"Al Alam" newspaper - January 29, 1990

Commemoration of the events on January 29, 1944. Principled resolve and selflessness; such were the forces that shook tyrannical colonialism.

On the occasion of the 46th anniversary of the uprising in the city of Salé on January 29, 1944, the regional office of the Istiqlal Party (Independence Party) had organized in commemoration of this important historic event a reunion on January 28, 1990 at the residence of Abdelhadi Sbihi, a senior member of the party.

During this reunion a ceremony was conducted to pay homage to the services rendered by the great patriot Abdelkim Hajji, one of the pioneers of the National Movement in Salé. This event was presided over by the honorable M'hammed Boucetta, Secretary General of the Istiqlal Party, Abou Bakr Kadiri,a member of its Executive Committee, M'hammed Diouri, Vice Secretary General and by Dr. Abdelhamid Aouad, the party's regional director for the Rabat- Salé Prefecture. In attendance were members of the National Commission, the Regional Committee, senior local party members, Istiqlal's youth and other invitees.

Speaking on behalf of the regional office, Aziz Haylali, began by welcoming the attendees and followed by reminding the gathering of the scope of this event to honor the patriot Abdelkrim Hajji which coincides with the anniversary of a most important historical event, namely the popular uprising of the masses of Salé in January 1944 within the framework of the Moroccan people's struggle against the colonial presence in their country.

This gathering, he added, is a testimony of the recognition granted to all those who made sacrifices in carrying out this act and remained loyal in spirit; fighting and waging the struggle for the triumph of justice, dignity and freedom to which all Moroccan people aspire.

He also expressed his pride to be part of organizing this ceremony in homage of the service rendered to the country by Abdelkrim Hajji, a patriot of the first order and a most deserved militant of the Istiqlal Party who remained faithful to his principles and cited by all as a role model for his patriotic commitment and honest conduct.

He concluded his speech by mentioning that the regional office plans in the next upcoming days to organize the project for a regional development school.

Ali Alachak, a member of the regional office, then took the floor, and painted a picture of Abdelkrim's life as a militant from his early days in the Koranic schools to his registrations at universities in Beirut, Damascus and Cairo. He also mentioned his days living in the United States of America and his return to Morocco on the wake of independence to assume new functions as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Afterwards he gave a brief glimpse on his patriotic acts and the role he played within the ranks of the National Movement.

Then it was Abou Bakr Kadiri's turn to speak in his capacity as one of the most fervent pioneers of the National Movement, a member of the party's executive office and the elder mentor of Salé's party members. He said of note:

"I am delighted to speak at this gathering to salute a militant who always was honorable and a companion in our struggle. I speak of my brother Abdelkrim Hajji known for his heartfelt generosity and loyal friendship and who I had the pleasure to know for over sixty years during which I took measure of his true value and got to know him intimately. I greatly appreciated his sincere patriotism, his determination during the struggle as well as his abilities and dedication.

I wish to underline that if Abdelkrim Hajji has done nothing to draw recognition to himself or to proclaim his contributions to the patriotic cause, this is due to a number of long held beliefs and moral values coupled with his exemplary selfless conduct. His past, of which I will not limit myself to say would make him proud, hid all these qualities which rare are those who could also claim. Given the time allotted to me, it would be impossible for me to convey with much detail all that I know about him so I will be content to relay only a few of Abdelkim Hajji's adventures.

Abdelkrim is the one who called for the recital of the (Catastrophic) Latif by way of protesting against the Berber Decree. I say with full knowledge of the facts that it was Abdelkrim who initiated this protest movement.

When the contents of the decree were revealed, only some of his comrades became aware of its gravity. At their head was Abdellatif Sbihi, then in the Bureau of Cheriffian Affairs, as an interpreter and intermediary between the (French) Residence General and the (Moroccan) Makhzen. As soon as he read the the text of the decree, he had no choice but to oppose it. He was so angry he began to denounce its aims behind the scenes.

