During the period of the French Protectorate in Morocco, the national press was a real school of political and social awakening as well as a mirror which reflected the ambitions of the Moroccans and their hope to regain their liberty, to take in hand their own destiny and to recover back their national identity. Although it was confronted to a series of plots perpetrated by the colonial power, it succeeded to ruin all the plans of the enemy.

The actors who carried the responsibility of the Moroccan nationalism have proved to act with a rare competence both theoretically and on a practice level. The journalistic activity was an integrant part of the political process. It has contributed to the development of a well defined programm aiming among its main objectives the fight against ignorance and underdevelopment, the denunciation of the misdeeds of colonialism and the psychological preparation of the Moroccan people to the claim of its rights to freedom and independance, by awakening its historical heritage and its deep rooting in the glorious civilization left by its ancestors as a legacy to the following generations. On the basis of these elements, the representatives of the National Movement started to defend with untied tongues the Moroccan cause in many a circle of the international community, and made hear the voice of our country. The pens were mobilized to orient the people towards its self confidence, drawing its attention on the right way which could lead to progress and to the political and social emancipation.

The newspaper Almaghrib, object of this study, was one of the reforming platforms which were engaged in this direction, in the exceptional circumstances of world war II. Its first issue was published on april 16, 1937. It was an informative and political daily newspaper. It appeared temporarily three times per weak. It was initially issued on a double page, then on 4 pages, then on 6 pages accompanied by special supplements of 12 pages and more. The newspaper was directed by Saïd Hajji, native from Salé where he was born on februar 29, 1912, issued from a family well known for its tradition of patriotic enthusiasm. When he reached the age of adolescence, his spirit quickly matured, and his patriotism burst in broad daylight. He created the association "Alwidad" in Salé, before leaving for England where he spent a whole year to brush up his English. Then, he went to the Middle East, where he pursued his studies during 4 years before regaining his fatherland where he took again his national, cultural and journalistic activities.

Abou Bakr Kadiri wrote in a biographical essay devoted to him:

"The personality of Saïd emerged whereas he was still a young adolescent, he nourished the hope to see his country taking the route of the reforms and the progress and seriously prepared to take part in the achievement of this objective."

In 1937, he created the newspaper Almaghrib in which he exerted his talents of journalist and did not spare any effort to take care that it kept functioning until the day of his passing on march 2, 1942. He was also one of the most important figures of the National Movement, since the birth of this movement and throughout all its existence, playing together with his other companions an avant garde role in denouncing the Berber Dahir of may 16, 1930. Then, he took an active part in the drafting of "the book of the claims" which was submitted to the High Authorities as well as to the French Government as a platform of a general Reform Plan in 1934. He had also a significant role in many actions he initiated with the purpose of inciting his fellow citizens to be conscious of their maroccanity and to be always ready to defend their country in the political, economic and social fields.

In his leading editorial of the first issue of april 16, 1937, Saïd Hajji put a plan into action for his newspaper, laying out the broad outline of orientation for the programms to come. He specifies that "Almaghrib" had to play a role of not neglecting any aspect of the Moroccan life which could require the intervention of an adequate reform, and hopes to become a real spokesman of Morocco, diffusing its news and reporting all what presents some interest for the different social milieus.

On the political level, "Almaghrib" will strive to contribute to the search of compromise solutions to settle as much as possible the disagreements which may intervene between the Moroccan people and the Governmental Authority. But, it must be clearly understood that Morocco has political rights that it is resolute to regain sooner or later, whatever the obstacles the country has to face and no matter how long the time required for such a reconquest is. These political objectives aim to ensure that the Moroccan people has the right to be treated with respect and dignity, that it is invested with the power to entrust the Governmental Authority and expects from the Government to manage the affairs of the country in the best interest of all.

In the social field, it will not fail to make the necessary effort to combat the harmful traditions which are even contrary to the spirit of Islam.

From the economic point of view, the newapaper intends to study the consequences of the economic crisis and the monetary fluctuations and try to show to the rising generation how to act with the means of modern time to be released from the chain of idelness in which they had remained locked up for quite a long period.

On the cultural level, "Almaghrib" promises to open its columns to the experienced representatives of the older generation as well as to the educated intellectual youth, and will endeaver to establish bonds between them. It will also keep all and sundry in touch with their counterparts in the Middle East with whom they share the same language and a common destiny.

Such was the general orientation of the newspaper. However, the attentive observer will notice that certain paragraphs hardly exceed the limits of general statements as imposed by the censorship. It is up to the reader to know how to read between the lines and to restore the missing words or the pieces of text which have been replaced by generalities in their right places. But, after making such a statement, one should not forget that, considering the standpoint of the newspaper with respect to many aspects of the colonial policy, it was on several times subject to measurements preventing it from appearing.

