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Freedom of religion and belief in Morocco

©Hanan Isachar

The King of Morocco, Muhammad VI, ordered his ambassador in France to donate money for the reconstruction of Notre Dame in April 2019: “At the very high instruction of King Muhammad VI, the Kingdom of Morocco will contribute financially to the reconstruction of Notre Dame in Paris”. The Twitter post of the Moroccan embassy in France has announced. Officially no specific amount was mentioned, but on social media an amount of 200 million dollars has been circulating.

Ahmed Younes

The Riffian journalist Ahmed Younes commented on Morocco’s donation on Facebook: ‘The Notre-Dame Cathedral contains works of art that France has stolen from North Africa’. The journalist does not reveal any details of the French art theft.

North Africa has a Christian history, as the philosopher and church father Augustine of Hippo was born in present-day Algeria.

Moroccans who converted to Christianity were not allowed to enter the churches in Morocco. These churches, which usually date from colonial times, are only meant for non-Moroccans.

The American Department of State estimates the number of Moroccan Christians at more than 40,000. The American think tank and opinion research agency, Pew Research Center, estimates the number at 20,000.

Brother Ali

Choosing between work and religion

A young Moroccan named Brother Ali* grew up in a Moroccan Muslim family. He went to work for the Moroccan gendarmerie and became a member of a unit in charge of securing the king and his family. He converted to the Christian faith, when his employer found out he was transferred to a barracks in Rabat with no function. Then a wave of intimidation began, forcing him to resign from the gendarmerie.

Every Moroccan is a Muslim

According to Moroccan law, all Moroccans but a small Jewish minority are Muslims. Any attempt to convert a Muslim is illegal. Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code says that “anyone who uses incitement to separate a Muslim from his religion or to convert him to another religion may be punished with 3 to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams.”

Jamaa Ait Bakrim (1964), a Moroccan convert, received a bachelor’s degree in political science. In the last century he fled to Europe and applied for asylum in the Netherlands, but that was rejected. In 1993 he returned to Morocco. He did not keep his new religion secret and this caused him problems with the authorities, he was sentenced to seven months in prison. He was then placed in a psychiatric hospital.
In the islamic countries everyone who distances himself from the islam is portrayed as a psychiatric patient.

Jamaa Ait Bakrim

5 years imprisonment

Jamaa Ait Bakrim was convicted for the second time and was imprisoned for a year. After serving his prison sentence, he set fire to two wooden electricity poles in 2005, because they had been out of use for a long time and blocked the entrance to his business. He had often asked the municipality to remove the poles, but without success. So Ait Bakrim cleaned them up himself, but that was a criminal offence. Add to that the fact that Ait Bakrim spoke honestly about his faith. Jamaa Ait Bakrim was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment by the court.

Pope’s visit without results

Known Moroccan convert is Brother Rachid, the author of the book The Ideology Behind Islamic Terrorism 2018, he is also a TV program maker. In a video message on his Youtube channel, he comments on the Pope’s visit to Morocco on 30 and 31 March 2019: “We Moroccan Christians are very disappointed in the King of Morocco who, in his speech in the presence of the Pope, said that he is the leader of the faithful, including Jews and foreign Christians who are in Morocco”. [not of the Moroccan convert].

Brother Rachid

Brother Rachid wonders why Moroccan Christians were not allowed into Moroccan churches, why they have to marry according to Islamic rituals, why they are obliged to follow Islamic education, why they have to bury their dead in an Islamic way.

King Mohammed VI gave a speech during the pope’s visit in four languages (not in Tamazight, the mother tongue of Moroccans, which was only recognized as an official language in 2011), Rachid called on the king to speak in another language: the language of human rights.

Death penalty chases non-Muslims

The High Council of Moroccan Ulema’s (Islamic legal scholars) issued a fatwa in 2012 that makes it possible to execute people who have formally distanced themselves from Islam. Muslims from movements other than those of the state can also be considered apostates: for example the Ibadites, the Ahmadi-Muslims and the Shiites.

Monarchy is based on Islam

The Moroccan monarchy derives its legitimacy from the state Islam established by France during the official occupation of Morocco between 1912 and 1956. The position of the king is enshrined in the constitution, so it is not allowed to criticise the king and his family.

