France's current migration policy continues to hinder the entry and travel of Moroccan citizens to the European country. Almost a year after Paris announced the reduction of visas for Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, people in the Kingdom continue to complain that applications are rejected without convincing justification.
Public and private sector workers such as engineers, doctors, former ministers and also students have tried to acquire a French visa without success, provoking outrage among Moroccan society. "I am being deprived of the right to travel, something that is fundamental," writes on Twitter a citizen who lived for 15 years in France, according to Jeune Africa.
In addition to generating outrage and anger, this measure is perceived as a humiliation, as Hajar stresses to Middle East Eye. "This is the first time I have been denied a visa", says the Moroccan, who recalls that all his previous stays in the Schenguen area "have gone well". "What risk do I represent for France? It's incomprehensible", he adds.
Many Moroccan citizens have taken to social media to express their anger and denounce their situation. Some of the stories have gone viral and have even reached former members of the French government, who have expressed their solidarity with those affected.
Cécile Duflot, former minister of Territorial Equality and Housing in the government of former president François Hollande, has appealed to the French embassy in Morocco, attaching the story of a boy who regrets that his mother and grandmother could not attend the wedding of a relative in Paris after they were denied visas. "The administration sometimes lacks heart, but there are always people capable of solving problems," Duflot wrote in a tweet mentioning the French diplomatic delegation.
Chère @AmbaFranceMaroc la machine administrative manque parfois de cœur ou de discernement mais il y a toujours des humain•es capables de résoudre des problèmes 🙏🏼 (et de laisser une maman et une grand-mère assister à un mariage…) https://t.co/a0wEXL6UQ5— Cécile Duflot (@CecileDuflot) August 2, 2022
The Moroccan media have also echoed this situation and denounced this "humiliation". The newspaper Bladi, for example, accuses France of "humiliating former Moroccan ministers" and, based on the opinions of Moroccan Internet users, raises the possibility of Morocco imposing visas on French nationals wishing to visit the Kingdom. However, certain French media have also reported on this problem. The famous daily Le Monde, for example, published an article including testimonies from those affected under the headline "Not worthy of France". In the report, the newspaper states that this measure is as if "a wall between two countries" had been erected.
Meanwhile, the Alawite parliament has called on Aziz Akhannouch's government to defend "Moroccan dignity". During an appearance before the House of Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita, Fatima Tamni, MP for the Democratic Left Federation, indicated that France is moving towards reducing the number of visas "without reasonable justification, surrounded by a logic of great ambiguity, especially with regard to the collection of fees and sums of money".
In recent years, Moroccans have experienced a decline in French visas. According to French Interior Ministry data collected by Al Arab, around 98,000 Moroccan applications were accepted in 2020, compared to 346,000 in 2019, 303,000 in 2018 and 295,000 in 2017.
France's stance, in addition to affecting Moroccan citizens wishing to travel to the Gallic country, may damage relations between Rabat and Paris. In fact, Moroccan analysts and journalists such as Mohamed Mamouni Al Allawi of Al Arab consider the current situation to be a "silent diplomatic crisis".
Hajar agrees, noting that "all the ties that have taken decades to forge will be broken little by little". In addition to visa restrictions, this 'silent' crisis is aggravated by France's misgivings about Morocco's diversification of its strategic partners, according to Al Allawi.
Moreover, these restrictions damage France's external image, especially among countries in the region, as Moroccan international analyst Hicham Motad explains to the Arabic daily. Motad also notes that these measures reflect 'the magnitude of the catastrophic failure of French policy in managing the migration dossier'.
In September 2021, Paris decided to reduce visas for the three Maghreb countries after they refused to accept the return of their nationals subject to deportation proceedings. The French government spokesman at the time, Gabriel Attal, described the measure as 'a drastic and unprecedented decision, but also a necessary one'. Paris opted to reduce visas for Moroccans and Algerians by 50% and for Tunisians by 30%.
Attal argued that these countries do not agree to accept their citizens, whom they "cannot keep" in France. In response, Morocco's Foreign Minister dismissed the measure as an "unjustified decision" that "does not reflect the reality of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against illegal immigration".