The Latif prayer’s call for unity and brotherhood between Arab and Berber is particularly revelatory of the attitudes of the early nationalist movement. By referring to “our brothers, the Berbers,” the movement’s leaders make clear that they consider themselves and those praying with them to be Arab. This is illustrative of a driving thread that wove throughout the rise of Morocco’s nationalist movement – an assumption of and preference for Arab ethnicity and language that contributed to an ongoing elision of Berber identity. From the movement’s birth under the French Protectorate to its ascent to political power after independence, Arab-centrism became the justification for marginalizing Morocco’s substantial Berber population. This paper demonstrates how Berber actors worked against French imperialism without adopting the Arab-centric narrative of the mainstream nationalist movement. For instance, students, alumni, and staff of the Collège Berbère d’Azrou joined widespread nationalist protest during World War II on their own terms. I argue that Berber-speakers were active in the earliest moments of Morocco’s nationalist movement, and from the beginning pushed back against attempts to center Arabness at the expense of Amazighité.
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