The king was presented in Morocco as the deputy to God on earth. With the title of leader of the faithful, he forced the entire people into submission. Even if he uses violence against his subjects, they are not allowed to distance themselves from him, for this there are texts in the Koran that justify all this

*Interview in which Brother Ali had made his revelations (Arabic)


Translation: Najat M.

Kettani Ben Hammou, from collaborator to CIA informant

Kettani Ben Hammou and Crown Prince Hassan. Casablanca, November 1956. Photo: Mohamed Moradji

Contrary to the refusal of many ordinary Moroccan and Riffian families to cooperate with the colonial occupier, a small Moroccan elite thought otherwise. For example, during the French and Spanish protectorates (1912 – 1956), ordinary families often refused to send their children to the colonial schools and prevented them from serving in the colonial army, although they were obliged to do so according to the Moroccan sultan Abd el Aziz ibn Hassan (1878 – 1943) and the European occupiers. They needed the North African people to fight their colonial wars.

A small and rich Moroccan elite saw the colonial system and schools as the way to a successful career for their children. They sent their children to European schools and universities or military academies. In this way, they and their children had access to political and military key positions, even after the departure of the occupying forces from Morocco. Kettani Ben Hammou was one of them.

Kettani Ben Hammou was born in Berrechid, near Casablanca, in 1910. He trained at the French military school Dar-El-Beida in Meknés. He joined the French army in 1923. He belonged to the Tabors, a unit composed entirely of Moroccans. With this unit, which he later took charge of, he took part in several military expeditions in Tunisia, Italy, France and Germany. Until he was wounded twice in 1944, and was decorated.

General Kettani Ben Hammou. Paris September 19, 1955, Copyright: Topfoto

General Kettani Ben Hammou was called up to work for the French Resident General in Morocco after the Second World War. He then continued his training at the l’École Supérieure de Guerre, a French academy for senior officers.

This Colonel Kettani ben Hammou was promoted to general in August 1954 in the French newspaper Le Monde. Thus Ben Hammou became the first Moroccan with the rank of general in the French army. This timing was important, because two years later France would ‘leave’ Morocco. From that moment on, Ben Hammou’s general stars were able to shine in ‘independent’ Morocco.

General Kettani Ben Hammou was part of the staff of the French occupying army in Germany. However, he remained loyal to the Sultan of Morocco, Mohamed Ben Youssef.

In November 1955, on his return from exile, King Mohammed V called him to Rabat to assist Crown Prince Hassan in the formation of the royal forces FAR.

In 1956, Ben Hammou was commander of the armed forces, and in this capacity Kettani represented the sultan at the surrender of the governor of Tafilalt Aâddi Oubihi who had rebelled against the Hizb Listiqlal (Party of Independence) in power in 1957.

Two years later, in 1959, a major popular uprising in the Rif, which began in 1958, was brutally and violently suppressed by the Royal Army of Crown Prince Hassan. It was up to a.o. General Kettani to oversee the further subjugation of the Riffians.

General Ben Hammou went to the Congo on behalf of the UN in the 1960s as an advisor to the Congolese Chief of Staff of Mobutu Sese Seko. John Batist Mlima Makoubi, member of the Union of Congolese Youth, accused Ben Hammou of helping Mobutu to power through the CIA. Furthermore, he allegedly enabled Congolese dictator to seize power by having the independent leader Patrice Lumumba assassinated and thus eliminated.

General Kettani in Congo, 1960s Photo: Internet

This accusation does not come across as strange given Ben Hammou’s statements in the newspaper Le Monde. During the war of liberation in Congo he made the following statement: ‘What this country (Congo red.) needs is a Lyautey’. General Lyautey was the head of the French army that conquered Morocco.

General Kettani Ben Hammou was also chief of the Military House of King Hassan II. He died of a cardiac arrest in 1965. The newspaper Le Monde reports in its issue of 14 April 1965 that Kettani suffered a heart attack during a ceremony of the religious feast Aïd El Kébri. He congratulates the king on behalf of the army and collapses. Despite the treatment he received immediately by the king’s doctors, the general died a few minutes later without regaining consciousness.

Sourece https://amazighinformatiecentrum.medium.com/van-marokkaanse-collaborateur-bij-de-fransen-naar-cia-agent-58cc58884f35

Translation: Najat M.

What is the King doing about the social unrest in Morocco?

