My dear friends,
"Among the faithful there are men who kept their word to God. Some have seen the fulfillment of their destiny, others are waiting fulfillment without a change in their convictions."
The Bou Regreg Association without doubt has earned a big success by organizing this symbolic gathering to attempt to collect the scattered and diffuse elements of the history of the Moroccan National Movement. I hope that this initiative both in terms of its goals and its historical impact, would be emulated by many cities and towns who brought a contribution, be it large or small, to the struggle to defend the country and to achieving its independence. It opens the way to a movement that should spread to all urban locations as well as in the countryside because the National Movement was not limited to one city or town or to only one region. The city of Salé is part of a whole. History of the National Movement can be completed only if we intensify our efforts and if we organize ourselves to write this history in a uniform manner. I am not saying the National Movement's history has not yet been written but I insist that it be made whole by research effots to recognize contributions from other towns and players during this crucial period of our national awakening.
In reality besides the fact that we must never in any manner let our collective memory fade, the new generations must understand the facts about their nation and become informed of the role played by the National Movement's history by the pioneers of Moroccan patriotism. Ignorance of this period of history by the rising generations would constitute a manifest deficit in their cultural upbringing and their national development.Just this morning, I was to learn that rare are those among the university students who know if only in a very approximate way the epic saga of the National Movement and the actors who distinguished themselves. Some students wondered if Allal El Fassi was a professor at the Karaouine University and had no idea of his role in the struggle for independence of the country nor that he had spent nine years of his life in exile. None of them was able to state that Mohammed El Fassi was a man of exceptional education,that he was a historian, a great patriot, a member of the resistance, the Dean of the University, the Miinister of National Education and the Minister of Culture and the Fine Arts.These shortcomings in the development of our youth do them no honor. The same is true for our city, small in size but big in terms of its engagement on the political scene as well as in its cultural and social contributions.
Salé belongs to the cities where the National Movement was engaged on the political battlefront by relying on its two wings, the wing of its men and that of its women. The city, my dear friends, played a primary role in the history of the National Movement and Morocco's contemporary history. I state this not as a matter of pride but because it is a duty to cite the good work of the Lord. Besides that I will illustrate this with some examples. Many people including myself believe the National Movement began in 1930. It is true that this date must be taken into consideration and it is up to us to keep it in our memory. We owe it recognition because the 1930 insurrection was a major event which stunned the colonial circles well before even the patriots had the time to realize its importance. That was the year when what is now commonly referred to as the Berber Decree was published. This decree presented an extreme danger for it was aimed above all else to divide the Moroccan people and to the annihilation of the foundations of the nation by calling into question its membership in the Muslim and Arab world. Oh how upset was I earlier today to see in the storefront of a bookshop a small sized book but of such enormous gravity with the title, The Berber Decree, a Lie by the Nationalists. A lie by the nationalists? And it was a Moroccan author who wrote and gave such a title and is sold in bookshops; something even the French in the darkest colonial period and despite the strong power they wielded would not have dared to utter. But we have ignored our history to the point where we have allowed free reign to such publications to distort the truth and fill the void we left in the publishing arena. It is a veritable calamity that saddened me not because of what was said but because our country pays the cost of having an author discolor the history of his country in a manner that is as much irresponsible as it is defamatory. Unfortunately this shows that despite forcing colonialism to leave our soil, its aftermath continues to act on some minds that we need to fight to eradicate the backward stench of bygone era of segregation.
The city of Salé has played an important role in the history of the National Movement. It suffices to recall its role in the vanguard of the fight against the Berber Decree and to cite the name of an important man, an uncontested leader who, while I did not always share his political views, deserved all the praise for what he did. This was a leader and an effective one at that named Abdelhadi Sbihi may God bless his soul. He was the first who became acquainted with the text of the Berber Decree in his function in the Directorate of Cherifian Affairs working in the department that translates the texts of laws and regulations established by the French. Abdallah Bensaid is another person that I absolutely must refer to. He was an unshakeable force to whom I dedicated a small book where I reviewed the highlights of his life and work as well as his resistance against colonialism which twice earned him banishment by the French, first to Oujda and a second time to El Jadida. The third individual that I wish to mention is the great scholar, Ahmed Sbihi, who published a book in which recommended a complete overhaul of the administrative machinery and economy of the Moroccan state. In 1910 and 1911 he advocated for the unfolding of an awakened Moroccan consciousness so that they organize an orderly system of living, improve their commercial transactions and all else that affected their progress. I deem that these three individuals were part of the group of patriots who proved their worth very early.
As for the actual pioneers of the National Movement who emerged in 1930, some are still alive while others have rejoined the Lord. Among them one must first of all cite Abdelkrim and Said Hajji, two leading lights who played determining historic roles during this period. This must be said to remove any ambiguity in this matter.
