Moroccan youth are looking back to their history for guidance on how to achieve a better future.
Social media is like the Agora of ancient Greece, a space – though virtual – where anyone interested shares and discusses diverse ideas freely. This creates an atmosphere where like-minded people of all walks of life can stand on equal footing and express opinions about matters they consider relevant to their own lives.
It was in such an atmosphere that the idea for a movement emerged, aiming to re-acquaint the Moroccan people, especially youth, with their national identity, history, and traditions. It also came to instill in them a new sense of pride to motivate them to be more productive, more creative, and to serve their country in any capacity. The name the originators chose is the Moroccan Moorish Movement.
Tough beginnings and a solid foundation
The exact origins of the movement are difficult to pinpoint, but it is possible to trace back forms of it over the past few years. It began featuring in private Facebook groups and blogs focused on the unique Moroccan culture and its continuity throughout the ages. These early efforts aimed at exploring Moroccan origins in light of empirical and scientific disciplines such as anthropology, archeology, and genetics, in addition to history, linguistics, mythology, etc.
These early attempts remained confined to small groups and resurged every now and again, without any exact defining shape. In time, the various currents converged on one point, and coalesced into one stream with Morocco’s best interest in mind.
In mid-2019, an image of the movement began to materialize with the new purpose of reaching a wider audience. The Moroccan Moorish Movement started to gain traction on Facebook pages. It published news about Morocco’s progress, current and future development projects, diplomatic events, and political developments, sometimes in Darija (Moroccan Arabic).
The effort aimed to spread a positive outlook to dispel the skepticism prevalent among some Moroccans concerning these matters, and spur a reaction from the average citizen in regard to the situation of their country.
By the time a large enough audience became interested in such content, pages such as Al-Mohaid, meaning “neutral,” and Moorish History gradually diverted portions of their efforts towards a wider scope of publications. These efforts included posts on well-known Moroccan historical figures and their achievements, historical events and their significance, and discoveries pertaining to Morocco.
Soon enough, the words “Moor” and “Moorish” regained their meaning in the mind of many Moroccans. They became indicators of the Moroccan national identity and its continuity throughout a period of time spanning not centuries, but millennia.
What is the Moroccan Moorish Movement?
Simply put, the Moroccan Moorish Movement manifests the desires of Moroccans who are full of energy, who took to the internet to spread the same vigor among their compatriots.
The appellation “Moorish” derives from the name of the ancient North African Amazigh (Berber) kingdom of Mauretania, which existed from around the third century B.C. until A.D. 44. Historians have attested to it as the first unified and independent kingdom in the modern region of Morocco.
The peoples of the Mediterranean basin knew the inhabitants of the area as Mauri. The name’s etymology traces back as far as 900 B.C., when Phoenician explorers called the land Mauharim, meaning “Western Land.” They considered it to be the westernmost edge of the world, beyond which lay the “Dark Sea,” the ancient name for the Atlantic Ocean.
The Muslim inhabitants of al-Andalus during the Middle Ages, the descendants of the Moroccan Amazigh conquerors who first brought Islam to the Iberian Peninsula, were known as Moors. Later on the name came to include all Muslims of the Mediterranean basin, regardless of ethnicity. Despite this generalization, the name has always preserved an internalized element of the Moroccan identity, since Iberia was an integral part of the historical Moroccan Empire during most of its Islamic era.
Although the term periodically features in controversy, the continuity and inclusiveness that the movement sees in the word “Moor” played a crucial role in its selection in the movement’s name. It represents the movement’s values of pride and unity among the diverse components of the Moroccan society. It places an emphasis on the unique aspect of the Moroccan identity within the wider North African and Muslim context to which it belongs.
Read also: Expulsion of Moors From Spain: Why Spaniards and Moroccans Will Never Be the Same (Part II)
Aims and aspirations of the Moroccan Moorish Movement
A tree with deep roots is most resilient, able to withstand all winds. Morocco is a country with a long and rich history whose men and women evoke images to outside observers of achievement, pride, moral values, and tenacity in the face of hardship.
The Moroccan Moorish Movement hopes to see youth, first and foremost, follow in the tracks of their ancestors. The movement aims to inspire them to actively uphold the values that have made Morocco the respectable and culturally rich country it is today.
Yet Morocco today is not a country without its issues. The challenges of a modern globalist world and the bumps the country has faced over the last century resulted in unfortunate social and cultural consequences. This has engendered a sense of passiveness, and even defeatism, in the collective psyche of Moroccan youth.
Although Morocco’s young people have the potential to achieve wonders if given the chance – and examples of this are widespread – there is a hidden well of yet untapped energy waiting to be discovered.
The Moroccan Moorish Movement hopes to drive its reemergence. First, it aims to correct misconceptions many Moroccans have about their country through spreading knowledge and inciting youth to actively participate in the endeavor. Everybody is capable of offering something, no matter how small, to make Morocco a better country for all its citizens, they stress.
The movement is working towards this by publishing posts to educate the general public, sometimes in layman’s terms, some others in a specialized language, about a variety of topics, from history, literature, and oral folklore to economics and politics. They also encourage use of symbols related to the Moroccan identity, such as the Marinid octagram. Anyone who has something to contribute is welcome to do so.
Most of these posts meet with a high degree of interest by people of all ages from a wide range of social, economic, and educational backgrounds. Comments on the posts show that a number of these people are learning some of the facts about Morocco for the very first time, which demonstrates that the movement is beginning to see the fruits of its efforts.
Where is the Moroccan Moorish Movement, and where to next?
The movement published a declaration on Facebook on February 10, 2020 defining itself, in both Arabic and Amazigh, the two official languages of Morocco: “The Moroccan Moorish Movement is a free and spontaneous initiative engaged in the reinforcement of the Moroccan culture, history and identity within the spirit of the Moroccan youth.
“Morocco is a nation that possesses a unique civilization, clearly distinct in its tongues, history, and cultural products. This movement concerns all Moroccans exclusively and without exception.”
With this definition, the Moroccan Moorish Movement emerged with a clear ideal and set goals: Reconciliation between the Moroccan youth and their unique identity, and the preservation of Moroccan historical heritage and cultural traditions from decay and decline.
The movement does not claim affiliation or association with any existing political current in Morocco. It remains independent in its own style of communication and means of reaching its audience. It also accentuates the objective aspect of all its dealings with topics related to the history, demographics, and politics of Morocco, as it strives to employ reliable sources and adopt reasonable and logical approaches in presenting facts to the public.
At the moment, the Moroccan Moorish Movement remains confined to the realm of social media. However, in the future, it hopes to gain enough impetus to expand further, transcend virtual platforms, and become of greater service to the Moroccan society.
Like all nascent initiatives, there is still much room for improvement within the Moroccan Moorish Movement. Decentralized and in need of a more structured framework, as well as more outlets to broadcast its content to an even wider public and employ its full potential, it has much room to grow.