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The Rif (in Tarifit : Irifiyen , also known as Riyefa or Ruafa ) are a Berber- speaking people in northwestern Africa , who got their name from the Rif Atlas on the northern edge of Morocco. The language of the Rif is Tarifit. They are predominantly Marabout Sunni Muslims , but retain pre-Islamic traditions such as the high status of Reef women. She is associated with the Kabyle in Algeria because she belongs to the Berber language community .

The population is estimated at 6 to 7 million people, which is 17 to 20% of the Moroccan population. Cities with a high proportion of the population are Nador and Al-Hoceima . Numerous reef cabyls have migrated to Arabic-speaking cities, so that they can be found all over Morocco today. Strong communities outside the area of ​​origin can be found in Tangier , Tétouan and the Spanish exclave of Melilla . Outside of Morocco, Rif have settled mainly in Spain and the Netherlands, and to a lesser extent in Germany, Belgium and France.

Well-known personalities are Abd al-Karim , Ahmed ben Mohammed el-Raisuli , Mohammed Ameziane , Ibrahim Afellay , Nasser Zefzafi , the German Vice Olympic Champion Faissal Ebnoutalib and the Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb .


In a guerrilla war , the Rif under the leadership of the Emir Abd al-Karim rose repeatedly against the Spanish and French colonial powers in Morocco between 1921 and 1926 . The background to the uprising was the lack of will of the French colonial power to treat the Africans (the same applied to the Asians in the Far East ) as vaste main d'œuvre (unlimited reservoir of workers) with equal social status . Despite the protectorate treaty concluded in 1912, which granted the Moroccan sultan areas of power, the general residences of the French and Spanish ruled in all regions of their sphere of influence without restriction.

When the Rif advanced into French Morocco , they were pushed back by French troops. In 1921 the Rif from the Atlas Mountains under Abd el-Krim were able to destroy the Spanish troops in the Battle of Annual . Despite a ban under international law, the war was fought by the Spanish troops with chemical weapons in return . In just two years, 10,000 bombs containing over 500 tons of mustard gas were dropped.

In the Spanish Civil War around 40,000 Rif served under General Franco , who was translating from what was then Spanish Morocco to mainland Spain.

In the movie

An incident from the First Morocco Crisis , the kidnapping of Ion Perdicaris by Ahmed ben Mohammed el-Raisuli , was published with some literary freedom - in the film the victim was a woman named Eden Perdicaris - in 1975 by John Milius with Sean Connery and Brian Keith under the title The Wind and the Lion filmed.


  • Rolf-Dieter Müller , Rudibert Kunz: Poison gas against Abd el Krim. Germany, Spain and the gas war in Spanish Morocco 1922–1927 (=  individual publications on military history . Volume 34 ). Rombach, Freiburg im Breisgau 1990, ISBN 3-7930-0196-2 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b James B. Minahan: Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations. Ethnic and National Groups around the World . 2nd Edition: Ethnic and National Groups around the World Edition. ABC-CLIO, 2016, ISBN 978-1-61069-954-9 (English, limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed March 7, 2019]).
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World ( English ) James B. Minahan. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  3. see en: Mohammed Ameziane
  4. Udo Scholze, Detlev Zimmermann, Günther Fuchs: Under lily banner and tricolor. On the history of the French colonial empire . ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  5. Dirk Sasse: French, British and Germans in the Rif War 1921–1926 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-486-57983-5 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  6. Hein de Haas: Morocco: From Emigration Country to Africa's Migration Passage to Europe , October 2005; In: MigrationPolicy.org
  7. Jon Blackwell: 1904: 'Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead!' In: The Trentonian .
  8. ↑ Collection of materials on the Perdicaris Affair at the Library of Congress (english), accessed July 22, 2021