Rabat - On Thursday July 23rd, the Moroccan people commemorated the 16th anniversary of the passing of King Hassan II.
Rabat – On Thursday July 23rd, the Moroccan people commemorated the 16th anniversary of the passing of King Hassan II.
This is an opportunity to remember a great King who left his mark on the Kingdom’s contemporary history and international diplomacy thanks to his genius, his vision and unparalleled personality.
Morocco World News invites its readers to discover five facts only few knew about the late King Hassan II.
1- Hassan II, the first foreign monarch to patent an invention in the United States
King Hassan II was always interested in medical science. He was also a lawyer who sponsored several international medical conferences in Rabat.
However, his greatest achievement was the invention of a system that combined videotape and an electrocardiogram to study heart function. The device improved the ability of doctors to study heart behavior while a person exercises.
King Hassan II received US patent 4,805,631, becoming the first foreign monarch to patent an invention in the United States of America.
In a statement to local media, a spokesman for the Patent and Trademark Office said the invention was the first patented by a King, adding that Abraham Lincoln patented an invention for riverboats before he became President.
2- Most people expected Hassan II to stay in power for a very SHORT time.
Most observers expected Moulay Hassan to fail as he ascended the throne on Feb. 26, 1961.
Most people doubted that Hassan would manage to unite the country after his father Mohammed V who died in 1961. Particularly, when he was a young Prince, the Western press often dubbed him as a playboy who liked gambling and actresses and was overly concerned with his wardrobe.
Jokingly to King Juan Carlos of Spain, Hassan II said that most people did not expect him to stay in the power more than six months.
However, Hassan II surprised all those who underestimated him and ruled Morocco for 38 years.
3 – Moroccans Believe King Hassan II enjoyed Baraka
Moroccans liked to say Hassan enjoyed a special “Baraka”, a mystical protective karma peculiar to some, thought to come from Allah, as he has a direct descendant from Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
The people believed this to the fact that he seemed to always emerge from difficulties unscathed. A master at managing Morocco’s complex quilt of ethnic and ideological forces, he maintained a hold on power that was by turns iron-fisted and deftly offhand.
Interestingly, his “Baraka” was mostly presumed in his escapes from a number of attempts to overthrow him, some of them particularly bloody.
On July 10, 1971 seaside at Skhirat Palace, about 2,000 commanded soldiers seeking to set up a military regime attacked his 42d birthday party. At least 100 guests were killed in the firing.
During the attack, Hassan II hid within the Palace. When the firing died down, he reemerged to find himself face to face with the leader of the rebel troops. It’s been said that Hassan II intimidated the leader by looking him in the eye and reciting the first verse of the Koran.
Another time on August 16, 1972, the King was returning from Paris aboard his private Boeing 727 when it encountered an unscheduled escort of four Royal Moroccan Air Force F-5 fighters. As the Boeing approached Rabat’s airport, the fighters fired on the plane, knocking out an engine and scoring other hits.
Hassan II, himself a pilot, seized the radio and shouted, ”Stop firing! The tyrant is dead!” — fooling the rebels into breaking off their attack. Then, back at the airport, he emerged and ordered the coup leaders arrested.
4- In death, as in life, Hassan was able to bring together old foes to find common ground
During his life, King Hassan II acted as a go-between Egyptian-Israeli efforts to make peace and to prolong the life of his 300-year-old dynasty in the midst of an era when monarchies in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran fell to socialist revolutions or the force of militant Islam.
In Chad (1984), he aided negotiations between France and Libya. Furthermore, he presided over the Al Qods Committee for the settlement of the status of Jerusalem. He discussed this during his visit to the Vatican in 1980 and during that of Pope John Paul II in Morocco in 1985.
The late King continued bringing enemies together into common ground, even after his death.
Hassan II’s funeral brought together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Ezer Weizman along with leaders from Arab nations, pointing trust that Hassan’s son, now King Mohamed VI, would follow his lead as peacemaker.
Among the Arab rivals were King Abdullah of Jordan, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Reports suggested that Israel’s Barak was expected to meet with Syrian President Hafez Assad while in Rabat, to discuss peace in the Middle East, but Assad opted to stay in Damascus.
However, Ehud Barak had a brief exchange with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria.
Barak told Bouteflika of his determination to find peace for the region, to which Bouteflika replied, “If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.”
5- Hassan II was a father for Moroccans
Upon Hassan II’s death after ruling Morocco for 38 years, many Moroccans felt that they had lost a father. His funeral was an emotional affair for Moroccans, who held him in high regard.
It was reported that over one million Moroccans walked dusty roads from distant villages to find prime spots along the three kilometer route of the funeral procession.
More than two million citizens were carrying pictures of the dead monarch –weeping, chanting and praying for him, while some fainted and were taken by ambulance.
Omar Saghi, a political scientist said in a previous interview that the majority of young adults “grew up in the last years of his reign. Hassan II primarily represents their childhood and adolescence.”
Psychologist Assia Akesbi said that Moroccans were fascinated with their King’s charisma and showmanship.
She went on to add that he loved making speeches and holding press conferences. “Today, the Internet is full of videos of Hassan II. Most of them depict a King at the peak of his power, mastering interviews and confident in his speeches.”
“Internet users who leave comments are generally touched by his authority, which they seem to miss,” she explained.
“I remember a spontaneous response made by a young 36-year-old woman when asked why she missed Hassan II. The young woman replied, ‘I love him. He was the one that suited our Morocco.’ She also recalled foreign interviews when Hassan II had shown his ability to give quick comebacks. She knew by heart and quoted some famous responses of the deceased King,” Assia Akesbi concluded.
Edited by Karla Dieseldorff
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