Later this month, we will commemorate the loss of an individual that was among the first pioneers of the National Movement and among the geniuses that this city has produced. Said Hajji, may the Lord have mercy on his soul, left us on March 2, 1942, or more than sixty years ago. This outstanding individual was a major player in some areas where very few have dared to attempt in Morocco. Said was endowed with a strong and penetrating mind and had futuristic, global and fertile vision of the revival of Morocco and for the path it should choose to follow. In his writings, his conferences and research he dealt with many fields of knowledge which I am sure would still today be extremely useful topics for reflection. His output was substantial, abundant and varied. He treated not only political nor social and cultural areas but also tackled a diverse set of subjects in either short essays or more substantial research. Hence we should review all these studies through today's perspectives to re-awaken our collective awareness for Said's themes from over sixty years ago are still burning issues today. One only has to review the articles of the 1930s and apply their leanings to the beginning of the twenty first century. What a marvelous man! Said Hajjji's cultural upbringing was vast as was his knowledge. I dedicated two volumes to him. I invite my friends, in particular today's youth and those interested in researching history to read the first volume which is a biography of Said Hajji who Abdelkader El Fassi called the "Sheik of Journalists." Said did not live long. He died at life's bloom when he was thirty.
I must also cite another individual amongst the pioneers of the National Movement, my longtime friend, Abdelkrim Hajji who was a member of the activist youth during that era. When he found out about the published Berber Decree, he made the rounds of all the Koranic schools of the city and when he arrived at the school led by Fqih Bensaid, he said, "You must recite the Latif prayer so that God will protect us from what the French intend to do to us." The schools students began to proclaim the prayer at the top of their lungs, chanting "Ya Latif, Ya Latif!" News of this spread to the French Controller of Civil Order and matters got worse for Abdelkrim. He was asked what he was attempting to do with this prayer that led a large group of young kids to go the Grand Mosque of Salé (as they chanted this prayer). It is also worth pointing out that Abdelkrim was in fact the author of the wording of the prayer proclaimed by the kids which was "Dear God our most Benevolent, we beg for your kindness with respect to the misfortune that has befallen us. We pray that you not differentiate between us and our Berber brothers who do not wish to return to nor to adopt again pre-Islamic traditions."
Another individual who played an important role in the National Movement's history is Mohammed Hassar who died at age twenty-six. May the current youth listen well, he barely reached this age when he passed away but was a member of the patriots from the first moment they mobilized to defend the country. He put all his efforts in play to ensure that his country had the opportunities for progress that it sought. He experienced the repression and the colonial jails. Mohammed Hassar had written many articles and they were published in the newspapers that existed in that period, including the Al Maghrib magazine founded by Mohammed Salhi of Algeria. On of his last articles which appeared during that period in the Cairo magazine Arrisala was republished last week in the Moroccan Al Alam newspaper which you certainly read in the columns of his paper. I recall when his physical constitution was still strong that one would take him for a real lion. He wore a djellaba made of coarsely woven wool and one day, after a discussion with Sheikh Chouéib Doukkali, the latter said to him, "You are a lion draped in wool."
Among the comrades who played a role in the National Movement, I must also name Haj Ahmed Maéninou who fought for the Moroccan cause and of course there were others.
The National Movement started real early in Salé. It is said that while Fez was recognized for the quality of its leaders, its politicians and its political initiative, Salé although only a small city had nothing to envy from Fez. Its ranks included all sorts of intellectuals who drove a wide cultural movement at the end of the 1920s and the early part of the 1930s. Moreover this activity was reinforced by contributions from Salé's feminine element. No one can deny the importance of women's central role in the National Movement of Salé. Many remember of them, Fatma Malki, who owned a textile workshop and plunged into the fray of the National Movement by ensuring the transport of arms and munitions from one location to another. She also regularly anonymously interacted with political detainees under the pretext of providing them with needed social assistance. How could one not invoke the militancy of a woman such as Rkia Lamrani and her role in the National Movement struggle? She currently is ill and I took this opportunity to wish her a prompt recovery. How can one not recall Khaddouj Msettes who sacrificed all her fortune to support the National Movement's activities and Fatma Zniber who a rank among the saints for she tirelessly and without any respite for the cause. All these women and those that I have not mentioned did all they could to facilitate the stay of students from various regions of the Sahara in Salé who came to pursue their studees at the Al Nahda school. They provided them with food and shelter and invited them to join them at home to enjoy the warmth of family during the religious holidays including the traditional rituals of sacrificing a lamb during Aid el Kebir. I must also reserve a spot for another woman who is still with us and who played a major role in education,Fatma Hassar, wife of the the pharmacist Larbi Hassar. It is impossible for me to mention all the women who made sacrifices for the national cause. And hence I will stay with the number I have mentioned here and ask those I omitted to please excuse me.
I thank my dear friends and I pray that God crown the activities of the Bou Regreg Association with success and to keep this group on the path it has selected so it remains always in the service of the national cause and our cultural aspirations. I end my speech asking one and all to refresh your memories in order to choose the right path forward.