Essay: Moroccan Subcultures

Subculture is generally characterized by the specific religious, political and traditional features. One country or even region can number a lot of subcultures, which started their development on this territory because of the geographical position, historical and political peculiarities. Morocco is a great example of coexistence of different subcultures on the territory of one country. Moroccan culture contains Jewish, Arab, Berber, African and European subcultures.

Such blend of culture couldn’t appear in one day, it had been forming through centuries and this process is still going on. A lot of scientists try to compare Moroccan culture with the cultures of Africa and countries of Middle East, it goes without saying that there are common features but no one can deny the uniqueness and unlikeness of the Moroccan cultures and so its subcultures. Traditions are so different that sometimes it’s difficult to imagine how one country can combine all of them. To understand it we should analyze historical development of the country and its components.

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The developing nature of the subcultures of Morocco can’t stay without our attention as it influences the modern tendencies of the development of the country. For example, the growth of the European influence explains the behavior of the younger generation and deviation from strict religious norms of the older generation.

Most part of the population of Morocco is represented by Arabs and Berbers. Berbers are native citizens and so they represent traditional way of life in Morocco, speak their native Berber language and form a specific subculture. Arabs invaded the country in the 7th and 11th centuries and from this time a new period in the history of Morocco started. Arabs formed another specific subculture in Morocco. Jews constitute 7,000 and foreign population is represented by French and Spanish and numbers approximately 100,000.

The first mentions of the first inhabitants of modern Morocco refers to the end of the second millennium B.C. These people were pagans. With the Roman invasion started a new era in religion as in the third century A.D. four bishops were created on this territory. Jewish settlements also appeared during the Roman times. Judaism as the religion of Jews started its existence on the territory of Morocco. Then in the year of 685 Islam was firstly brought by Arabs who invaded the country. Three absolutely different religions couldn’t peacefully exist side by side and conflicts on the religious background appear the country even nowadays.

So, the subcultures represented in Morocco form three religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism, which have their own peculiarities. Islam is the strictest and the cruelest religion as it urges to kill “the unfaithful”. They claim that Allah is the only God and Mohammed is his only Prophet. The existence of other religions is impossible by Islamists’ opinion, so Arabs are not very tolerant to Christians and other religions. Jews are Judaists also don’t accept other religions but they are more tolerant. They think their nation is chosen by God and must spread their religion among other people. Christianity is the most tolerant religion that helps all paupers and unfortunate people. Each religion characterizes a specific subculture and influences political views, customs, traditions and even language of every nationality.

The history of Morocco is the history of numerous invasions. The territory of the country was divided between Spain, Great Britain, Germany, France and many other countries. These European countries influenced all spheres of life of modern Morocco and formed a specific subculture – European. This subculture is “guided” by the main European principles and is moving in the “eastern” direction. A lot of European traditions and norms of behavior are borrowed by Moroccan Europeans. Their views on life are the most liberal and democratic among other people in this country.

Europeans have always been invaders in Morocco, so they never met any resistance on their way to spread their religion, traditions and language. The situation is different with Jews who inhabit now Casablanca, Fez and some other cities. They have been immigrating to Israel during last 60 years as they were attacked by different riots during this time. In 1948 about 265,000 Jews lived in Morocco, nowadays it’s about 7,000. The results of immigration are incredible and mean that Jews have practically disappeared in Morocco.

The one more reason of it is Arab-Israeli wars that certainly couldn’t let Moroccan population indifferent. Contradictions between Arabs and Jews in Morocco just strained relations between them and caused new phase of immigration. This subculture is characterized by the great influence of religion on the political views, customs and traditions. It helped Jews to save their national originality during centuries even without their own state. Despite small number of Jews in Morocco, they continue to play an important role. The King is still a Jewish senior adviser and Jewish schools are granted by the government.

Arabic world creates its own subculture. “Arab” Fez is the cultural and religious center of Arabs. Sunni Muslims as Arabs are usually called in Morocco form the most part of the population of the country and so they spread their own Arabic culture. The influence of the Berber and African cultures in Morocco can’t be left without attention as their cultures are unique and they supplement the whole picture of cultures of this region.

The subcultures of Morocco have been formed during its history that was full of different events. Firstly Morocco got its independence in 788 but as it was inhabited by numerous nationalities soon, just after 900 it split into small tribal states. Then Morocco used to be a kingdom under the reign of Spain. From the 17th to the 19th century it was attacked by pirates of the Mediterranean Sea. This small country was also divided between European countries in the 19th century, as its strategic and economical importance became evident for Europe. In 1911 Morocco was divided into four zones: the international zone of Tangier, the Southern protectorate as a part of Spanish Sahara, French Morocco and Spanish Protectorate. Soon the resident population excited rebellion and the war for Independence started. The Southern Protectorate was ended in 1958.

The modern existence of different subcultures is connected with its historical development, geographical position and ethnic peculiarities. All these subcultures are unique in their religious, political and cultural manifestations.

R. Le Tourneau, The Modern History of Morocco (1973)
W. Spencer, Historical Dictionary of Morocco (1980)
E. DeAmicis, Morocco (1984)
A. M. Findlay et al., ed., Morocco (1984)
D. Porch, The Conquest of Morocco (1986)

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One Comment

  • Janet Mahzi

    Well, I was hoping to gain something from this essay, but the minute I got to the part about Islam being the most cruel of the religions in Morocco and that they are told to “kill the unfaithful” I knew this was going nowhere quickly. The person who wrote this has obviously not been to Morocco. Furthermore, they do not understand Sunni Islam. Christianity is not the most tolerant of religions, by far. Please rid yourself of your personal opinions when writing and seek out scholarly articles in which to base your information on.

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