Women’s demonstration Imzouren 2017, photo Mohamed El Asrihi

In recent years there have been protests in Morocco in various sectors and regions. People claim their share of the country’s wealth, such as fishing, phosphate and other raw materials that the country is rich in.

Africa’s largest silver mine
In Imidar the province of Tinghir there is the largest silver mine in Africa (seventh largest silver producer in the world). The local population doesn’t benefit from it, even worse, the mining company makes the lives of these people more difficult, it pollutes their drinking water and because the company consumes a lot of water, the people from the region have a water shortage. SMI (Société Métallurgique d’Imiter) is part of the Royal Holding Company and has been operating the Imider mine since 1978. This company did not hire people from the region as promised. In the last century, the people of the region have carried out various actions against the negative consequences of this mining operation. Since 2011 the people of Imider have founded a movement: On The Road ’96 -Imider, the purpose of this movement is to stand up for civil rights in Imider. The situation in the region has not changed for the time being.

Water shortage
Poor management and water scarcity are a very serious problem in Morocco, one of the causes of migration. In the southern Zagora region (Tazagurt) of 30,000 inhabitants, 700 kilometres from Rabat, people protested against water shortages in 2017, their protests were met with brutal violence and they were persecuted for participating in unauthorised demonstrations. The King’s response to the problems in Morocco is to build dams, but this has not yielded any results for the average Moroccan, nor does it provide a structural solution to these problems in the long term.

In the east of the country, in the Jerada area near the Algerian border, people also took to the streets after coal mines were closed in this area and people could no longer find work. These protests were also violently suppressed. There is a video in circulation of a boy, Abdelmoula Zaiker, who was deliberately chased by a police car, then hit and seriously injured, and who is now being treated in a hospital in Turkey. The driver of the police car was not even prosecuted.

Death of the fish merchant
In the Rif there were big protests after the death of the fish merchant Muhsin Fikri. These demonstrations were led mainly by young people; they demanded an honest investigation of the death of Muhsin Fikri under the motto: freedom, equality and social justice, they wanted to demonstrate peacefully in the whole Rif area. After six months, the government reacted to these protests by accusing them of being led, financed as separatist from abroad. Hereafter a great wave of arrests in the Rif, which has been a military area since 1958, began. So far, people have been arrested for waving the Rif flag, taking a photo of Abdelkrim Al Khattabi and criticizing the government.

During the large-scale demonstration in Al Hoceima on July 20, 2017, there was even one death, Imad El Attabi was probably killed by a bullet of the security forces during the peaceful demonstration: According to the Moroccan prosecution, an investigation was conducted into the death of this young Riffian, and neither his family nor the Riffians saw the results of the investigation.

The funeral of the activist Imad El Attabi and the death of others.
Many people attended the funeral of Imad El Attabi on August 9 in Al Hoceima, where they held a demonstration using tear gas from the Moroccan police. The Riffian Abdelhafid El Haddad had breathing difficulties and died on 18 August 2017. He left behind a wife and three children. According to several Riffian civilians, the Moroccan police used French tear gas, showing an expired use date.

Najim Abdouni was the chairman of a national “anti-corruption committee” and was familiar with major projects in Al Hoceima for which large sums of money were provided on paper but not or not fully implemented. He was also active in the Rif popular movement. On August 10, 2017, he was found outside his front door, seriously injured, and died the same day in hospital. The Moroccan judiciary had promised an investigation, but had not yet announced any results.

Imad El Attabi

The King takes action
In a speech in 2017, King Mohamed VI praised the violent actions of his police and portrayed them as victims of the Riffian demonstrators. His Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit confirmed in Parliament that the Moroccan police had smashed the doors of civilians in the Rif. There are several videos on social media that clearly show that the Moroccan police terrorized the Riffians in the middle of the night and raided their homes without a search warrant: Private property was destroyed and the doors of defenseless Riffian houses were broken open.

Leaving for Europe
Thousands of demonstrators were filmed by the Moroccan police and then arrested and intimidated; even women and minors have not escaped these human rights violations. There are also stories of Morocco deliberately leaving its international borders unguarded so that young people can flee. The asylum seekers and reception centres in Europe are full of Riffian young people, especially in the Spanish enclave of Melilla. According to the latest news from the Rif, entire families fled the country. A number of Riffians were granted asylum, for example the activist Achraf El Idrissi in Belgium, the lawyer Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui in France, the activist Basset Lamrini in Spain. This year, Nawal Benaissa and her child have applied for asylum in the Netherlands. It is not known whether their application was granted.

