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Ait Iznassen flag
Ait Iznassen territory

The Ait Iznassen (Berber: ⴰⵢⵜ ⵉⵣⵏⴰⵙⵏ), or Beni Znassen; is an historical Berber Zenati tribal confederation located in north-east of Morocco in the provinces of Oujda, Berkane and Taourirt.

History[change | change source]

The first mention of the Ait Iznassen in the area is from 11th century sources. These sources speak of the conquest of Oujda by the Almoravids. The Almoravids did not attack Oujda at first because the Ait Iznassen were too strong. The tribe was one of the Zenati tribes. Under the Merinids, the Ait Iznassen were given large parts of eastern Morocco. Later, in 1908, they were the first Moroccan people to revolt against the French colonizers without failing. This revolt caused the French to leave the area. However, they were able to forcefully bring the tribes to peace in January 1909.

Etymology[change | change source]

Iznassen in the Berber Zenati language is the plural of “Aznas” which is made of “Azn” meaning “Send” and “As” meaning “The Day”. Iznasen literally means "Those who send (during) the Day".

Layout[change | change source]

The Ait Iznassen are divided into 4 (Arabized) Berber tribes :

  • Beni Khaled or Ait Khaled
    • Oulad el Ghazi (Aghbal)
    • Ahl Taghejirt
    • Beni Drar
  • Beni Menqouch or Ait Menqouch
    • Labsara
    • Beni Khellouf
    • Beni Mimoun
  • Beni 'Atiq or Ait 'Atiq
    • Tghasrout
    • Ouled 'Ali ben Yassin
    • Beni Amiyer
    • Beni Hammad
    • Tazaghine
    • Beni Moussi La'tach
    • Beni Moussi Rwa
    • Ouled Mimoun
    • Beni Bouya'la
  • Beni Ourimech or Ait Ourimech
    • Ouled Bou 'Abdoussayed
    • Ouled 'Ali Chbab
    • Ouled Abbou
    • Ahl Tagma
    • Beni Nouga
    • Beni Mahiou

Language[change | change source]

The east of Morocco has many different languages. Beni Iznasen has both Arabic-speaking and Berber-speaking political groups. Bilingualism sometimes occurs, mainly in the older generations. The younger generations usually only speak Arabic.

Arabic[change | change source]

The Arabic dialect of eastern Morocco is the so-called Hilali dialect. It is similar to the dialects of Marrakech and Casablanca. It is different to the urban (pre-Hilali) dialects of Fes and the north of Morocco. This Arabic dialect also is similar to the dialect of western Algeria (Tlemcen), which borders the Beni Iznasen area.

Berber[change | change source]

Those who speak the most Berber are the older generations of the Ait Iznassen people. The Berber dialect of eastern Morocco is almost similair to East Riffian and the Berber of Beni Snous tribe near Tlemcen in Algeria.

Since the Berber language was made an official language of Morocco in 2011, schools are now teaching the language to new generations.

Personalities[change | change source]

Personalities who are born or originally from the Beni Snassen region.

Sports[change | change source]

Hicham El Guerrouj - Olympian, World Record Fastest Mile

Hakim Ziyech - Footballer Chelsea, 2022 World Cup Morocco Team

Lahssen Akhmiss - Footballer

Abdelkader El Brazi - Footballer

Mohammed Berrabeh - Footballer

Ahmed Talbi - Footballer

Abdelkader Wahabi - Boxer

Politicians & Diplomats[change | change source]

Abbas Al Fassi - Prime Minister (2007), Minister of Housing (1977-1981), Minister of Handicraft and Social Affairs (1981-1985), Ambassador to Tunisia (1985-1990), Ambassador to France (1990-1994).

Mbarek Bekai - Prime Minister (1955-1958)

Anis Birou - Secretary of State (2007-2012)

Abdeladim El Guerrouj - Minister Deleguate for Public Services

Business[change | change source]

Fouzi Lekja - President of the Royal Moraccon Football Federation, Businessman.

References[change | change source]