Khattabi Al-, Abdelkarim

   His full name is Mohammed Ibn Abdelkarim al-Khattabi. He was a Moroccan Berber leader and founder of the short-lived "Republic of the Rif" from 1922 to 1926. He was born in the village of Ajdir west of Melilla on the slopes of the Rif Mountains. From 1921 to 1926, he crushed the Spanish forces in the Rif and destabilized French colonial rule throughout the rest of Morocco. His struggle against colonialism found a loud echo not only in the Arab Muslim East and the Americas but also in Europe, where anticolonial groups carried on an active campaign in his favor. It took the combination of French and Spanish military operations to put an end to his revolt in the North, and he surrendered to the French in 1926. He was deported with his family to Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean. There he set up a Berber village with its qasaba and during 21 years of his exile lived the life of a Berber chief, observing, however, the political development in the Arab world and changes in the international community.
   In the Rif, he is remembered as the great popular hero shrouded in the glory of his exploits and falling only to the overwhelming number and sophisticated weaponry of his enemies. From his humble village of Ajdir, his fame fanned out throughout Morocco, and he is considered the precursor of the struggle for Moroccan independence. In 1947, when the French decided Abdelkarim's transfer to France and during a stop at Port Said, he left the ship and was granted asylum by the Egyptian government and took refuge in Cairo, then the most active center of North African nationalism. There he was the president of the Maghrib Bureau, a section of the Liberation Committee of the Arab West, but, dissatisfied with discord in its workings, he resigned five years later. He died at the age of 81 on 6 February 1963 and was buried with full honors in Cairo.
   See also `Assou Ou Baslam; Moha Ou Hammou Zayani; Rif Revolt.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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