Moroccan Minister of Industry and Trade Ryad Mezzour refused on Saturday to speak in French when a journalist asked him to do so, amid tension between the two countries over France’s decision to tighten visa requirements on three north African countries including Morocco.
Social media users circulated a video clip of Mezzour during the 2nd African Conference on Health Risk Reduction, telling a journalist that he would only speak Arabic, English or Spanish, after the journalist had asked him to answer a question in French.
🇲🇦🇫🇷#FLASH| Une vidéo du ministre de l’Industrie Ryad Mezzour devient viral après avoir refusé de parler français 🇫🇷 et suggéré l'arabe 🇲🇦, l'anglais 🇬🇧 ou l'espagnol 🇪🇸 lors de la Conférence africaine sur la réduction des risques en santé à Marrakech. pic.twitter.com/PtAq9lV0fH
— Morocco Intelligence (@MoroccoIntel) September 29, 2023
The Moroccan minister’s position came a few days after an online campaign demanded the country’s authorities to impose entry visas on French citizens, in response to France’s tightening of visa requirements for citizens from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
Paris and Rabat have had a difficult relationship in recent years – notably over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which Morocco wants France to recognise as Moroccan. Morocco has not had an envoy in Paris since January.
Last month, Morocco refused Paris’ offer to assist with the search and rescue operations following the massive 7 magnitude earthquake that hit the country.