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Comité d'Action Marocaine (CAM)


the first moroccan nationalist party, established in 1933 and 1934, also known as the bloc d'action national, or simply kutla (bloc).

The Comité d'Action Marocaine (CAM) was the largest of three organizations created during the early 1930s by young urban nationalists to advance their aims; the two smaller bodies, the zawiya and the taifa, were clandestine. The most important of the initial cells of the zawiya, based in Fez, was led by Allal al-Fasi and Muhammad Hassan al-Wazzani (Ouezzani). Along with five others from the Fez cell, and Ahmed Balafrej and Ahmad Muhammad Lyazidi of the Rabat cell, they constituted the core leadership of the budding nationalist movement. Fasi was primus inter pares owing to his capabilities as a thinker and organizer, and to his personal charisma.

Their platform was disseminated through the Paris-based magazine Maghrib, and various Moroccan-based French and Arabic periodicals. Formally compiled and published in 1934 as the Plan des réformes, the CAM's program argued for comprehensive reform of the French protectoratepolitically, administratively, judicially (mixing Western and Islamic legal codes), economically, and educationallyso as to achieve the protectorate's stated goal: the moral and material revival of Morocco with the aid of France. The plan was explicitly reformist. It did not contain any demand for discontinuing the protectorate or achieving independence.

The CAM made little headway from 1934 to 1935 in persuading the French authorities to respond to their demands. The ascent of Popular Front governments in France and Spain in the first portion of 1936 temporarily gave them new hope; the subsequent lack of progress led the CAM leadership to convene a series of mass meetings in order to mobilize wider public support. In response, in November 1936, the French authorities arrested al-Fasi, al-Wazzani, Lyazidi, and others but released them a month later. The CAM then adopted a more vigorous strategy of broadening its ranks. By early 1937, it had expanded its official membership to about 6,500 (excluding the Spanish zone), had established thirty-two sections throughout the country, and was demonstrating mass appeal among urban workers, artisans, and unemployed rural migrants to the cities.

Alarmed by its success, the French authorities dissolved the CAM on 18 March 1937. The CAM leadership, however, quickly managed to reconstitute itself a month later as the Parti National (National Party for the Realization of the Plan of Reforms). Concurrently, a rupture occurred between a majority of the leadership, led by al-Fasi, and al-Wazzani, who formed the Parti Démocratique Constitutionnel.

see also balafrej, ahmed; fasi, allal al-; parti dÉmocratique constitutionnel (pdc); parti national; popular front; wazzani, muhammad hassan al-.

Bruce Maddy-Weitzman

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