Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
16. Home of Sephardi middlemen* Léo-Paul Dana and Teresa E. Dana INTRODUCTION The Kingdom of Morocco, Maghreb el Aqsa (literally: land farthest west) covers the western extreme of North Africa, separated from Spain by the Strait of Gibraltar. A rich history has made Morocco fairly heterogeneous. The Indigenous people here are Berbers. Shor and Shor (1955, p. 188) wrote, ‘Some tribesmen in the High Atlas accept Islam but not Koranic law’. Hunt explained, They have occupied the rugged mountains since before the Muslim Arabs swept in from the east in the 8th century. The Berbers adopted Islam as they had previously taken to Christianity, but it was not a total embrace. Their religion combines Islamic and older tribal beliefs. (Hunt, 1980, p. 119) Racially, the Berbers have mixed with other groups, and the distinguishing feature of the Berbers is language. Their language has three dialects: Tamazight, Tarifit, and Tashlhiyt. As explained by Tayler (2005, p. 79), ‘Though dominated by Arabs for centuries, Berbers make up a majority in Morocco’. Authorities have claimed that Berbers are ‘disturbing national unity’ (Crawford, 2002, p. 62). Venema and Mguild wrote, Arabs also regularly use stereotypes. With reference to the Middle Atlas Berbers, one informant said: ‘they live as savages in tents near caves and forests’. They are nomads who use boots and plastic for clothing. They don’t speak or read Arabic . . . (Venema and Mguild, 2003, p. 35) Crawford (2002, p. 53) asserted, ‘Morocco’s Imazighen (Berbers) are often ignored in current academic literature’. This...
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