Round table: “Anglo-saxon approaches: civic participation of minorities in Britain and the United States”

Thursday, 09 June 2022

The panelists were Mr Tarik Oumazzane, professor of history and international relations at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, Ms Hanane Abouhakim, Ph.D. in chemical and process engineering and research associate at Buckinghamshire University in the United Kingdom,Mr Hamza Taouzzale, mayor of Westminster in London and holder of a Master's degree in political science, and Mr Khalid Lyamlahy, an Engineer and PhD in Medieval and Modern Languages from Oxford University as well as a Professor at the University of Chicago, hosted the event and answered questions from Ms Souad Talsi, a member of the CCME in Britain and founder of the Al-Hassaniya Center based in London.

Ms Souad Talsi, a second-generation Moroccan in Britain, questioned the speakers on their civic engagement in their host country and on the respect of their rights as ethnic minorities in English-speaking countries.

" In Britain, 13% of the population is what is called "BME" (Black and Minority Ethnic), who are represented in Parliament by 10% of MPs, which is almost proportional and encouraging," she said in her introduction.

The work she undertakes "to connect members of the Moroccan community in England and her commitment to the cause of migration was praised by the participants who are also her fellow citizens in London. She has also been officially made a member of the prestigious Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her civic activism.

In his address, Mr. Tarik Oumazzane outlines the historical links between Morocco and Britain. "A common history and a conscientious relationship that has lasted between the two countries for more than 800 years" that should be better known and studied by young Moroccans in school textbooks and university programmes.

Ms Hanane Abouhakim's presentation described the daily experience of being a Muslim, African, Moroccan and hijab-wearing woman in a country such as England, where she works as an engineer, which is often perceived as a male domain.

As for her academic and professional experience in England, ms Hanane Abouhakim, who also worked at the pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca, says that over the course of her journey she has never realized that she was part of a minority or been attacked for her hijab, defining Britain as a society of fulfillment and accomplishment

Mr.Hamza Taouzzale, the country's youngest Muslim mayor, explains that there are many Moroccans in his district who have the skills and the profile to represent their fellow citizens, but they still need to be motivated to become involved.

"Westminster is made of diversity between many nationalities, which I also participate in with my Moroccan heritage while embodying all the values of Britain," says Hamza Taouzzale who explains that "Moroccans still work individually, unlike other minorities such as the Asian community.

Interacting with the audience, he vowed to be an example for the younger generations of Moroccans in his country and within the community that elected him or for minorities in general. "To celebrate my success is to allow others to realise that they have a chance," he concluded.

On his part, Mr. Khalid Lyamlahy, who has lived in France, England and the United States, remembers the warm welcome of "his English teachers and the difficult communication with French teachers, describing the relationship with immigrants in the two countries as two different worlds".

"People are very curious, my students for example are eager to know the Moroccan culture, the traditions, but to reach them and make them love this culture, you have to do something beyond just being a teacher, you have to feel like a representative of this culture and like to communicate with others".

In response to a question from the audience about the commitment of Moroccans in Anglo-Saxon countries to the national cause, Khalid Lyamlahy said that "we need to inform Moroccans abroad about their country so that they can formulate their plea, whether it is on a daily basis with other nationalities, in their family, with their friends or colleagues".

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