Morocco A History, the Berbers, the Royal Family, and a True Story A History • Officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco, Morocco is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of over 32 million • Morocco’s first-known inhabitants were Near Eastern nomads who may have been distant cousins of the ancient Egyptians. • Phoenicians appear to have arrived around 800 BC, and when the Romans arrived in the 4th century BC, they called the expanse of Morocco and western Algeria ‘Mauretania’ and the indigenous people ‘Berbers’, meaning ‘barbarians’. The Berbers • In the 1st century AD, the Romans built up Mauretania into a city of 20,000 (mostly Berber) people, but, fed up with the persistently unruly Berbers, the Roman emperor declared the end of Berber freedom in North Africa in AD 40. • But, the Berbers in the Rif and the Atlas ultimately succeeded through a campaign of near-constant harassment, in pushing the Romans out (a huge feat at the time). • As Rome slipped into decline, the nomadic Berbers harried and hassled any army that dared to invade to the point where the Berbers were free to do as they pleased, thus ‘claiming’ Morocco. A traditional Berber A Nomad Berber: Berber Influence • The Morocco Berbers are considered an unconquered people, even today. • Today, most of the twenty-seven million Moroccans are either Berbers, Arabs, or Moors (people of Berber/Arab decent). • Most of the present day Berbers live in the mountains of Morocco while the Arabs and Moors live in the cities. Berber Language • Almost all Moroccans speak either Berber or Moroccan Arabic as mother tongues. • Interestingly though, Berber is not officially recognized in Morocco, though French (the old colonial language) is. • Many Moroccans master both languages at a native-speaker level. • Both languages are present in every city and town of the country and have regional dialects and accents. Islamic Morocco • In the second half of the 7th century, the soldiers of the Prophet Mohammed set forth from the Arabian Peninsula and overwhelmed the peoples of North Africa. • Within a century, nearly all Berber tribes had embraced Islam, although, true to form, local tribes developed their own brand of Islamic Shi’ism, which sparked rebellion against the eastern Arabs. • Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is based on the teachings of the Quran and the message of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. France Gets Involved • France took control of Morocco in 1912, making its capital at the city of Rabat and handing Spain a token zone in the north. • Opposition from Berber mountain tribes was officially ‘crushed,’ but continued to simmer away and moved into political channels with the development of the Istiqlal (independence) party. • The Istiqlal party is the main political force struggling for the independence of Morocco. • Independence from France was achieved in 1956, and the party then moved into opposition against the monarchy, which had asserted itself as the country's main political actor. Morocco’s Flag The Government • Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. • A constitutional monarchy (or limited monarchy) is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution. • This form of government differs from absolute monarchy in which an absolute monarch serves as the source of power in the state and is not legally bound by any constitution and has the powers to regulate his or her respective government. The Parliment • Most constitutional monarchies employ a parliamentary system in which the monarch may have strictly ceremonial duties or may have reserve powers, depending on the constitution. • Under most modern constitutional monarchies there is also a prime minister who is the head of government and exercises effective political power (ex – England). Moroccan Parliament Opening A Constitutional Monarchy • Unlike the Queen of England, the King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, including the power to dissolve the parliament, thus increasing his power (absolute). • Executive power is exercised by the government but the king's decisions usually overwrite those of the government if there is a contradiction. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Assembly of Representatives and the Assembly of Councillors. The king can also issue decrees called dahirs which have the force of law. The Royal Moroccan Palace, Rabat The Royal Family • The Alaouite Dynasty is the name of the current Moroccan royal family. The Alaouite family claim descent from Muhammad through his daughter and her husband. • They have been ruling the kingdom of Morocco since the 17th century. In the early 20th century, European powers vied for power in Morocco. • Sultan Abd al-Aziz IV displeased Moroccans by cooperating with the Europeans and was deposed (to remove from office suddenly and forcefully) in 1908. Moroccan Royalty • His brother, Abd al-Hafiz, took the throne but abdicated after the kingdom became a French protectorate in 1912. He was succeeded by his brother Yusuf. • Yusuf's son Mohammed V, who became sultan in 1927, was a widely respected nationalist. He was deposed by the French in 1953, but under increasing pressure from Moroccans and the Allies, France allowed Mohammed V to return from exile in 1955, where he took the title of king. • Shortly following, Morocco successfully negotiated its independence from France and Spain in 1956. • When Mohammed V died suddenly of heart failure in 1961, his son, King Hassan II became the leader of the new nation. King Mohammed V Moroccan Royalty Family Tree - King Hassan II • When taking over, King Hassan II consolidated power by crackdowns on dissent (to differ in sentiment