Amazigh, Arabs and Jews

Amazigh, Arabs and Jews are the peoples that together have built Morocco. The Amazigh people are believed to have migrated to Morocco from the Middle East over 3,500 years ago. Prior to the Arab conquest in the eighth century, several Amazigh tribes converted to Judaism. Once Arabs populated Moroccan cities, Jews played an important role in commerce between them and the Imazighen.  Jewish traders were rarely harmed, and even in times of instability, they were able to use their special relationships with Amazigh leaders to travel safely.

The Arabs came to Morocco from the Middle East to extend both their power and their religion over the land. While some Jewish Amazigh tribes converted, many Jews refused to give up their religion. Over time, the majority of Jews moved from rural areas to Arab-controlled towns and cities, where they fell under the protection of the Sultans. As Sultans tried to extend their power over rural Amazigh tribes, occasionally the tribes would attack the cities, using Jews as scapegoats for their problems. In general, however, Arabs and Jews developed mutually-supportive roles within urban society, although they lived clearly in separate cultural worlds.