Mitigations of the King
As a measure against the social protests, Mohamed VI reintroduced compulsory military service in Morocco this year after it was abolished in 2007. As a second clear measure, King Mohammed says in his speech of 20 August that Morocco will work on the development of rural areas and the agricultural sector and that some 50 billion dirhams are reserved for the period 2016 — 2022. The king also explains that it is not important to have a university degree, but to have a job, and refers his subjects to practical training (vocational training) and manual work.

The number of unemployed graduates in Morocco is increasing, and this is a danger for the regime, as they claim their rights and draw the attention of the uneducated Moroccans to their rights. This is why Morocco is slowly phasing out “free” education. Both measures are in favour of the monarchy: The entry into military service ensures the influx of personnel for the police forces.
The development of the agricultural sector also benefited the Moroccan monarchy, as Morocco’s best farmland was in the hands of the royal family and other Moroccan families who worked with the Spanish and French occupiers between 1912 and 1956. For this reason, the agricultural sector in Morocco is completely exempt from taxation. The royal company is the country’s largest producer and exporter.

Source: https://amazighinformatiecentrum.medium.com/wat-doet-de-koning-aan-de-sociale-onrust-in-marokko-98bf7283b987
Translated by: Najat M

Increasing tensions between Morocco and Algeria?

Moroccan-Algerian border. Wikipedia

Both Algeria and Morocco were French colonies in the last century, so the French government established the borders between the two countries.
But after decolonization both countries contested this border. This resulted in an armed border conflict, also called the Sand War. This war, which took place in 1963, lasted more than 4 months, with a total of about 500 deaths. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has been very tense.
In addition, Algeria, Polisario, supports an independence movement in Western Sahara. It claims the former Spanish territory (Spanish Sahara) divided by Morocco and Mauritania. Morocco was engaged in an armed struggle with Polisario between 1975 and 1991. As of last weekend, this struggle flared up again. How big is the chance that Morocco and Algeria will fight a direct war with each other again?

In a series of video conversations the Algerian former military and politician Khaled Nezzar discusses the tense relationship between Morocco and Algeria.
The retired and high-ranking Khaled Nezzar (1939) served in the Algerian army between 1962 and 1993. He held various positions as commander of the Algerian troops stationed in Béchar-Tinduf, an area bordering Morocco. In this capacity he collaborated with Polisario. He had information about the Moroccan Army and other secret information at his disposal.
In 1990, Nezzar was appointed Minister of Defence and as such was a member of the Supreme Council of State that ruled Algeria between 1992 and 1994. In this capacity, he met King Hassan II and negotiated, among other things, the extradition of persons accused of terrorism by Algeria who had fled to Morocco.

General Khaled Nezzar in 1989 with the then Algerian president Chadli Bendjedid in Algiers. Photo: AFP

A remarkable fact that General Nezzar reported in an interview with Algerian TV channel Echorouk News is; that he personally assured the King of Morocco that as long as the army is in power in Algeria, the Moroccan monarchy has nothing to fear from neighbouring Algeria.
This means that two dictatorial regimes in Morocco and Algeria, which have no popular support, will not fight each other, because their common opponent is the people.
The general goes on to say that the Algerian rulers have never given the green light to destabilize the Moroccan regime, although Algeria has a ready-made plan to do so. According to General Nezzar, Morocco has only a small army, which severely limits the troops’ room for manoeuvre.

General Nezzar with Ahmed Osman brother-in-law of Hassan II. Photo GettyImages

In other words: Morocco, with its more than 200,000 soldiers, excluding reservists, cannot fight three potential wars at the same time (Spain in the North, Algeria in the East and Polisario in the South). And if Algeria’s aim was to destabilize the monarchy in Morocco, there was ample opportunity to do so during the coup attempts against Hassan II in 1971, 1972 and the great uprisings in Morocco in 1963 and 1984. However, Algeria never decided to do so and there are no concrete signs that the military junta in Algeria wanted to overthrow the Moroccan regime or play an important role in it.


Traslation: Najat M.

