Is or current Moroccan flag the state flag of the country or flag of the ruling dynasty, by Alaouis? How did this flag come about and who designed it?
Over time, different dynasties ruled Morocco, sometimes at the same time. Each dynasty had power over its own territory and were embroiled in wars among themselves. From Idrisid, Almohad and Saadi dynasty are examples of dynasties that ruled Morocco and all had their own flag.
The flag of the Alaouite dynasty was completely red from 1666 to 1915. The Alaoui Sultan Youssef issued a decree on November 17, 1915 to adjust that flag. Although this decree indicates that the decision to change the flag is considered a decision by the Sultan, it is actually the resident general of France in Morocco – under the French protectorate (1912-1956) – General Hubert Lyautey who ordered the change by a legal decree.
Lyautey held meetings and tasked Kaddour Benghabrit (or Abdelkader Ben Ghabrit) to work on the decrees of the Sultan, and to introduce various new Makhzen traditions and protocols.
Kaddour Benghabrit was born in 1868 at Sidi Bel Abbes in Algeria and died in Paris in 1954. He was an Algerian official at quai d’Orsay. He held various positions in the cabinet of Sultan Abdelafid Alaoui (1876-1937). The Sultan Youssef Alaoui (1881-1927) appointed him president of the protocol of his royal palace. Benghabrit worked for a total of three kings, from 1907 to the mid-1950s. He remained true to the instructions of the French “protector”, namely to create and maintain the traditions of the Makhzen and the creation of a more rigorous and modern administration, more organized with a modernist character that preserves ancestral traditions.
Benghabrit ordered by Lyautey played an important role in the adoption of the Moroccan flag.
Originally completely red, a green pentagram was added to this historical emblem of the Alaouite Dynasty since the 17th century in power, to distinguish it from the colors used by the French navy. It is said that it was Benghabrit who made the choice of colour, he was inspired by the word Morocco and its origins Marrakech. So he had chosen the red color. The star is also said to have chosen the green colour that refers to the green palm trees of Marrakech. And the five points of the star, which some try to justify as the five pillars of Islam.
A French soldier made the music of the Moroccan national anthem
The music of the Moroccan national anthem was the idea of French General Lyautey and he called captain Leo Morgan, the head of the guard of honour’s military music ensemble during the French protectorate in Morocco, to his office and asked him to think about an anthem that will be used at national events. The next day Leo put his band performing and they started playing a piece of music that will become a national melody.
The music of the Moroccan national anthem was released during the reign of Youssef Alaoui. It was a melody without lyrics. It was merely a tribute to the royal sultan, a melody without words known as the Sharif anthem. To honor the composer of the anthem, Leo Morgan, was invited for a conversation with the Sultan.
Morgan was also received by King Mohammed V after the end of his function as head of the guard of honor and during this meeting the king praised Morgan who returned to France and continued to visit Morocco as a tourist until his death in 1984.
Morgan’s piece of music continued to be used without text, it was adopted by the palace as an anthem played at national events and royal visits.
Many attempts were made to replace Morgan’s piece of music with a Moroccan one, but Hassan II constantly refused. He sent Morgan congratulations before he decided to add a text to the piece of music in 1969.
In 1969, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture announced a competition for poets for the lyrics of the national anthem. King Hassan II decided to personally supervise the results of the competition and he chose the lyrics for the national anthem for an Arab poem written by Ali Squalli Houssaini (1932-2018). The immediate reason for adding the lyrics to the national anthem was Morocco’s qualification for the World Cup in Mexico in 1970.
The lyrics and the musical score were officially established in 2005 during the reign of King Mohammed VI with an article of law.
Translated by: Najat M.