Friday, 10 April 2020 06:19

Fouad Ahidar: "Africa must not be the doormat of Europe"

Monday, 08 December 2014

Interview with Fouad Ahidar, Senior Vice President of the Brussels Parliament.

In the royal message to participants of the 2014 world forum on human rights, Africa and its participation in enriching the global system of human rights were mentioned. Do you think that the continent can one day do without the authority of the North?

 Fouad Ahidar: Africa can do without a certain guardianship but cannot manage to present a total autonomy in terms of human rights. To speak only of Europe, the continent can learn things but also needs to listen and know that we have in Africa our specificities, our own culture and our own form of democracy. It is illogical to want to impose on some nations now coming out of years of dictatorship the same codes and principles of countries that have known democracy for millennia. So can we do without a lot of experience in human rights? No. The advice would be welcome. However, it is important for Africa to not become the doormat of Europe. We must get out of this culture of "the West has spoken, the Bible has spoken."

On immigration, Morocco went from being a single transit country to a host country. What could we learn from the Belgian experience in this direction?

The Belgian model may not be the best but there are lessons to be learned. This country has hosted a large wave of immigration from 1964 to today. Initially we were waiting with open arms, now it's the opposite. We adopt a selective immigration, that is to say, we take what we want and we reject what we do not need. What you should know though, is that immigration has always existed and will always exist. It is human instinct to seek a better future elsewhere. With the royal instructions, Morocco has made considerable efforts in the regularization of migrants and asylum seekers. We now do a great job on consciousness and avoid falling into the traps of social exclusion. It takes away the generalities that suggest that a migrant commits an offense and everybody is labeled thief and rapist.. Are we going to condemn Africa for that? We must not tackle nationalities and communities, but rather problems. As a politician, myself, when I have a problem with the Belgian far right movement, I know that I’m against their ideology; I’m not fighting against a Belgian or against a community.

Morocco has made major announcements regarding the fight against torture and violence against women. What’s your take on this?

HM King Mohammed VI took to heart the great projects that advance Morocco. To speak only of women, today it is inconceivable that these women are beaten by their husbands and this issue is under covered because the husbands are overprotected or because women are unaware of their rights. This example is for cases of torture as well. Each right shall be protected. I'm not saying that you have to give an excess of rights but equal rights to all citizens. I may be optimistic but I think of my girls. I do not want them to wake up tomorrow at 2am, suffering from violence without knowing where to go or who to turn to. This project supported by His Majesty the King is a priority. Violence rots life. This is not only in Morocco. In Belgium, where I live, 12 to 14% of women are beaten. This figure may reach 20% if we count those who have never dared to complain. Morocco is endowed today of instances for parity against violence, torture and corruption. All of this, is important, we must now reach the results.

How much the label of Morocco has been on your priorities and responsibilities as a Senior Vice President of the Brussels Parliament?

I was elected by 17 Dutch groups in Belgium. I'm more responsible in my party. Many things have changed and I can say that I am no longer myself. When I was in opposition, I would get up in the morning and think, "What am I biting today?" Today, this is not possible. However, I can tell you that all Dutch parliamentary groups knew they would appoint a president who was in Mecca at the time of decision making. As they say, it's not the color of the cat that matters as long as it catches mice. I have always fought for individual freedom. Everyone should have himself and do what he wants in a legal framework and respect of each other. I also always defended the Moroccan Sahara and integrity of the Kingdom. I have girls in my department who wear the veil. But people need to understand that this is why Brussels is multicultural. No matter what she has on her head, what matters to me is what she has in mind. You should not be born in Morocco to be Moroccan. I'm as Belgian as Moroccan and I have responsibilities towards my two countries.

In light of what happened after the Arab Spring, are you a reformist or a revolutionary in today’s world?

Reforms are implemented to be applied. If it is to pass resolutions in Parliament and remain in the drawers it is useless. We should also know of which revolution we speak. If these are revolutions which sacrificed hundreds of thousands of people, it does not interest me. I am for an intellectual revolution in which everyone will take part in a democratic debate and have a place and a say through the people they elect.

This interview was published in French in Aujourd’hui Le Maroc

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