that children of Moroccan fathers already enjoy.
"I have decided, in my capacity as King and Amir Al Muminin (Commander of the Faithful), that a child born to a Moroccan mother shall have the right to obtain Moroccan citizenship," announced HM King Mohammed VI in an address to the nation on Throne Day (30 July).
The king's promise of citizenship equality for children of Moroccan mothers and children of Moroccan fathers brought long-awaited relief in Morocco and abroad.
He explained his decision was made as part of his ongoing commitment "to build a united nation committed to democracy and a principle of gender equality that preserves the rights of children and protects the unity and harmony of the family and its authentic national identity."
Bouchra Moftazada, a Moroccan born in Casablanca to an Egyptian father, welcomed the new citizenship law with joy and satisfaction.
"You can't imagine my feelings ... I have been longing for this for more than 23 years," Bouchra told Morocco Times.
If the code is applied, Bouchra will no longer have to go to local authorities every year to renew her residence permit, without which she could face deportation. She tried unsuccessfully for 23 years to obtain Moroccan citizenship, and is still waiting for the implementation of the code.
Naîma Chaimouma, the daughter of a non-Moroccan father, also expressed her joy on hearing King Mohammed VI's speech. "My feelings were... I felt as if I were a newborn. 30 July is my real birthday from now on."
She is now awaiting the official enactment of the new nationality law in order to apply for Moroccan citizenship.
Without citizenship papers, the only document proving Chaimouma's existence is her birth certificate. Documentation is necessary in Morocco for rights such as education, healthcare, and marriage.
The children of Moroccan mothers have always applied for citizenship, but many were discouraged by the complexity and slowness of the process.
F. Khadija, another Moroccan, fled Algeria after the death of her husband to start a new life in her native country. However, a few days after arriving in Morocco, her daughter received an expulsion order. Unwilling to be separated from her child, Khadija was forced to leave the country.
Naima and others in her situation are pleased with the fact King Mohammed VI has instructed the government to swiftly finalize the new nationality law. But now, after seven months, the concerned women are still waiting for a move from the government.
To put pressure on the government to hasten the procedures, several actors in the women's field have created an association aiming at examining the problems resulting from mixed marriages, among which the citizenship of the children born to Moroccan mothers and foreign fathers.
This initiative came as a reaction to the failure of the government to smooth and speed up the procedures related to the issue of citizenship and its incapacity to deal with hundreds of citizenship applications which are still stocked on the shelves of the relevant ministry.