France: visa refused for Moroccan star El Grande Toto

CASABLANCA: New controversy surrounding the refusal of a Schengen visa application by France by Moroccan nationals. This time, it was the artist El Grande Toto who paid the price.

Consequence: the artist will not be able to perform his concert which was to be held this Thursday, August 11, as part of the Demifestival, organized in Sète in France. His European tour scheduled for October is also compromised.

An embarrassing situation therefore for the most listened to artist in 2021 on Spotify in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He did not hide his annoyance in a story on his Instagram account: “Having a visa today is like playing the lottery. It’s as if it were a game of chance. I’m really getting fed up with it.”

This is not Toto’s first bad experience with French consular services. Indeed, less than a month ago, when he was to do a mini-tour in France, the rapper could only obtain a ten-day visa. “I can’t take it anymore. I do not understand why after having submitted a complete and solid file, I am only entitled to ten days”, he was indignant then.

Visa restriction policy

Many Moroccans are now faced with enormous difficulties in obtaining a visa for France. Artists, business leaders, journalists, scientists, lecturers or even simple tourists. Moreover, more and more Moroccans seem to be turning away from France, to spend their holidays in Spain or Italy.

“As long as you do not take back your compatriots, we do not accept your compatriots”, had launched in September 2021 the French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin against three Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia).

“We do it because some of the Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian compatriots who are on French soil are no longer accepted by these countries either because they are people who are radical Islamists, or they are delinquents” or illegal immigrants . “We tell them that as long as you don’t take back your compatriots, we don’t accept your compatriots,” Darmanin said.

The French government thus decided to reduce by half the number of sesames granted to Algeria and Morocco, and by 30% to Tunisia – a decision deemed humiliating on Moroccan social networks at the time. Hundreds of testimonies began to flow, reporting on the situation. Families who have been going to France for years, who have lived there or whose child is studying there, can no longer go there.

Applicants are now subject to a real obstacle course and have no guarantee of obtaining the visa, even if they meet all the required conditions.

On the side of Moroccan diplomacy, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, had declared that “the decision (of France) is sovereign”, but “unjustified”. “Morocco will study it, but the reasons justifying it require precision and dialogue, because they do not reflect reality”, but no progress has been noted on this file.

Reciprocity Policy

The Moroccan press did not hesitate to call for the principle of visa reciprocity.

“Visas: reciprocity is essential”, “Visa reciprocity VS Moroccan hospitality”, “French visas. Morocco could apply the reciprocity rule if…” are some examples of article titles that call for equality and reciprocity in the issuance of visas for Morocco, for French citizens, who are exempt until here.

More recently, it was the Cercle Eugène Delacroix, an association of elected representatives of the Republic whose objective is to promote friendship between France and Morocco, which took a stand and called for “an end to the crisis of visa”.

“Morocco is a friendly country and a strategic partner for France, insisted Emmanuel Macron, just elected, during his first trip outside Europe to Rabat at the invitation of Mohammed VI in 2017”, writes Salah Bourdi, president of the Cercle, in a forum before asserting that “the French consular corps established in Morocco, which does a considerable amount of work, is embarrassed”. “Moroccans and Moroccans who sincerely love France are disillusioned,” he adds.

In this sense, he launches an appeal which wants to be the echo of a return to normal: “The elected representatives of the Eugène Delacroix Circle, the millions of dual nationals, the millions of lovers of this beautiful Franco-Moroccan friendship call on the governments French and Moroccan to reason. French visa policy must return to normal, France is a great country, loved, expected and hoped for in Morocco and around the world.

The Franco-Moroccan journalist Mustapha Tossa recently wrote in an op-ed published by Arab News in French: “both for undocumented migrants, S files and imams disseminating radical thoughts, the strategy of the Minister of the Interior is to ensure not to leave this land fallow so that the extreme right can settle there comfortably”. This is a political decision that puts into perspective the political crisis that the French government is going through.

According to him, “the challenge for this emblematic minister of the Macron era is to try to outdo the pawn on the far right without destabilizing left-wing circles, without which Emmanuel Macron’s second term would look like a long road to cross”.

Between political issues, migration policy and diplomatic tussle, the issue of visas continues to unleash passions. It now highlights the difficult relations between States which have always placed their relations under the sign of fraternity.

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