Moriscos keep their traditions alive in Morocco

The Moriscos who fled Spain for Morocco mostly came with nothing, but they have left their mark on the north African country.
Today, their cultural influence is palpable in the food, music and architecture of various Moroccan cities.

Centuries ago, when the Moriscos fled Spain for Morocco, they mostly came without their possessions, but they managed to enrich and influence the Moroccan culture in many ways.
The Moriscos, former Muslim inhabitants of southern Spain who converted to Christianity after the Spanish conquest, had to leave in the early 1600s when a Spanish decree ordered their expulsion.
Those who showed resistance could face deportation or even be killed, the decree said.
When they reached the north African country, they were quickly accepted despite the Moriscos' more modern approach to Islam.
"They lived in peace with the Moroccans and their Islamic way of life," says Mohamed Meghraoui, a Morisco man living in Rabat.
Many of their descendants continue to self-identify as Moriscos even though 400 years have passed since their expulsion.
Meghraoui says his ancestors came to Morocco after they refused to convert to Christianity.
They were asked to leave the Andalusian lands without taking their possessions, Meghraoui says.
He does not have too many details about his family's exact history but what little he knows, he passed down to his son.
When the Meghraoui family first settled down in Rabat, they started working in commerce.
The family still maintains many Andalusian traditions and habits today.
"The Andalusian migrations have had a very strong influence on Moroccan cities, culture, architecture, dress, cooking and Moroccan music," says historian Mohamed Es-Semmar, a Morisco descendant himself.
In Rabat, many Moriscos initially settled down at houses in the Andalusian Kasbah, or citadel, and the old medina.
Over the years, many of them moved away and left their old houses to lie in decay.
"The Moriscos did not keep their original houses and their quarters and preferred to live in villas and apartments," says Es-Semmar.
Many of the Morisco families have either disappeared or changed their names.
"Despite the fact that we have lost a lot of this heritage, we can still save the remainder," the historian says.
Es-Semmar says current generations of Moriscos should be encouraged to stay in the old city to preserve the heritage and traditions of the community.

Find out more about AP Archive:

You can license this story through AP Archive:
morocco, tradition
Be the first to comment