Moroccan Americans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Moroccan Americans
Total population
(2019 American Community Survey)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Florida (Jacksonville, Miami), Texas, Los Angeles, California
Sunni Islam, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Arab Americans

Moroccan Americans are Americans of Moroccan ancestry. This includes people who have dual Moroccan and United States citizenship.

History of immigration[edit]

Moroccan presence in the United States was rare until the mid-twentieth century. The first North African who came to the current United States was probably Estebanico Al Azemmouri (also called Estevanico), a Muslim Moroccan of Gnawa descent[citation needed] , who participated in Pánfilo de Narváez's ill-fated expedition to colonize Florida and the Gulf Coast in 1527. Only Azemmouri and three of his comrades survived during the eleven year, 5,000 mile journey from Florida to Texas.[2] In 1534, Azemmouri crossed the southern United States to Arizona, accompanying Marcos de Niza as a guide in his search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola ahead of Coronado.[3] Azemmouri was the first explorer to enter a Native American village.[2]

The first American Jew to serve in the Senate was David Levy Yulee, who was of Moroccan descent and served as Florida's first Senator from 1845 to 1851 and again 1855–1861.

It is also possible that some South American descendants of Moroccan Jews emigrated to the U.S. in the early twentieth century, after the decline of the rubber industry in South America in 1910, to which their families had been dedicated for generations. After World War II, some groups of Jews from Morocco emigrated to the United States, fleeing poverty in North Africa. Most of them settled in previously established Sephardic Jewish communities from Spain, Turkey, or the Balkans.[4] After Moroccan independence in 1956, many of their best young researchers left to study at American universities, joining scientific faculties.[5] Muslim Moroccans, however, did not arrive to the United States in significant numbers until the late 1970s.

During the 1980s and 1990s, many Moroccans entered the United States to attend colleges, universities, graduate schools, and medical schools.[4] Some Moroccans emigrated to United States seeking work, opening small retail stores and restaurants.[5]

David Levy Yulee, US Senator of Moroccan-Jewish descent

The 1990 U.S. census counted only 21,529 foreign-born Moroccans residing in the United States; 15,004 respondents to the census listed Moroccan as their first ancestry, while 4,074 listed it as their second ancestry.[citation needed] In 1990 there were about 15,000 Moroccan Americans, with most of them being in New York City.[6]

In the late 1990s, Morocco experienced problems typical of developing nations: high government spending and inflation, a huge external debt, limited access to health care, poor housing and living conditions, and high unemployment. Morocco experienced an unemployment rate of 16 to 20 percent. Moroccan citizens began migrating during this period to relieve the high unemployment rate. Most migrants attempted to enter France, Italy, and Spain. But by the end of the 1990s, the European Union began limiting visas for North Africans and barring illegal migrants from entering Europe. Moroccans with higher levels of job skills were able to consider emigration to the United States.[citation needed] To escape their country's high unemployment rate, Moroccans who immigrated to the United States typically had more education and better job skills.


As of the 2000 U.S. Census 38,923 Americans stated they were of Moroccan descent. About half of Moroccan immigrants arrived during or after 2000, a higher proportion than is found among U.S. immigrants overall, and the majority are U.S. citizens.[7] As of 2009, 27,000 Moroccans (about 70% of the entire Moroccan American community) had immigrated between 1992 and 2002, with most of the Moroccan Americans living in large urban areas.[6] By 2015, there were approximately 84,000 Moroccan immigrants and their children (first and second generations) living in the United States.These numbers, however, are very approximate: surveys and censuses regularly leave out representatives of ethnic and/religious minorities who, for various reasons, prefer not to be identified with the country of their origin.[8]

By state, most Moroccan immigrants reside in New York, Florida, and Massachusetts. Each of these states have between 5,000 and 10,000 Moroccan immigrant residents. The New York City metro area has the largest population of Moroccan immigrants, with approximately 11,000. Other metro areas with large Moroccan immigrant populations are Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, and Tampa.[7]


The vast majority of Moroccan Americans practice Islam. Most Moroccans are Sunni Muslims of the Maliki madh'hab. Morocco has historically allowed women a degree of freedom relatively high in the Islamic world.[9]

Moroccans in New York City established the Islamic Mission of America for the Propagation of Islam and Defense of the Faith and the Faithful, the second mosque in New York.[6]

