Hate Berber Arabs

History of Morocco

From Berbers and Arabs

Every country is shaped by the people who live in it. Peasants, traders, philosophers and rulers all contribute in their own way to shape a culture. On the soil of today's Morocco, numerous cultures have mixed and influenced each other over the centuries.

The original population of Morocco are the Berbers. Traditionally they lived as settled farmers or migrating nomads. Its clay-built villages and protective castles in the High Atlas, a mountain range in the south of the country, have sparked the imagination of many a visitor.

The setting of the village of Ksar Aït Ben Haddou is exactly what Europeans imagine when they think of the Orient in biblical times. No wonder Hollywood discovered this landscape too. Scenes for the films "Alexander", "Gladiator" and "Kingdom of Heaven" were filmed here.

Entry of Islam

The Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans had already established colonies and trading bases on the coasts of Morocco. As part of the spread of Islam in the eighth century, Arab troops conquered the region. From now on they were the most important force for the cultural development of the country. Its palaces and mosques are among the most imposing buildings in Morocco today.

Even if the Berbers were largely able to maintain their cultural identity in the interior of the country, the Arabs brought them Islam, to which more than 97 percent of Moroccans profess today.

Today, about a third of the Moroccan population is made up of Berbers. Divided into about 300 tribal groups, they mainly settle in the mountainous regions of the High and Middle Atlas and the Reef Mountains. There is also another third of Arab Berbers. These live in the cities of the north. Over the centuries they have mixed with the immigrant Arab population and have largely adopted their culture and language.

There is also a small percentage of Arabs and the Haratins. They are descendants of slaves or mercenaries who came to Morocco from other African countries since the 11th century.

Morocco as the plaything of the colonial powers

As early as the 15th century, the Spaniards and Portuguese had started setting up smaller branches on the Moroccan coast. But it was only with the rise of imperialism in the 19th century that various European powers began to look greedily at the North African country.

France, Spain, Great Britain and the German Reich tried to secure their interests in Africa. From 1899 to 1914, the German Empire even had its own post offices in various cities in the country, where German postage stamps were issued. But even with such advances, the German Reich could not prevent France from further expanding its supremacy in Morocco.

A notable footnote of the story in this context is the so-called "panther leap to Agadir". Provoked by the French occupation of Fez and Rabat, the German Reich sent its gunboat "Panther" to the coast of Agadir. The French were to be forced to make concessions under the threat of military force. A procedure that led the world to the brink of World War I as early as 1911 and isolated the German Reich in terms of foreign policy.

In the end, the Germans could only watch as France brought central Morocco under its rule and Spain annexed the Mediterranean coast. In both areas, both Arabs and Berbers rose to fight against European rule. These uprisings were bloodily suppressed. It was not until 1956 that the country regained its independence.

From foreign rule to kingdom

After hard-won independence, Sultan Mohammed V assumed the title of king in 1956. He had already demanded the independence of his country in 1947 and had to leave the country for several years. In his speeches he spoke of the democratization of Morocco, but the country was not yet ready for these new ideas.

When Mohammed V died in 1961, his son Hassan took over the business of government. He swung himself up to the actual ruler of the state, had far-reaching powers guaranteed by parliament and took a hard hand against oppositional forces. An abundance of power that European monarchs no longer knew in the 20th century.

When Hassan died in 1999, the response was divided. Some saw in him a power-obsessed despot and warmonger. Others mourned the loss of a man who had transformed the agrarian state of Morocco, which was marked by poverty in many places, into a modern country with a growing industrial and service sector.

In 1999 he was followed by his son Mohammed VI. to the throne and carried out far-reaching economic and democratic reforms.

Morocco in the Arab Spring

But in 2011, during the Arab Spring, these reforms were no longer enough for the Moroccans. A wave of protests spread from Tunisia through the entire Arab world: demonstrators called for more democracy and human rights, an end to widespread corruption, and a more decisive fight against poverty.

In Tunisia and Egypt, the protests swept away the authoritarian presidents. Morocco's King Mohammed VI however, the demonstrators succeeded in appeasing them. Because traditionally, many Moroccans see their king as a non-partisan authority that holds the ethnically, geographically and socially complex country together.

With a constitutional reform, Mohammed VI strengthened. 2011 the separation of powers and restricted his own power, but remained the strong man in the state. However, this did not help him to master the poverty in the country, above all the high youth unemployment.

Many young people can no longer imagine a future in their home country and see an escape to Europe as a possible way out. Corruption in the state and in the economy also remains a problem.

That is why new protests have flared up again and again since 2016. Unlike during the Arab Spring, the Moroccan police are now usually tough. Social peace in the country remains fragile.