or opinion) and suspending parliament for a decade. • Under his rule though, the growing gap between the rich and the poor ensured that dissent remained widespread across a broad cross-section of Moroccan society. • Morocco is a country where human rights violations have been commonplace and speaking against the King is a risk few dare to take. King Hassan II on his throne The Years of Lead • From their independence in 1956 through the 1990s, the Moroccan state sent thousands of dissidents and political opponents to prison. • During these decades, known to Moroccans as the “Black Years,” and/or “The Years of Lead,” the act of expressing an “unauthorized opinion” could earn years of arbitrary detention. • Political opponents of King Hassan II’s regime, many of them leftists or Islamists, were often “disappeared” and tortured or killed while in state custody. King Hassan II The Great Survivor• In all, Western officials estimate that at least 300 and perhaps as many as 700 political opponents of the King have vanished. • Many tried to assassinate him but King Hassan II survived half a dozen coups and assassination attempts to topple him from his throne • Known as the "great survivor" by his political opponents, Hassan became the longest reigning monarch in the Arab world after the death of Sadam Hussein. His crown remained in place while those of Libya, Egypt, Iran and Iraq toppled. • His survival was credited by luck and for many years, his “right hand man” General Mohammed Oufkir, who was in charge of Morocco’s security. King Hassan II General Mohamed Oufkir• In 1956, General Oufkir, was called upon by King Mohammed V (Hassan II father) of Morocco to set up the country’s armed forces. • This was the beginning of a closeness between the Oufkir family and King Mohammed V. • General Oufkir and his wife, Fatima, were often royal guests at the King’s palace. General Oufkir • This closeness was tested when the King asked the Oufkir’s for their eldest daughter, Malika. In no position to decline, the Oufkir’s allowed King Mohammed V to adopt then five-year-old Malika who lived luxuriously in the royal Moroccan palace and served as a playmate for his daughter, the young princess Lalla Mina (sister to Hassan II). Loyal to the King… • When Hassan II succeeded his father King Mohammed V in 1961, General Oufkir was put in charge of security services for Morocco. • He was very trusted by King Hassan II (and the most powerful figure in Morocco after the King) during the 1960s and early 1970s. General Oufkir and King Hassan II • Out of loyalty to his half-sister, Lalla Mina, a promise to his father, and a fondness for Malika Oufkir, when his father died, King Hassan II continued to raise General Oufkir’s daughter, now 8 years old, as his own adopted daughter for the next 11 years. • For all intents and purposes, Malika was raised by King Hassan II as a princess and his daughter and rarely saw her biological family; to her, they were almost like strangers. Loyal to a Fault? • As the right hand man of King Hassan II in the 1960s and early 1970s, General Oufkir led government supervision of politicians, unionists and the religious establishment. • He forcefully repressed political protest through police and military clampdowns, pervasive government espionage, show trials, and numerous extralegal measures such as killings and forced disappearances. • Harassment of dissidents was commonplace and several outspoken anti-government activists were jailed and tortured or forcibly disappeared by government forces or died mysteriously General Oufkir (right) The ‘Ben Barka Affair’ • A feared figure in dissident circles, the General was considered extraordinarily close to power. • One of his most famous victims is believed to have been celebrated thirdworld politician, the charismatic leader Mehdi Ben Barka, who had "disappeared" in Paris in 1965. • Among Mr. Oufkir's countless crimes, the most notorious is the assassination of Mehdi Ben Barka. Mehdi Ben Barka • All Moroccans ‘knew’ he had kidnapped and executed Ben Barka in 1965 as Barka was an “threat” to King Hassan II • A French court convicted him of the murder, even though he was living in Morocco and never served any time. Rising in Power • In 1967, Oufkir was named Interior Minister, vastly increasing his power through direct control over most of the security establishment. • After a failed republican Skhirat military coup in 1971, he was named Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense, and set about purging the army and promoting Hassan’s personal supporters. • The majority of the public feared him as much as King Hassan II. • His domination of the Moroccan political scene was now near-complete, with the king ever more reliant on him to contain mounting discontent from Moroccans against the regime. General Oufkir ~ 1970 The Coup D’Etat • Much to the nation’s shock, only a few years after his rise to power, General Oufkir was accused of plotting the 1972 Republican coup attempt against King Hassan II. • On August 16, 1972, three Northrop F-5 jets, acting on Oufkir's orders, intercepted Hassan's Boeing 727 as it returned from France. They then opened fire on the 727. • However, the F-5's guns were only loaded with practice ammunition and not missiles, lessening their effectiveness. One of the F-5 pilots also attempted to ram King Hassan's 727, but missed the jet. Northrop F-5 jet FAILED… • Reportedly, King Hassan (himself a pilot), grabbed the radio and told the rebel pilots, "Stop firing! The tyrant is dead!" Fooled, the rebel pilots broke off their attack. • Hassan's plane landed safely at Rabat's airport, which was strafed (to attack repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft) by air force