Friday, March 02, 2007

Acknowledging Morocco's Jewish heritage

It is all too rare for Arab Muslims to recognise that there is a Jewish component to their national identity. The Moroccan blogger Cherqui's Whispers bucks the trend by acknowledging that Jews were integral to Moroccan culture and history. He has posted an interesting article on Morocco's Jewish heritage, illustrated by sumptuous photographs of religious artefacts and synagogues, and based on an original post in French by Larbi . (With thanks: Esra'a)

" It's a long story that started very early, around Roman times. A tradition says that the Kahina, the Berber Queen, who was last to resist Arabic conquest, was actually leading a Jewish tribe (Kahina would be a form of Cohen). However, jews were very early well integrated in the Berber tribes in the south. In spite of their dhimmi condition, they used to bear arms to defend their tribe in the endemic raids and feudal disputes. This was a privilege which was totally forbidden in most other countries, and especially in Europe !

"A second wave of Jewish immigration came with the fall of the Cordoba caliphate, and populated Fez and Essaouira.

"More recently, Moroccan Jews were protected during WWII, and the King gave them Moroccan citizenship. (,,,)

"The Jewish part of Moroccan identity is still not well known, and that's a pity. Islam and Moroccan Judaism bear many similarities (traditions, ritual) which in the past sustained a wonderful Jewish-Muslim fusion in Morocco."


Moïse Nahon synagogue in Tangiers

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1 comment:

Marie-Aude said...

Thanks for linking and mentionning both blogs.

But I have to say I'm no Arab Muslim :) I'm the French Catholic wife of a Moroccan Muslim Berber :)

Larbi is Moroccan, and surely Muslim.

Anyway, in general, Morocca has a special history with Jews, and what i say and express in the blog has been transmitted to me by Moroccans, all Muslims.