Tombstone of Jewish Interpreter for the
Consulate of France in Mazagan (El Jadida)

Pupils assembled in the yard of the Alliance School for Boys in Tangier, 1931.

Paris, Alliance Israelite Universelle

  The Moroccan Protectorate

The Treaty of Fez was signed on March 30, 1912. On April 17, the Sultan's troops in Fez revolted, but they were unable to enter the European quarter, which was protected by French troops. Instead, the soldiers and a crowd following them pillaged the mellah, from which the French had previously confiscated all weapons. In order to force the rioters away from the mellah, French soldiers fired missiles and bombs, destroying houses and causing fires. As a result, Jews abandoned the mellah, which was pillaged the next day by villagers. During the three days of violence, 51 Jews were killed and 72 were wounded. French troops had a similar number of casualties, while almost 1,000 Muslims were killed or wounded. A third of the mellah was destroyed, and 12,000 Jews found themselves homeless.

In their efforts to rule Morocco, the French used Jews as intermediaries with the Muslims and created divisions between the Muslim and Jewish communities. A Frenchified elite arose among the Jews, although they were never fully accepted as equals with the French. While many of the legal restrictions against the Jews were eased, French colonists received preferential legal treatment. As a result, Jews in certain occupations were displaced by the French. In response to decreasing economic opportunities, emigration from the rural areas to the urban mellahs increased.

In August 1941, the Vichy Government of France enacted laws that discriminated against Moroccan Jews. It set quotas on the number of Jewish doctors and lawyers, ejected students from French schools and forced many Jews living in the European quarters to move to the mellahs.

The Moroccan Sultan, Mohammed V, told Jewish leaders that in his opinion Vichy laws singling out the Jews were inconsistent with Moroccan law. He believed that Jews should be treated equally with Muslims. He emphasized that the property and lives of the Jews remained under his protection. Due to his strong stance, Vichy administrators did not implement the discriminatory laws and regulations energetically.

Following the arrival of American troops in November 1942, the French closed off several mellahs. Despite pressure from the World Jewish community, it was several months before the Vichy laws were repealed.                           
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