jets, killing eight and injuring 40. • Kenitra Airport, where most of the rebellious air force officers were from, was surrounded and hundreds arrested. Royal Moroccan Air Force Base “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”• There were many speculations on Oufkir’s involvement in the coup • In an interview with the Spanish magazine Interviu in 1983, Ahmed Rami, who was vice minister to General Oufkir, finally spoke out. • The interviewer said of him, “Ahmed Rami is a marked man for his participation in plots and for all he knows about the crimes and corruption existing at the monarch's court, where sexual amusements, depravity and treachery are the order of the day. From his hideaway in Sweden he makes these surprising revelations” : “…it is no secret that Oufkir and Dilimi were people who had made a career by repressing the enemies of Hassan II, and that we, the 'Free Officers' were quite clear that they couldn't play an important role in the future of Morocco; but there were occasions when we required them all the same. Oufkir and Dilmi were professional soldiers trained in France, who in a decent regime would themselves have been decent, but they… The Realization …ended up being the instruments of Hassan II. For them the political errors were the sole responsibility of the politicians. But afterwards, when they realized that the King wanted them as mere guard dogs and that the Army was utilized as a police force, they began to change. The King turned them into a hammer repression, but the hammer suffers as many blows as the nail and also ends up feeling the effects. When they saw to what depths of moral and sexual corruption Hassan II sank, they determined to assume their responsibilities and attempted to overthrow him." Oufkir’s Death • Though official sources claimed that the General had committed suicide in response to the failure of the coup, his daughter, Malika Oufkir, claims to have seen five bullet wounds in her father's body, all in positions not consistent with suicide. • It is generally accepted outside of official circles that General Oufkir was executed by forces loyal to the Moroccan monarchy. The Sins of the Father… • Following General Oufkir’s death, Hassan’s rage over his betrayal could not be contained. • On orders of the king, Oufkir's entire family (his wife, six children ranging in ages from 3 to 18 – including Hassan’s adopted ‘daughter’ Malika, and two loyal family members) were then sent to secret desert prison camps. • The family, even though they had nothing to do with the coup, were punished for General Oukfir’s crime and as a demonstration of King Hassan’s power over dissents. • Public outcry over the abhorrent persecution of innocent women and children was instantly squashed by Hassan’s regime and no one in Morocco was allowed to even speak of the family. • The Oufkir family, in effect, disappeared for the next 20 years and were only whispered about behind closed doors. The Punishment… • Gilles Perrault, a French journalist, has said the Oufkir family has been pursued with "an inextinguishable desire for vengeance that is beyond any logic“ (referring to King Hassan II). • The punishment began on Dec. 23, 1972, when, after a few months under house arrest in Rabat, they were loaded into trucks and taken to Akka in the south. There, in a former barracks, they were held in isolation for a year. • They were moved to Agdz and then Tazenakhte, near the southern town of Ouarzazate. At the second of these prisons, the family was held blindfolded for a year in miserable conditions. • In 1977, they were moved to a farm converted into a secret prison at Bir-Jdid, about 30 miles south of Casablanca, where conditions grew worse and they suffered harsh treatment for an additional of 15 years. The Oufkir Family in Prison - One of the secret prisons at Bir-Jdid Picture smuggled out of Tamattaght prison in 1974 – imprisoned for two years so far – (from left to right) Abdellatif (5 yrs), Maria (12) , Malika (21), Raouf (16), Myriam (19) and Soukaina (11). The Escape… • Finally, in April 1987, with her weight down to 60 pounds, Malika Oufkir (now 39 years old) and three of her siblings escaped through a tunnel they had painstakingly dug. • For the youngest sibling, Abdellatif, who had entered prison at the age of three, seeing life outside the walls of confinement, was overwhelming for the now 23 year old. • After five days on the run and several desperate attempts to get help, they were arrested in Tangier. • During those five days they had managed to contact a French lawyer and the press. King Hassan II released them into house arrest in Morocco in 1987 due to pressure from citizens (and international press) over the inhuman treatment of the Oufkir’s for so many years. Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir • In 1991 they were among nine political prisoners to be released after US and European pressures on Hassan’s regime. However, they were still not “free” and were not allowed to leave Morocco. • After an additional five years under close police supervision living in Morocco, they finally fled to France. • Ironically, the Oufkirs became the face of the Years of Lead • Their story is detailed by Oufkir's daughter Malika in the memoir Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail • General Oufkir’s wife Fatima and his son Raouf also published their accounts of the period. Malika Oufkir Reviews of Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail “Earlier this year, the Oprah Winfrey Show featured Malika Oukfir, whose Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail was both an Oprah book of the month club selection, and a New York Times non-fiction bestseller. Oufkir—who also appeared on 