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History : The 2nd of March 1956, Morocco’s forgotten independence day

The 2nd of March 1956 was officially the day when Morocco was able to gain independence from the French protectorate. During the reign of Mohammed V, the Independence Day was celebrated on that date but when Hassan II ascended the throne this has changed.

King Mohammed V during the Allegiance Day in Rabat./Ph. DR
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March the 2nd, 1956 is a date almost forgotten in Morocco, yet it officially commemorates the day Morocco gained its independence. On that day, the page of the French protectorate was officially turned by putting an end to the Fes treaty concluded on the 30th of March, 1912. An event that was the fruit of a week-long negotiation between King Mohammed V and the French President Guy Mollet. Under the reign of the late monarch, Moroccans used to celebrate the Independence Day on March the 2nd.

It was only with the accession of Hassan II to the throne on March the 3rd, 1961, that a change occurred. Textbooks, media, the administration and the majority of political parties have all contributed to anchoring this change, rendering homage to the generations that have contributed to this victory.

Honoring the past generations

November the 18th was then the chosen date to celebrate the independence of Morocco, it is also an important day in the Kingdom’s history. Two days after his return from exile, on November 16, 1955, first in Corsica and then in Madagascar, the Sultan delivered a memorable speech to the nation. In front of a jubilant crowd, he said he was fully determined to recover all the regions still under the French, Spanish and international control (Tangier, ed). From 1927 to 1961, Moroccans commemorated the accession of Mohammed V's throne every November 18.    

For decades, March the 2nd has entered a long-imposed hibernation. It was only with the wave of the «Arab Spring» in 2011 that was approaching the Moroccan coast that the date came out of its lethargy. In the aftermath of the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia on January the 14th, 2011, Moroccan netizens from the left had proposed to organize a march on March the 2nd asking for democracy and social justice. A way for them to honor the forgotten date. The attempt was inconclusive and the oblivion still goes on. 

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