As soon as news of the arrests of the leaders of the National Party spread, large scale demonstrations were held in the major cities of the country. The most important of these demonstrations occurred in Salé, Kenitra, Fez and Oujda.

  • Gathering at the great mosque of Salé

    Following the directives of Mohammed Ben Hassan El Wazzani, Ahmed Maâninou expressed the Qawmi Party's total solidarity with the National Party in facing the severe ordeal it endured and told the leaders of its Salé branch that their movement will participate with them in the ensuing demonstrations. A coordination meeting led to the adoption of a common position and the two parties organized marches in the public and market areas to invite the merchants to close their shops and join a gathering at the Grand Mosque of Salé. During this effort, two leaders of the Qawmi Party, Mohammed Bekkali and Mohammed ben Mekki Kadiri were arrested and summarily judged and condemned to one fixed month in prison.

    The gathering took place as expected on October 27, 1937 at 4 PM, the hour of the Asr prayer. Said Hajji's presence was noted although he did not speak on this occasion as he had always done previously perhaps so as to not be uselessly arrested for a long period which would prevent him from staying active in the political arena. In contrast Ahmed Maâninou's absence was noticed even though he had ordered his party's militants to participate in the demonstrations.

    Aware of what will happen to him. Abou Bakr Kadiri gave an impromptu speech in which he voiced vividly the protests of all in the national movement following the arrests of the leaders of his party and that the whole nation was in full solidarity with them. He took this occasion to remind all of the principle demands of the Moroccan people with respect to public rights namely the rights to a free press, to assembly, to form associations, to unionize, and to bear grievances. As soon as he finished his speech, he was forcibly escorted to the civil comptroller's headquarters where was remanded to prison in conformance with the decision taken by the Residence General of France in Rabat which provided for a fixed one to two year imprisonment for any person who disobeyed the public authority's orders and gave a speech in a mosque.

    After exiting the mosque, the faithful crowd from all political leanings formed a procession and proclaimed as one the Latif prayer. The demonstration, incited by inspiring appeals for solidarity by Mohammed Azouzi and Abdeslam Bensaid, headed to the residence of the Pasha to express their unanimous protest against the measures taken by the French administration in attempt to silence the patriotic movements. After they arrived, the two speakers were arrested and sentenced to a year in prison. Other demonstrators suffered a similar fate with sentences of up to three months in prison. As for Abou Bakr Kadiri, he received a fixed on year term.

  • The large demonstration in Kenitra

    Responding to the call of the regional office of the National Party, a large demonstration was led by the local leader of the party, Mohammed Diouri. This demonstration was marked by a bloody brawl between the demonstrators and the police which ended with several deaths and dozens injured

    The regional leaders were all incarcerated and most were sentenced to two years in prison and then transfered to several places in the Sahara desert where they were put into forced labor working in extreme weather conditions that they were not accustomed to. Later they were taken to the Casablanca civilian prison where they were regrouped with other political prisoners brought in from various regions of the country. They were detained in individual cells or in small groups.

  • The demonstrations in Fez

    The city of Fez witnessed several demonstrations during which the followers of the Qawmi Party, led by Mohammed Ben Hassan El Wazzani, participated side by side with the militants and sympathizers of the National Party. There was a sense of great tension during these events. A city wide strike involving all sectors was adopted. The occupation forces filled the main arteries and public squares of the city. Everywhere the demonstrators brawled with the armed forces. The demonstrations were driven by two of the main leaders of the Fez branch of the National Party, AbdelAzziz Ben Driss and Hachmi Filali who took turns exhorting the crowds with fiery patriotic speeches.

    As was the case in Salé and in Kenitra, the demonstrations ended with the arrests of an impressive number of patriots who were incarcerated under the same conditions as the aforementioned cities. Among those arrested and imprisoned besides the speakers, AbdelAzziz Ben Driss and Hachmi Filali, there there was the poet Mohammed El Qarry who died during the torture inflicted on him during his detention, and Mohammed Ibrahim Kettani as well as many regional leaders and militants of both parties.

  • The demonstration in Oujda

    The city of Oujda was the center stage of a very large demonstration in solidarity with the arrested leaders of the National Party's conference in Casablanca. This demonstration was led by the patriot Abdeslam El Wazzani who gathered an extremely large group of militants and sympathizers of both parties. The same scenario was repeated there as well with massive arrests and various sentences meted out.

    Days after these events cited here by way of example and other similar events elsewhere, General Noguès went to Fez on October 31 to give a speech in front of the city notables, representatives of the different trades and the foreign French press that circulated in Morocco. In his speech he justified the use of the armed forces to overcome the turmoil that reigned in the cities stormed by protestors and let it be known that he would continue to call for the use of force each time the political circumstances required their use.

Abderraouf Hajji