A large minority of Moroccans identify with Judaism, specifically Sephardic Judaism.[4]

Family Dynamics[edit]

Family dynamics originates from a patriarchal culture, with the husband accorded power and the wife relegated to a subordinate status. Families tend to be large because of religious attitudes towards birth control. Among Moroccan American families, many women work outside the home and balance their career with family obligations. Though women tend to enter traditionally "feminine" professions, such as teaching, increasing numbers are training in more competitive fields, such as computer science or business.[4]

Media of Moroccan Americans[edit]

Tingis is a Moroccan American magazine which highlights cultural concerns, ideas, and issues of Moroccan Americans. It works against prejudice and cultural divisions, building and expanding bridges between the U.S. and Morocco.[10]


There are some important organizations created mainly by Moroccans (and Algerians) Americans in Chicago, whose function is to help newly arrived immigrants to the United States. These arose in the 1990s. Of these organizations must be emphasized the Assembly of the Maghreb. This assembly has tried to help new immigrants from North Africa to adapt to American life and maintain, in turn, the principles of Sunni Islam. Because most North African immigrants in Chicago have not been associated closely with the Muslim Middle East, the North Africans come together as a common community. Often, in relation to the area of the mosque, the organization has taught job skills, English language, the importance of Sirat al-Mustaqim and moderation, among other things. Have been trained women to balance paid work with traditional household chores.[11] Religious activities, such as collective prayer and the feasts of Ramadan, have been important in unifying Moroccans and other North African Muslim groups in Chicago.[5]

Other Moroccan American associations are: the Moroccan American Community Organization (that establishes respect and knowledge of Moroccan culture),[12] The Moroccan American House Association,[13] Association of Moroccan Professionals in America (AMPA),[14] Moroccan American Association of Northern California (MAANC, a non-profit organization that helps families of Moroccan origin living in Southern California in the areas economical, psychological and cultural adjustment, improving the quality of services to Moroccan immigrants, fast integration, and establish educational and cultural programs to try to keep the Moroccan culture in the community),[15] Washington Moroccan Association (WAMA, localized in Seattle - Tacoma Metropolitan are establishing ties between Morocco and the United States, increased understanding of Moroccan culture and history of the community, charitable, educational and civic organizations on behalf of their members and build relationships with other organizations with similar functions, in the Arab community of Washington state)[16] and Moroccan Society of Houston (Moroccan USA association NGO- its main goal is coordina social, cultural, and sport activities to maintain and strengthen the community's cultural heritage, and to "enhance mutual understanding" with other communities. In addition, they have a scholarship fund to help students with their college education expenses).[17]

Notable people[edit]