Four years after the murder of Muhsin Fikri, the repression continues in the Rif

Banner Riffian Sit-in, Brussels, October 28, 2020

Every year on the 28th of October, the world’s Riffians commemorate the terrible and barbaric murder of the fishmonger Muhsin Fikri. On that day, 31-year-old Muhsin Fikri was crushed by Moroccan officials in a garbage truck in 2016. This crime was recorded on video footage showing how he was slaughtered in the presence of bystanders. This black day is permanently engraved in the Riffian collective memory just like the many other crimes the Moroccan regime committed against the people from the Rif.

For the new generation of Riffians, the cowardly murder of Muhsin Fikri is a tangible proof of the crimes committed over and over by the Moroccan regime in the Rif.

There have been and are still many crimes: during the popular uprisings of 1958/1959, just after the withdrawal of Spain and France from the Rif in 1956, the Moroccan regime massacred the Rif population. Subsequently, in the 1960’s, there was a mass deportation of Riffians to Europe under the guise of employment as a guest worker. In the 70’s, Riffians who were active in the opposition and trade union movement were arrested and imprisoned. During the student protests in 1984, many Riffians fled their country for fear for their safety. And this development continues to this day, as the report below will show.

Massive protests after a barbaric murder

It did not stop at the deaths in 1984. In 2011 there were another five deaths, this time in Al Hoceima, which happened during February 20 movement, although these young people were not actively involved in the movement. All the evidence of murder of these young people point at the regime. In 2015, the lifeless and beheaded body of the rapper and activist Rifinox (Hussain Bellagrache) was found in the Nador region. The regime is held responsible for this macabre murder by Riffian activists.

From 1956 to the present day, many Riffians go missing, some of them disappear on the orders of the regime, another part is swallowed up by the Mediterranean Sea while fleeing the repression of the regime.

These events and the assassination of Muhsin Fikri prompted the population of the Rif to take immediate and massive action. Thousands of Riffians took to the streets and demanded an end to the militarization of the Rif, an end to the humiliation, contempt and killing of the Riffians.

These protests culminated in a popular movement called the Hirak Reef. For months, the Moroccan regime ignored the large and peaceful protests. The peaceful and massive demonstrations of the Hirak took place every week in different regions of the Rif.

Kidnappings and rape in the Rif

However, in May 2017 the Moroccan regime reacted with an unprecedented repression on the demands of the peaceful demonstrators.

More than a thousand Riffians were abducted from their homes by force, forcing the house doors in the middle of the night, tearing the victims away from their families and taking them to unknown destinations, leaving their loved ones in bewilderment and ignorant of the fate of their loved ones.

This fate did not only affect young healthy adult men, but also people with disabilities, women and minors did not escape state terrorism. The young singer Salima Ziani (1994) better known as Silya Ziani from Al Hoceima was kidnapped by Moroccan police on June 5, 2017 and taken to Casablanca where she was tortured, filmed naked and threatened with rape.

Nasser Zefzafi the spokesperson of the movement was kidnapped by Moroccan police officers, raped with a bat and urinated on him. At the police station, he was filmed naked like other abductees and DNA material was taken without permission.

Protests for the Rif in Europe

Riffians protesting, Amsterdam 05 November 2016

The Riffians of Europe also reacted fiercely and massively to these crimes committed by the Moroccan regime. After the murder of Muhsin Fikri, they took to the streets to stop killing, humiliating and expelling Riffians from their own country. Because of their open criticism of the Moroccan regime and organizing protests, many European Riffiand activists did not dare to travel to Morocco for fear of arrest in the knowledge that they too are controlled by the regime. Even though these citizens have a European nationality, Morocco continues to see them as its own nationals. The Dutch and Belgian governments have let it be known that there is nothing they can do about this.

Morocco has tried to accuse a well-known Riffian activist who is in Dutch government service of subversive activities. Morocco then asked the Netherlands for his extradition. After a thorough investigation by the Dutch government, Morocco got zero on the petition.

However, a Belgian from the Rif was arrested and imprisoned in Morocco. Belgium did not take any action for this citizen, it is said that the country did not want to damage its good economic and political relationship with Morocco.

Killings during demonstration

Imad El Attabi

During the last protests in the Rif, 22-year-old Imad El Attabi was killed by a police bullet during the demonstration of 20 July 2017 in Al Hoceima. The cab driver Abdelhafid El Haddad died from the effects of the inhalation of tear gas, which was frequently used during this demonstration.

