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MOROCCO: Raisuli, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abd El Krim



"We sent the Navy after Sherif Ahmed er Raisuli, a Moroccan known as the last of the Barbary pirates". Paul Simon sends this comment: "Pedricardis alive or Rasuli dead!" was the slogan when Theodore Roosevelt went after the Barbary bandit. A fanciful feature film was made on the subject, "The Wind and the Lion". Brian Keith plays TR and somehow Pericardis was transformed from a middle-aged businessman to a beautiful woman..."

Some background: Rasuli was the bandit chief of the Rif mountain area, which he ruled from Tétouan.(As a Hispanist, I prefer the Spanish "Tetuán" but US usage prefers the French form). It is a short distance to the port of Tangier on the Atlantic. There Rasuli abducted businessman Ion Perdecaris (who the US thought to be a naturalized US citizen) and held him for a US $70,000 ransom. When TR threatened to send the Marines, the hapless Moroccan government paid the ransom. That should have made Rasuli a hero like Pancho Villa, but the Melilla qadi Abd El Krim. who was both a scholar and a military leader, took to the Rif mountains, defeated the Spanish army at Anual, established the Rif Republic and crushed Rasuli (what happened to him?). However, a French army led by Henri Petain seized him and sent him into exile on the island of La Réunion. Spain remained in control of Spanish Morocco, and it was from there that Franco launched his invasion of Spain in 1936 with Moorish troops.

Questions: Can Miles Seeley tell us if the feature film was shown in Morocco? If so, what was the reaction to it? What do Moroccans (and Filipinos) think of TR? Americans rate him highly, but he is hated in Latin America. What do Moroccans think of Rasuli and Abd El Krim? What do Moroccans think of Franco and the role of Moorish troops in the Spanish Civil War?

Ronald Hilton - 1/21/02


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