Friday, September 10, 2010

Will Ceuta and Melilla become Moroccan?

Continuing from yesterday's post examining Morocco as a source of migrants for Europe, recently on my own blog, A Bit More Detail, riffed from Geocurrents' posts on the contested enclaves on the Strait of Gibraltar, examining the positions of British Gibraltar on the Spanish shore and Spanish Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan. Now, at Morocco's Yabiladi, Ibrahim Kone's article "Demographics to the rescue of Moroccan Ceuta and Melilla" ("La démographie au secours de la marocanité de Ceuta et Melilla") argues that higher birth rates among Muslims in the Spanish enclaves will lead to their assimilation to Morocco.

[T]here are more and more Moroccans in Ceuta and Melilla. According to data from the Spanish Institute of Statistics (INE), reported by Libertad Digital, in 2008 34% of infants had mothers Melilla Moroccan cons "only 17% of Ceuta." The table of the popular names of children born in Melilla in the 60s [included at the original article], and one of the last decade is revealing.

Melilla enclave would be the first endangered by the demographic peril. Its population is already half Muslim and Moroccan origin. The fertility of Muslims is higher than that of Spanish (not Muslim) and even higher than that of the Moroccans of "Morocco".

[. . .]

The continuous growth of the number of Moroccans will result in a societal and political balance that will go in favor of the majority. There will be more demands from Muslims, most politicians of the Muslim faith, and from there, there will be a government with a Muslim majority. The Spaniards are ready to accept a being a dominant minority, but never will they be a dominated minority. What will happen in the next few years? Will they agree to stay in Melilla as a minority? This is doubtful as misgivings about Islam are important. The return of Ceuta and Melilla on Morocco's lap could happen in the next few decades as predicted by King Hassan II.

As even the author admits, the fact that one's Muslim in one of the two Spanish enclaves does not translate into automatic support for accession to Mexico. The fact remains that living in these two Spanish cities, southern outposts of the European Union, users of the Euro, and territories of a stable and prosperous democracy, is good; if Ceuta and Melilla became Moroccan, then notwithstanding Morocco's recent economic development they would suffer catastrophe. More, as I noted in my blog post, most of the Moroccans in the enclaves are Berbers who appreciated living in a state that, unlike the Arabizing monarchy of Morocco, offers space for their cultural expression. The profoundly bad assumption that demographic trends among the enclaves' different communities will continue as in the past also needs to be looked at quite critically.

Demographics, it's quite worth noting yet again, is not destiny, or at certainly not the simplistic demographics used by the author.


Dubaiwalla said...

Accession to Morocco, I think you meant.

Randy said...

THe phenomenon described seemed to be cultural in origins.

HM said...

Ceuta was occupied by Portugal and then Spain in 1415. A date Moroccans remember well. Either by Demographic or Economic pressures (the two cities survive only by a contraband economy which Morocco allows), the two cities and Chafarin Islands will return back to Morocco.