After it was officially published, he met with a group of youth amongst whom was Abdelkrim Hajji. And when he was relaying to them what he knew of this affair he was overcome with strong emotion. Our colleague, Mohammed El Yazidi, who frequently met with him during this period, told me that he was fully aware well before others of the impact of the new decree and the dangers it represented to the national unity and the preservation of Morocco's religious beliefs. He contacted more youth and explained to them that the decree would completely transform Morocco's very nature and deprive the King of his sovereign right.

However Abdelkrim Hajji saw therein, in addition to the division between between Moroccan Arabs and Berbers, a serious conspiracy aiming to proselytize the latter. He began to think of the most effective way to fight against this act and thus decided to take the initiative to made the rounds of all Salé's Koranic schools and asked the Imams to recite the Latif prayer to pray for the Lord to come to the aid of our country and to save it from the calamity befalling it. And thus was how the Latif prayer was recited in a number of Koranic schools including that of Islamic teacher, Fqih Bensaid.

When Gabirelli, the Civil Controller of the Salé District and former member of the French forces who stopped the revolt of Rifi Chieftain, Abdelkrim Khattabi, was made of aware of this rebellious act, he summoned Fqih Bensaid to find out the reasons that led to the recital of this prayer at a time when the country was witnessing neither earthquake nor famine.

Bensaid replied that he did not know the reason and moreover that one of the youngest of Sidi Ahmed Hajji's sons had asked him to recite this prayer and hence he could not refuse to accede to his wish to pray for the Lord's assistance.

And so, Said Hajji was summoned but he denied all allegations charged against him.

Then it was Abdelkrim's turn to be summoned and in due form he was subjected to an interrogation. All this has been conveyed by Abdelkrim in an article that was published in the Daawat Al Haq magazine and reprinted in the Al Alam newspaper.

When news of the Latif recital had spread and when Abdelhadi Sbhi and the youth group he met with understood that the French were seriously shaken by the Latif recitals, they decided to repeat it again in the Great Mosque of Salé.

And that is how June 20, 1930 became the starting point of the protest movement.

My friend Mohammed El Yazidi, told me that he was on the terrace of a café in Rabat with Abdelhadi Sbihi when the latter was beckoned to answer a telephone call. He returned with tears in his eyes after being informed by Mohammed Hassar that the Latif prayer was cited as planned in the Great Mosque of Salé.

On the 4th of July, this prayer was cited in all the mosques in Rabat as was reported by Haj Hassan Bouâyad in his book on the Berber issue. Soon after it was cited in Fez it was followed by a major demonstration that was harshly suppressed by the occupation forces. The latter proceeded to arrest a number of very important militants who were subjected to all sorts of atrocities.

And so the merit of the recourse to use the Latif prayer as a means to fight against a decree that attacked our religious values and our identity is without contest due to Abdelkrim Hajji who today we give homage for his distinguished service to his country. We will not be far from thinking that the initiative he has undertaken was guided and supported by the Lord's Hand.

On another matter that I wish to raise concerns the celebration of the first anniversary of the Al Maghrib newspaper written in French under the supervision of the patriot Ahmed Balafrej in Paris. The celebration of the anniversary was decided in 1933 by a group of nationalists and not by the National Action Committee as some have claimed. Throughout this period I was in permanent contact with my colleague Mohammed El Yazidi after his return from exile. He had asked me to find a place in Salé to hold this celebration because he has encountered great difficulties in finding a suitable place in Rabat as well as in Fez.

I met with Abdelkrim Hajji to ask him if his father would not mind if this event could be held at his residence. He replied immediately in the affirmative, knowing in advance that his father would be delighted to host this Moroccan political group.

