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King of Morocco, 1957-1961
Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef was born in Fez, Morocco, on August 10, 1909, the third son of Sultan Mawlay Youssef. When his father died in 1927, France chose him to be his successor, expecting him to be much easier to "handle" than his older brothers.
In 1934 Sultan Mohammed urged the French to repeal the Berber Dahir legislation of 1930 that had established separate legal systems for Berbers and Arabs. About that same time, Moroccan nationalists organized an annual festival to commemorate the anniversary of Mohammed's assumption of power. The French agreed to make the festival an annual holiday, and for the next decade the Sultan was a "behind the scenes" supporter of the nationalist movement.
In 1947 Mohammed visited Tangier and made a speech stressing Moroccan links with the Arab world, without mentioning France at all. Although he carefully avoided open rebellion against the French, he supported the nationalist cause by refusing to sign, and thus make legally binding, the decrees of the French resident general. In 1951 the French encouraged a tribal rebellion against him, and, on the pretext of protecting him, they surrounded his palace with troops. In 1953 he was deported, first to Corsica and then to Madagascar. The deportation inflamed the nationalists, who began a campaign of terrorism against the French. Mohammed was allowed to return to Morocco in November 1955, and in March 1956 he negotiated a treaty securing full independence.
Sultan Mohammed took the title King Mohammed V in 1957. He died in Rabat on February 26, 1961, and was succeeded by his son, Hassan II.
This page was last updated on February 10, 2017.