In 2011, during the 20 February Movement protests in Tetouan, the former capital of the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco, the “dimension” of the North emerged once again as a specificity of the movement in the city. The so-called “northern question”, in fact, is one of the most important legacies of the double Franco-Spanish colonial rule in Morocco: the economic, political, and social marginalization of the former Spanish Morocco, and its nationalist elite, in independent Morocco. Despite the centrality, during the colonial period, of Tetouan and its nationalist elite, bound to the Spanish colonial power by an intermediary relationship that had no parallel in the French Protectorate, Morocco’s accession to independence dramatically revealed the existence of two administratively and politically separate and autonomous states. The Spanish zone of influence, or Spanish Protectorate in Morocco, was characterized by several specificities linked to the different colonial rule, first and foremost the fact that the European vernacular language was, and still is, Spanish and not French. However, these specificities were soon flattened to the French model, precisely because the reconfiguration of power within Morocco made the French-speaking nationalist elite emerge as dominant in the post-independence political field. The question of the north, therefore, cannot be referred only and exclusively to the Rif region. Precisely the analysis of the post-colonial era in Tetouan, and of the political and social trajectories of its nationalist elite, reveals a dynamic of political marginalization similar to that experienced by the Rif but which is declined in different demands and political projects, which also involve the ancient Tetouani nationalist elite.
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