60 Minutes, the Today Show, the Rosie O'Donnell Show, and NPR - recounted her imprisonment, torture, and extraordinary reversal of fortune at the hands of the Moroccan government, for rapt American audiences. Her reception is striking, not least because American interest in Middle Eastern and North African culture is so often reduced to the question, "Why do they hate us?" Still, the way her story was told in the United States—without historical or political context—raises troubling questions about human rights and the abuse of power.” - Reviewed by Susan Slyomovics – The Boston Review 2001 Justice Denied: The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted - review “…In graphic detail that makes the Turkish prisons described in Billy Hayes' Midnight Express seem like health spas, Malika relates how her family was eventually reduced to the point that they eagerly ate mouse droppings to supplement their meager food rations… Those conditions were at their worst during the ten years they spent at the Bir-Jdid prisons. Split into groups so they could fit into four adjoining cells, the nine members of the Oufkir clan were isolated in those cells and not allowed to see anyone in the other cells for eight and a half years…Although Stolen Lives would be a smashing good tale if it were fiction, it is all the more compelling since it is true. The book has spent several months on the LA Times Nonfiction Bookseller List, so it has proved its broad appeal…. Exceptionally well written, Malika's story comes alive in Stolen Lives. I was captivated from its first pages, and I alternated between being fascinated, disturbed and amused, sometimes on the same page. You can't ask much more of a book than that it entertain and educate at the same time.” - Review by Hans Sherrer for Justice Denied: The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted Various Covers of the Memoir - Review from From Booklist, American Library Association “The ways that people hurt one another are always hard to fathom, and why they do so is another mystery. It is true that General Oufkir probably led the 1972 attempted coup and assassination of King Hassan of Morocco. However, Oufkir's wife and children, including Malika, found out about it only after his execution. Still, guilt by association condemned them, without a trial, to more than 20 years of imprisonment, including more than a decade of near starvation and torture… After the coup attempt, Malika and other members of her family were exiled to an abandoned fort in the countryside. Within four years they were moved to the BirJdid prison, where their worst torment began. They would not see one another or sunlight for more than a decade. The physical toll of years of this treatment was bad enough, but the emotional toll was far more devastating. By the time they dug their way to freedom in 1987, they were emaciated skeletons. However, even then it would be another nine years before they were totally free. The question of why it happened is never really answered, but this is an extremely effective and graphic picture of what evil is like from the vantage point of its most innocent victims.” --Marlene Chamberlain Reviews of Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail “The Oufkir family shows the incredible strength and resilience of the human spirit throughout their ordeal. They have provided people a platform to speak about human rights violations in Morocco and have inspired the government to make small strides towards correcting the injustice. Malika may have written Stolen Lives to come to terms and provide some closure for herself, but in turn she has affected the lives of many others with her royalty to rags story.” - Review by Lauren Crawford for English Composition I – Oakland Community College Works Cited• Cohen, Roger. “King’s Wrath: Morocco Family Tale of 2 Decades”. The New York Times 25 Jan.1994. • Crawford, Lauren. “Palaces, Prisons, and Pardons.” English Composition I. Oakfield Community College. December 2007 • Fraser-Cavassoni, Natasha. "The Moroccan Prisoner." Harper's Bazaar March 2001:General Reference Center Gold. Gale. 10 July 2012 2007. • LeQuesne, Nicholas. "Palace Intrigues: Two new books recount a family's perilous ties with Moroccan royalty." Time International: 29 March 1999:General Reference Center Gold. Gale. 9 July 2012 • “Live Free or Die Trying: The Berbers.” BBC Worldwide. 7 July 2012 • Macleod, Scott. "From Palace To Prison: Malika Oufkir went from being a King's favorite to his enemy. Why her Stolen Lives has become a hit." Time 25 June 2001: General Reference Center Gold. Gale. 9 July 2012 • Oufkir, Malika, and Michelle Fitoussi. Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail. New York: Miramax Books, 2000. • Sherrer, Hans. “Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail.” Justice Denied: The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted. 2002 Works Cited• Slyomovics, Susan. “Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail.” The Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum. 2001 • “The Moroccan Monarchy” The World of Royalty. Web. 7 July 2012 • Wikipedia contributors. "Alaouite Dynasty ." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Jul. 2012. Web. 10 Jul. 2012. • Wikipedia contributors. “Constutional Monarchy." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Jul. 2012. Web. 10 Jul. 2012. • Wikipedia contributors. “Islamic Morocco." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Jul. 2012. Web. 10 Jul. 2012. • Wikipedia contributors. "Morocco." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Jul. 2012. Web. 10 Jul. 2012. • Wikipedia contributors. “The Berbers." 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