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French protectorate


Hassan II was king of Morocco from 1961 to 1999
Hassan II

In March 1912 the sultan of Morocco recognized the protectorate. Later that year the French, under a revision of the 1904 convention with Spain, obtained a larger share of Moroccan territory. The Spanish experienced greater difficulties in Spanish Morocco. Abd el-Krim, a leader of Berber tribes, organized a revolt against Spanish rule in 1921. By 1924 he had driven the Spanish forces from most of their Moroccan territory. He then turned upon the French. France and Spain agreed in 1925 to cooperate against Abd el-Krim. More than 200,000 troops under French marshal Henri Philippe Pétain were used in the campaign, which suppressed the revolt in 1926. Rebels in parts of the Atlas Mountains were not fully subdued until the end of 1934, however.

Under the French regime, the whole country was finally brought under control by the central government. A system of roads, railroads, and ports, needed for economic development, was created, and a growing industrial city was built at Casablanca. An educated elite was formed from students who attended modern schools and were introduced to ideas of the 20th century. This generation of educated Moroccans set out to recover the country’s independence. During World War II, France’s collaborationist Vichy government allowed Morocco to support the German war effort following Germany’s defeat of France in 1940. In 1942, British and American troops landed and occupied Morocco, giving impetus to the independence movement. In 1944, Moroccan nationalists formed the Istiqlal party, which soon won the support of Sultan Mohammed V and the majority of Arabs. It was opposed by most of the Berber tribes, however. The French rejected the plea by the sultan in 1950 for self-government. The sultan was deposed in 1953 by pro-French reactionary notables, organized with the encouragement of French authorities, and exiled to Madagascar. But in 1955 the French permitted him to return to his throne.

Independence and Unification of Morocco


Morroco independence
Morroco independence

France recognized Moroccan independence in March 1956. In April the Spanish government recognized in principle the independence of Spanish Morocco and the unity of the sultanate, although it retained certain cities and territories. Tangier was incorporated into Morocco in October 1956. Ifni, in the southwest, was returned to Morocco in 1969. Sultan Mohammed V assumed the title of king in 1957. After French authority was removed, the sultan as king became an absolute ruler over a country with no constitutional institutions of any kind. This situation increased the difficulty of moving toward a parliamentary form of government, which the nationalist movement desired. The first three governments after independence were formed to a large extent on party lines, although the king retained control of the army, the police force, and the central administration.

In forming the fourth government in 1960, the king abandoned the attempt to respect party claims. Ministers were selected instead for their “loyalty, integrity, and ability,” and King Mohammed V himself became premier, naming his son as his day-to-day deputy.

At Mohammed’s death in 1961, the throne passed to his son Hassan II. A royal charter was implemented by Hassan, whereby a constitutional monarchy was established on the approval by referendum of a constitution in December 1962. The nation’s first general elections were held in 1963, and the first parliamentary government was formed afterward. Parliamentary government proved short-lived, however, and was dominated by interparty bickering that impeded legislative action. In 1965, after serious rioting in Casablanca, the king proclaimed a state of emergency. He dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution, and assumed full executive and legislative power, serving as his own prime minister for two years.

Mohammed VI kin of Morocco
Mohammed VI kin of Morocco

Because the state was held together largely by religious fidelity to the king, who was both a temporal and spiritual leader, the politicians and populace accepted royal interference in politics and administration. Hassan gave strong support to the Arab cause in the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel and made subsequent attempts to secure Arab unity. In 1970, ending the state of emergency, the king introduced a new constitution strengthening royal power and establishing a unicameral parliament. It was approved in a referendum, despite the opposition of the Istiqlal and its offshoot, the USFP (Socialist Union of Popular Forces). Following an attempt, in 1971, by a section of the army to overthrow the monarchy, the king tried to conciliate the opposition. In 1972 he won approval for a new constitution that curtailed his power and increased parliament’s. However, because the Istiqlal and USFP rejected the constitution and its reforms as inadequate, the king suspended parliament and postponed elections indefinitely. In 1973 he issued laws that took over all foreign-owned land and forced most foreign-owned firms to sell Morocco shares in their holdings.

A New King : Mohammed VI


Hassan II died in July 1999 and was succeeded by his son Mohammed VI. The new king promised to continue the reforms begun by his father. Under Mohammed’s leadership, the government pushed through reforms in family law—granting more rights to women—and liberalized economic policies in the hope of attracting more investment from abroad. In 2000 the king started a campaign for Morocco to join the European Union (EU), but the plan met with little EU enthusiasm. Terrorist bomb attacks in Casablanca in 2003 led the government to enact new antiterrorism legislation. An Equity and Reconciliation Commission was established in 2004 to investigate human rights abuses from 1956 to 1999, during the reign of Mohammed’s father. The final report, delivered in 2006, recommended payments for individuals who were tortured and for families of people who disappeared.

Parliamentary elections for the 325-seat Chamber of Representatives were held in September 2007. A total of 23 parties and 5 independents won seats in the new parliament. Taking the largest share of seats were the secular conservative Istiqlal (Independence) Party, followed by the moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD). A record-low voter turnout of 37 percent and accusations by the PJD that secular parties had bought votes marred the election results. The victory of Istiqlal ensured that Morocco, an important U.S. ally in the Muslim world, would continue to maintain strong ties with the West. "Morocco" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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