Many Riffians participating in the protests received a call to report to the police station where, under threats and humiliation, they were forced to sign a statement promising not to demonstrate again. During show trials more than a thousand Riffians were sentenced to prison terms ranging from a few months to 20 years imprisonment. Among the long sentences are several activists such as Nasser Zefzafi, Mohamed Jalloul, Nabil Ahemjik etc.

Militarization and economic embargo

In order to strengthen this policy of repression, the Moroccan regime had new prisons, police stations and barracks built in the Rif. In addition, the borders with the ‘Spanish enclaves’ Ceuta and Melilla were closed, causing thousands of Rif families to lose their livelihood.

These illegal and semi-illegal practices such as smuggling oil from Algeria, drug smuggling and human trafficking, and smuggling products from Ceuta and Melilla and Algeria, which are a large part of a parallel economy, have been promoted, to say the least, and partly set up by the regime. They are now partly restricted in order to affect the population.

This parallel economy was created so that the Riffian could never form an economic power. Even Riffians that want to invest their money in Rif do not get a license to do so, but are told to do so in other parts of Morocco. Also, the hard currency of Riffians in Europe and the real estate profits benefit the Moroccan regime through the Moroccan banks.

After the popular protests and the subsequent show trials, nothing has changed, the provocation, intimidation and humiliation of the Riffians by Moroccan officials both on the streets and in government buildings are the order of the day, Riffians are bullied with the words like, son of a Spaniard.

King Hassan II called the Riffians ‘scum’ in his speech of January 1984. His son Mohammed VI called them ‘nihilists’ in his speech from the throne in 2017. Moroccan politicians follow the good examples of their king and express hurtful insults about the Riffians, which they put on social media and in the Moroccan media, including terms such as scum and nihilists.

The persecution in the Rif continues as well, recently two youngsters have been sentenced by a Moroccan court to imprisonment for wearing the Rif flag.

The situation in Rif is worrying

All this makes the situation in the Rif very worrisome, the regime has curtailed important sources of income in the Rif, in addition, the fishing port of Al Hoceima had to make way for a pleasure port. Many wipers lost their jobs as a result. The trade in products from the ‘Spanish Enclaves’ Ceuta and Melilla has been stopped by closing the borders. There is hardly any employment in the Rif, so people are struggling from craftsmen and manual workers to businessmen. There are currently families who can no longer do their shopping and are forced to sell their furniture in order to stay alive.

Riffians fleeing to Europe

Archive Image of a rescue operation of a boat, EFE

To escape this reign of terror, thousands of Riffians flee their homeland and leave for Europe. Among them are women and minors. A new phenomenon is that whole families are now fleeing from the Rif. In Europe there is no end to their suffering because they disappear into ‘illegality’ and end up in wretched conditions. This stream of refugees continues.


Translation: Najat M.

Mohammed Ameziane (1860-1912) one of the first Riffian resistance heroes

When Spain and France divided Morocco in 1906 during the Algeciras Convention and the Rif was occupied by Spain, the Riffians immediately came into resistance. This resistance was led by Mohamed Ameziane. Under his leadership the resistance culminated in the first Rif war. Who was this man?

Mohammed Ameziane, better known as Muḥand Ameẓyan is one of the first Riffian resistance fighters during the Spanish occupation of the Rif. Ameziane means ‘small’ (*) in the Rif Language. According to tradition he was born around 1860. He attended the Koranic school in his native village Azghenghan, after which he studied at the Al-Qaraouiyin mosque in Fez.

Ammeziane was a cattle trader in the Rif, but also worked in the then French colony of Algeria, like many other Riffian seasonal workers. He was known as an honest and helpful man. People who knew him described him as intelligent and as someone who loved his country. He had a good reputation among the Rif tribes. People asked him for advice and help in case of disputes, which he said he often managed to solve.

Around 1902 a Moroccan rebel named Jilali ben Driss Zirhouni al-Youssefi alias ‘Bu Hmara’ managed to bring part of the Rif under his control. At that time he sold Rif mines and raw materials from the Rif to France and Spain. In order to exploit the mines and build railway lines, Spain annexed areas in the vicinity of Melilla, a Rif city that had been in Spanish possession since 1497. Ameziane was one of the first to unmask Bu Hmara’s evil practices and collaboration with the European settlers. He therefore fiercely campaigned against Bu Hmara among the Rif tribes.

