There is much literature and research work to be found at the national level and abroad which proceed to study and analyze the Moroccan National Movement in terms of given historical, social, cultural and political facts. The National Movement took over the struggle from armed conflict and replaced it with political action organized based on a ideological basis with a program of focused activities and clear national goals.

The facts of this political activity and their implementation were manifested as protest movements against the first administrative measures taken by the colonial power which impacted the vital needs of Moroccan citizens. These were manifested in gatherings in mosques, in meetings organized in public places where fiery speeches denounced the policy of ethnic segregation advocated by the Protectorate Administration, in petitions, in telegrams, in confrontations with the occupying army and in response to colonial repression, in calls to the youth and to boycotts of colonial products.

Diverse theses and opinions have clashed with one another with regards to these different manifestations of political activity:

A number of analysts in their evaluation of the struggle waged by the National Movement took into consideration only the activists who played primary roles during its inception and during its evolution.

Others have looked at the struggle from a partisan viewpoint, that is from a sectarian position dominated by clan mentality.

Still others have attempted to recognize only the activities waged at the local or regional level.

And finally others and have taken this period of the struggle against colonialism as a national given with the objective mindset of a historian or the impartiality of a meticulous researcher fully aware of their responsibilities.

But despite their diversity in approach, orientation and in the historical, intellectual and political objectives dictated by personal dispositions which, even if they do not see the light of day, they have motivated in each and everyone a certain way of thinking about historical literature. These works are considered in their quasi-totality as a data base which is worthy of being a source of information some of which was previously unpublished and as a reference likely to allow some codification of this historical period of the Moroccan National Movement.

This is explained by the fact that the legacy of this wealth of knowledge contains useful facts and information to assist a responsible and impartial researcher with the process of verification, comparison, reconciliation and correction. And it is precisely in this wealth of knowledge that Salé has the best assets. A greater share of the latter is due to its geographic location that allowed it a central role in the history of Morocco over the course of its civilizations, from its expansion due to the national and international environment since its earliest days and by the activities and endeavors deployed by its inhabitants from all social classes combined

These givens and mindset dispositions have had a considerable impact on the distinguishing characteristics of this city. They allowed it to engender great houses, foyers and families. From father to son, they have passed on the prestigious sciences and literature of their time as well as the aptitude to confront all obstacles and battle all difficulties. In addition they passed on their inclinations for diplomacy, their experience working for the Makhzen, for the judicial and legislative bodies, and their militancy within the nationalistic political ranks and their enlistment into armed combat.

Moreover this wealth of knowledge allowed Salé to be ranked among the cities at the cutting edge and figure amongst those that were present on the front lines of battle for liberation since the second decade of this century. In other words well before the Latif movement was launched against the Berber Decree, a movement that a number of historians and politicians consider to be the starting point to the birth of the Moroccan National Movement.

In reality the Berber Decree was only a political ploy by the colonial authority to counteract the beginnings of the awakening and national revival which started to grow. Most notably in Salé this began in the 1920s with the positions held by Commander Abdallah Bensaid and those of Haj Ben Aissa Laâlou who the protectorate exiled in 1920, the first was sent to Oujda, the second to Safi, thus sanctioning their patriotic acts which were judged to be incompatible with the new fiscal policy established by the colonial power.[27]

Let me layout this argument with a quote from Georges Oved who notably wrote about this matter:

Contrary to widespread common opinion, not only was the nationalist movement not born due to protest against the Berber Decree but that the latter was conceived as a means to oppose nationalism.

This early awakening is considered as one of the most salient specifics of the national acts in the city of Salé.

These early acts were first of all revealed in the thoughts of the men and women pioneers of the National Movement as well as in their intellectual and social situations.

They then were manifested in the activities of the mindful elite and those of the militant and dedicated workers, craftsmen and the rural populations who were drawn in to the cause defended by these men and women pioneers. They deserved recognition as Salé's historian, Mohammed Zniber, underlined:

... to promote the emergence of leaders and to establish the popular basis for higher political authority in as much as a tree should in no manner hide from us the forest.

These were the early acts and their proper characteristics that brought authors of some writings and books that recently appeared to qualify the city of Salé sometimes as the "city of the national press" or as "the center of popular nationalism." Others described it as a "city of knowledge and militancy" or even "city of literary clubs, cultural centers and youth and sport clubs."

In fact, the city of Salé's activities were a means to awaken mindfulness and to mobilize the social strata around the national cause in its different social circles.

The talks that will be presented during this colloquium and the discussions that will take place on the sidelines of this communications will certainly touch upon a good number of these early acts.

It is highly likely that these talks and discussions will bring forth new elements and an in depth analysis of events that impacted the period of interest taking into account potential new information. The latter could be provided by the conference speakers, the researchers participating in the roundtable on one part and on the other by the valuable testimonials which will be supplied by the memories of those still with us who lived through all or some part of the events that were either brought about by others in the National Movement or ones they contributed to from near or far to shape or to leave their imprint on the direction that was taken.

In the final analysis there are reasons to emphasize certain aspects specific to the city of Salé. Over the course of the 1930s and 1940s the city has been characterized by a social environment marked by a spirit of tolerance and coexistence between the elements of the social body. This mutual respect exists within homes and between families for the entire urban population and this despite the differences between rich and poor and the diversity of opinions with regards to political ideas and concepts of each.

The respect for the opinions, especially that of others, is part of the commendable moral qualities of a society which deems that it is unhealthy to disrespect the sociable rules and conventions. Intellectual or family interactions are held in a mature fashion which promotes a highly civilized dialogue.

It is our hope that this responsible and mature dialogue prevails over the workings of this roundtable so that it becomes a veritable reservoir of additional knowledge and a reference source for writing the history of the National Movement. For as we all know today, this history is in the process of being rewritten and historical facts are being scrutinized thanks to questions raised by the generation after independence interested in investigating the past history to better understand the present.

We strongly hope that the initiative taken today by the city of Salé following the example of a number of actions that it initiated since the 1920s, will be a step that will be followed by identical steps by the rest of the cities and regions of Morocco motivated by the desire to contribute to the writing of a well grounded and organized history of the National Movement allowing newer generations to draw lessons and examples to reflect upon with regards to this prestigious part of our past.

By doing so they will be able to submit these facts and its cyclical features to a detailed analysis taking into account the criteria of the period, a prerequisite to better grasp the complexity of current times.

Finally, we must point out that the ideas laid out in this paper reflect in a general sense the debates held by the members of the scientific commission charged with preparing the themes of this roundtable.

This paper which also intends to reflect the ideas that came out of the summary of communications presented by the researchers, is a document likely to steer the debates and will itself be subject to amendment at the beginning of each scientific session which start tomorrow as indicated in the program of the colloquium.

Consequently all of you are requested to make your presence amongst us felt so that you can with your ideas and viewpoints enrich the debates and bring your precious contributions to the research efforts. These efforts are currently being deployed to understand all the adventures along the footsteps taken by the men and women volunteers of the National Movement during the 1920s and 1930s..

You will thus fulfill a national duty by actively participating in increasing the understanding we have of this prestigious period of our history.

Dr. Zaki Moubarak

The University Institute of Scientific Research - Rabat

NB :

We provide below the outline of the roundtable agenda and point out that only a portion of the presentations have been translated into French and included in the current publication. The version completely written in Arabic will be released separately by the High Commission of Veterans and the members of The Liberation Army in collaboration with the Bou Regreg Association in Salé.

(Editor's Note)

[27] These exiles were some of the first measures taken against patriotic Moroccans during the Protectorate era which at the time was only in its eighth year of existence in Morocco.