Moncef Slaoui, American researcher and former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines department.
Alain J. P. Belda, Moroccan-born American businessman
David Levy Yulee, The first American Jew to serve in the Senate was David Levy Yulee, who was Florida's first Senator, serving 1845–1851 and again 1855–1861.
French Montana American rapper
  • Moncef Slaoui, American-Moroccan researcher and former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines department.
  • Noah Schnapp, Canadian-American actor of Moroccan Jewish descent.
  • Kevin Gates, American rapper, singer, and entrepreneur of Moroccan descent.
  • Madison Beer, is an American singer and songwriter, her mother is of Moroccan Jewish descent.
  • Alain J. P. Belda, American businessman that has been a Managing Director of Warburg Pincus since 2009. Previously he was the Chairman of the Board of Alcoa from January 2001; he was Chief Executive Officer from January 2001 until May 2008
  • Bibi Bourelly - singer and songwriter (Half Moroccan through maternal side)
  • Paul Marciano, American fashion designer, businessman, investor, and philanthropist, he is the co-founder of Guess Inc
  • Sanaa Hamri, Moroccan-American film, television, and music video director
  • Touriya Haoud, Dutch/American model
  • Kenza Tazi, Moroccan alpine skier
  • Baruj Benacerraf was an American immunologist, of Moroccan Jews descent who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the "discovery of the major histocompatibility complex genes.
  • Marc Lasry, American of Moroccan descent and hedge fund manager of Avenue Capital Group
  • Sonia Gardner, American of Moroccan descent and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group
  • Driss R. Temsamani, Moroccan American author, community organizer, and Head of Marketing & Strategic Planning for Citigroup Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Modar Alaoui, Moroccan-American serial entrepreneur He is mostly known for his work in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision-based face analytics and emotion recognition technologies. Alaoui is the founder and CEO of Eyeris Technologies, Inc.
  • Shiri Appleby, American actress and director of Moroccan Jewish descent on her mother's side.
  • Aicha Elbasri is a writer and former United Nations official. She is the author of L’Imaginaire carcéral de Jean Genet, a book on Jean Genet, a prominent, controversial French writer and later political activist. She was previously the Spokesperson for the African Union – United Nations hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID.
  • Joseph Chetrit, American of Moroccan descent and real estate investor and developer
  • Moses Bensusan, Canadian-American real estate developer, he is the CEO of Liberty Grande, LLC a real estate development company and CEO/President of Logictech Construction Group
  • RedOne, American Moroccan music producer
  • Hassan Hakmoun, American Moroccan Gnawa master musician
  • David Levy Yulee, American politician of Moroccan Sephardi descent
  • French Montana, Moroccan-American rapper born in Morocco
  • Richard Wolffe is a British-American journalist, MSNBC commentator, and author
  • Frank Mir, MMA fighter, former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Born to a Cuban-born father of Moroccan heritage.
  • Layla El, English American dancer, model, and WWE professional wrestler, of Moroccan descent.
  • Tarek El Moussa, American real estate investor and television personality of Moroccan descent.
  • Emmanuelle Chriqui, Canadian American actress of Moroccan Jewish descent.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. "American Community Survey 2019 - 1-Year Estimates". Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b Se confirma la presencia de musulmanes hispanos en la América precolombina (in Spanish: It confirms the presence of Hispanic Muslims in pre-Columbian America)
  3. ^ Martínez Laínez, Fernando; Canales, Carlos (2009). Banderas Lejanas: la Exploración, Conquista y Defensa por España del Territorio de los Actuales Estados Unidos (In Spanish: Far Flags: Exploration, conquest and Defence by Spain of the Territory of the United States Current). EDAF. ISBN 978-84-414-2119-6
  4. ^ a b c d Evertculture:Morocco American. Posted by Elizabeth Shostak
  5. ^ a b c Encyclopedia of Chicago: Moroccans. Wrote by Stephen R. Porter.
  6. ^ a b c Powell, John. Encyclopedia of North American Immigration (Facts on File library of American history). Infobase Publishing. January 1, 2009. ISBN 143811012X, 9781438110127. p. 195.
  7. ^ a b › sites › files › publications › RAD-Morocco
  8. ^ S. Gintsburg (2016). Moroccan Immigrants in the United States of America: History, Languages and Identities. In Identidad y conciencia lingüistica: VI Congreso de Árabe Marroquí, pp. 195 - 214
  9. ^ "Walking and Trekking Holidays, Adventure Travel with EWP". EWP Mountain Trekking and Safaris. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  10. ^ Tingis Magazine Archived 2012-01-11 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Stephen R. Porter (December 26, 2005). "Algerians". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  12. ^ "MACO". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  13. ^ "maha-site". maha-site. Archived from the original on 2 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  14. ^ "Association of Moroccan Professionals in America @ AMPA". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Moroccan American Association of Northern California (MAANC)". Eventbrite. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  16. ^ Washington Moroccan Association Archived 2013-11-14 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Moroccan Society of Houston". Retrieved 13 August 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bibas, David. Immigrants and the Formation of Community: A Case Study of Moroccan Jewish Immigration to America (AMS Press, 1998).
  • Bookin-Weiner, Jerome B. and Mohamed El Mansour, eds. The Atlantic Connection: 200 Years of Moroccan-American Relations, 1786–1986 (Rabat: Edino, 1990)
  • Dike, M. Ruth. "Exploring evolving Moroccan identities in the diaspora." Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture 3.1 (2014). online[dead link]
  • Gintsburg, Sarali. "Moroccan Immigrants in the United States of America: History, Languages and Identities." In Identidad y conciencia lingüistica: VI Congreso de Árabe Marroquí (2016): 195-214
  • Kalpakian, Jack. "Managing Morocco's image in United States domestic politics." Journal of North African Studies 11.1 (2006): 55–69.
  • Shostak, Elizabeth. "Moroccan Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2014), pp. 245–258. online