In 1909, a Riffian delegation led by Ameziane visited Sultan in Fez (then residence of the sultan) with the request to support the resistance against the Spanish expansion in the Rif. The Moroccan and Alawite Sultan refused to respond. Ameziane decided to organize the resistance himself and managed to unite several Rif tribes to defend their country. This resulted in a direct confrontation with Spain.

A photo in circulation of Mohammed Ameziane, it is claimed that this photo is not his.

Mohammed Ameziane resisted the Spanish invasion and rejected attempts at bribery by Melilla general José Marina Vega’s military director.

On 27 June 1909 a number of Riffian chiefs met to discuss how they could prevent the construction of the Spanish railway line connecting the mountains of Iysan and Iharchwen with the city of Melilla.

This led to the Rif tribes, led by Mohamed Ameziene, fighting Bu Hmara and overcoming him in 1909 when he and his men fled the Rif.
Subsequently, on 9 July 1909, Ameziane gave the order to attack the troops guarding the construction of the Spanish railway line in the Rif. This battle, which lasted until July 27th of the same year, and became one of the greatest Ameziane fought, was called Aghazar Ouchen (Wolves River) by the Riffians. Spain lost many troops during this battle, including General Guillermo Pintos Ledesma. This battle is known in Spanish history as Desastre del Barranco del Lobo.

Spain sent a new army consisting of more than 4000 soldiers and three generals to the Rif. This led to a new battle with the troops of Ameziane, which, according to stories, no longer consisted of 1500 people. This battle took place on 20 September 1909 at Ijeddayen in the area of the tribe Ayt Chichar. Also this battle was lost by the Spanish army. The Riffian warriors managed to capture a lot of weapons and ammunition during this battle.

The Riffian resistance could win these battles because it was well organized, the tribes made a number of their men available to provide the resistance with fighters permanently. They were free to decide if and how they wanted to organize themselves, which and how many men they wanted to make available and possibly replace and/or supply ammunition.

The different tribes and their fighters were able to warn each other of hostile troop movements by lighting fires on the higher mountain tops. Because of these signals, the alternating firing of fires, they were quickly aware of a possible hostile attack and the troops were quickly on the spot to repel it.

Ameziane fought several battles against Spain in which he inflicted enormous losses on the Spanish army. They suffered loss of men, which also killed senior Spanish officers with a rank of colonel and general, but also enormous material losses.

In 1912 this came to an end. On 15 May 1912 he was killed by a unit of Regulares in the region of Ayt Sidal. The Spaniards brought his corpse to Melilla, where it was exhibited as a spoils of war; on the way it was shown to the Riffians to deter them. He was buried in his hometown Azghenghan in the Rif.

* Due to the name Muhammad being used many times in Rif families after the Arabization of North Africa from the 7th century, they add Ameziane (small) or Ameqrane to the names of Muhammad to distinguish them from each other.

Source: Amazigh Informatie Centrum
Translation: Najat M.

Prisoner of Conscience Mohamed Jalloul

Mohamed Jalloul before the imprisonment in 2012

Mohamed Jalloul, before his ‘arrest’ in 2012 he was asked by Radio Rif why he called Morocco „Amur N Akuc“ and not the Maghrib. His answer was: “I use the word Amur N Akuc and not the word Maghrib because Maghrib is the Arabic word for the place where the sun sets. If I use the word Maghrib it will seem as if I am in the east. I am in my own country. When I say Maghrib, my reference is abroad and my landmark is the Middle East, while I am in my own country. That is uprooting, we are in Amur N Akuc which means the land of God. That is the original name of Morocco. But when we use the word Maghrib, we suggest that we are part of the East and that we are not independent”.

Mohamed Jalloul and Nasser Zefzafi

Mohamed Jalloul (1971) is a Riffian teacher, human rights activist and trade unionist. He was imprisoned for 5 years for his participation in the February 20 movement in 2012. Shortly after his release, he was re-arrested on 26 May 2017, three days before his fellow fighter Nasser Zefzafi was arrested for his participation in the Riffian people’s movement too. He is the father of three children. His underage daughter Houda had to make a statement to the police after she protested against the kidnapping of her father.

Mohamed Jalloul together with his daughter during a demonstration in the Rif

In June 2018, Mohamed Jalloul was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in a sham trial. On appeal in April 2019, the sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment was maintained.


Translated by Najat M.

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