Thus, in number 100 of februar 4, 1939, the director of "Almaghrib" wrote under the title "Almaghrib renews with its publication" an article exposing the circumstances of the absence of the newspaper during all this period, and recalls that such "measurements do nothing but reinforce us in our conviction that we are on the good way and that the efforts which we deploy to reach our objectives are niot in vain, even if, in addition, the Moroccans let themselves cut down by the state of decline in which they are after having lost their force of resistance to the point where they do not take a step forwards without making several steps backwards."

He exposes in the following issue (101) the objectives of reforms to which our country aspires and explains them in the following terms:

"We request the implementation of the programm of reforms to achieve the single goal which is preoccupying us at the moment, namely the urgent and imperative necessity of respecting the Moroccan individual that is considered until now as a negligible quantity of no interest either for the others or for himself, and revalorizing the whole Moroccan society in order to make an end to the conditions of misery and underdevelopment. It is in the interest of both Morocco and the protective power to fight all together against ignorance, to apply repressive sanctions against the scrupleless judges for the wrongs they make endure to the disarmed population of complainants and to grant to the various social groupings enough freedom to facilitate their emancipation and help them to raise at the level of their responsibilities."

"Almaghrib" has reported the state of the hostilities during the second world war, in the same manner it had covered the Spanish civil war which had opposed the nationalists to the republicans on the front of Calalonia, as well as the victories registered by Japan and the military operations opposing the allied forces to the powers of the axis. It did not fail to inform its readers on the composition of the French cabinets on the occasion of every change of the government. It mentioned also the travels of the French General Resident between Rabat and Algier, and delivered circumstancial reports about the activities of the Government of the Protectorate as well in Morocco as abroad.

But when one knows in which circumstances the press activities were carried on in Morocco, placed as they were under the severe and threatening control of the censorship, one will easily understand that the director of "Almaghrib" tried by all means to ensure the survival of the newspaper in order to continue to exert his informative duty and fulfill the inciting mission of awakening the collective awareness. The articles of the newspaper were distributed in fixed headings such as "News from abroad," "Mail of the Arab Orient," "Internal news and events," "Know your country," "Little but convincing," in addition to the headings reserved for "Moslem Countries or Countries with Moslem Minorities."

Concerning the national events, the newspaper ensured an integral coverage of the royal activities, especially on the occasion of the vists of His Majesty Mohammed V to the various parts of the country. With respect to the Administration of Protectorate, the newspaper lowered or raised the tone according to the circumstances. The reader can have an idea of the firmness of the tone in one of the examples of the critical comments which were published under the heading "Internal News and Events." He will be able to read in number 61 of the year 1937, this correspondence of Casablanca signed Ibn Al Hassan and entitled "the strange tax":

"They pretend to have eradicated feudalism and have sustituted to the feudal system freedom and equality, putting thus an end at the era of despotism and mittle aged behaviours. but they apply what they say only between them, and nobody apart from them is admitted to enjoy their conception of liberty and equality. Only the colonists are entitled to freedom and the pleasure of a healthy and easy life. As for "the native", he was born to do the donkey work and be used as such by those who have profits to regulate and richnesses to covet."

"They pretend to have eradicated feudalism and have sustituted to the feudal system freedom and equality, putting thus an end at the era of despotism and mittle aged behaviours. but they apply what they say only between them, and nobody apart from them is admitted to enjoy their conception of liberty and equality. Only the colonists are entitled to freedom and the pleasure of a healthy and easy life. As for "the native", he was born to do the donkey work and be used as such by those who have profits to regulate and richnesses to covet."

This correspondence illustrates the despotism practised in Morocco by the very strong taxation which weighs on the peasants called to sell their goods in the large cities. It is completed by this disillusioned remark:

"You reduced their dignity by marking them with the branding iron of slavery, whereas they were born free. Is it thus so difficult for you to admit that a man born free and who sees himself deprived of this invaluable gift of heaven, aspires by all the means to recover back his freedom and dignity?"

There is also the heading "Little but convincing" in which Ahmed Ziyad exerted his talents of satirical chronicler, criticizing the political and social situation of Morocco during the hostilities. The articles of this heading deserve to be documented and submitted to a study reflecting what was the real situation of the country during the second world war.

After the death of Saïd Hajji, the direction of "Almaghrib" was entrusted to Kacem Zhiri who took his functions on June 16, 1942, date of the issue number 979 ,but this direction was of short duration and ended when the newspaper was condemned to cease its activities, after the events of January 11, 1944. The last issue that I could examine in the collection of the newspaper "Almaghrib" is the number 1416 of January 1, 1944. This collection which is still preserved in the library of Abdallah Guennoun in Tangier, was of a great help to me to achieve the present study on this eminently patriotic newspaper and its positions with regard to the national affairs, its challenges and the intrinsic quality of its team of collaborators who belonged to the cream of the young intellectuals, these same who count nowadays among the older generation, may God give long life to those among them who are still of this world and grant a right reward to those who regained the world of eternity.