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TIZNIT - MOROCCO

South of the Souss Valley and beyond the western end of the Anti Atlas, Tiznit is an old walled medina town surrounded by modern development. It was originally the site of a cluster of kasbahs, which were encircled in the 19th century by some 5km of pisé wall. It quickly became a trade centre and remains the provincial capital, a central point between the coastal towns and the Anti Atlas. Good for a visit, but Tiznit is most often seen on your way through or on a day-trip from Mirleft or one of the other coastal towns.

History

In 1881 Sultan Moulay Al-Hassan (1873– 94) chose Tiznit as a base from which to assert his authority over the rebellious Berber tribes of the south. To do this, he built the town’s perimeter walls. Jewish silversmiths were moved into the town and gave it a reputation as a centre for silver. However, Tiznit remained embroiled in local sedition. In 1912, it was a base for resistance to the 1912 treaty that turned Morocco into a French and Spanish protectorate. This resistance movement was led by El-Hiba, the so-called ‘Blue Sultan’ from the Western Sahara, who earned his nickname for always wearing his Saharawi veil.

Following Sultan Moulay Hafid’s capitulation to the French at the Treaty of Fés, El- Hiba proclaimed himself sultan at Tiznit’s mosque in 1912. The southern tribes rose to support him and El-Hiba marched north at the head of an army of men from the Tuareg and Anti Atlas tribes. They were welcomed as liberators in Marrakesh but much of the army was slaughtered by the French as it moved towards Fez. El-Hiba retreated to Taroudannt, then Tiznit, then up into the Anti Atlas, where he pursued a campaign of resistance against the French until his death in 1919.

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