And so that is where this gathering, the first of its kind, was held. Important delegations attended; that from Rabat was driven by Mohammed El Yazidi and that from Fez by Allal El Fassi. Other attendees included Mohammed Ben Hassan El Wazzani, Haj Omar Ben Abdeljalil, Hachmi Filali, and Haj Hassan Bouâyad. This event marked a shining moment (in our history). Speeches were held that led to a new era in promoting national issues. In his talk, Omar Ben Abdeljalil informed the attendees that the (Parisian) Al Maghrib magazine will soon have its equivalent in a Moroccan newspaper in French to be named L'Action du Peuple. Thus our friend Abdelkrim Hajji is to be credited for his part in the first gathering of the core of the National Movement Party of this country."

The speaker moved on from the 1930s to December 10, 1952, a date soon after the Tunisian union activist Ferhat Hachad was assassinated. The French during this period had made the decision to crack down on the ranks of the Istiqlal Party.

"On that evening," Abou Bakr Kadiri continued, "I knew that they were going to arrest me. I was ready and waiting the security agents. Then a well known traitor by the name of Aissa knocked on the door accompanied by French soldiers. They led me to a shaded location in front of the Al Nahda School where a military vehicle was waiting.

As I got in, I saw that Abdelkrim Hajji was also inside. He was arrested before I was that same evening. Then they drove us to some military garrison and from there we were dispatched for exile to separated locations in the Moroccan Sahara.

Abdelkrim Hajji is a man of high patriotic integrity. He was always fully dedicated to the national cause and noted for his modesty and selflessness. It is not a surprise that he bears the name Abdelkrim (server of the Generous One) for he is generous of heart and mind and generous in every sense of the word. Greed is totally alien to him. That is the reason for which we are particularly happy to give homage to him this evening. We extend to him our warmest congratulations and pray that the Lord grants to him and to his noble family, a long life crowned with success in all undertakings."

The Istiqlal Party's Secretary General, the Honorable M'hammed Boucetta, then took the floor to express the deep emotions he felt upon listening to Abou Bakr Kadiri's speech during which he had reviewed some of the honorable phases of Abdelkrim Hajji's militant life.

He thanked the Salé regional office of the party for their successful initiatives to give homage to the city's patriots by recognizing the deeds they undertook in the name of their country and the struggle they waged for the success of the national cause.

Mi. Boucetta then added, that after homage was given to Ahmed Belyamani and to Mohammed Bekkali on January 29, 1989, the ceremony organized today in homage of Abdelkrim Hajji continues this commendable tradition.

The youth who are involved in organizing these type of gatherings belong to a generation that holds the torch of succession and follows with the courage, selflessness and determination of the patriots who preceded them. Thus they give substance to their commitment on their behalf. The Secretary General then urged the youth to take the example of the struggle waged by the pioneers of the National Movement to defend Islam and a united Morocco.

In addition he expressed his sincere satisfaction to learn during the speech on behalf of the regional office that the homage today to the patriot Abdelkrim Hajji and the future activity deployed by the office fall within the program framework adopted by the party. This proves they have taken heart the need to achieve its future goals and to provide praise to motivate them in the pursuit of their struggle along the footpath left by the pioneers of the National Movement.

The Honorable Boucetta said at the end of his address that he knew very well the brother Abdelkrim Hajji and that he heard everywhere nothing but the most positive of this man rooted and resolved in his patriotism, modest and endeavoring in absolute silence but with exemplary integrity and seriousness. Then, the Secretary General presented him on behalf of the regional office of the party, with a present of a cassette recording containing the 60 verses of the Koran as orated by Sheik Ali Abderrahman Al Hudayfi.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Al Mahdi Ben Lahcen addressed the audience to express on behalf of Abdelkrim Hajji his most sincere appreciation to all the attendees including the Secretary General, the Honorable M'hammed Boucetta as well as the members of the regional office and the host of the evening, Mr. Abdelhadi Sbihi.

On the following day, Abou Bakr Kadiri drove the Istiqlali members of the city to the Cemetery of the Martyrs to ask God to have mercy to all the victims of the bloody events that occurred on January 29, 1944.