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French Protectorate of Morocco (1912-1946)

Last modified: 2013-12-21 by antónio martins
Keywords: canton: occupant country | canton: france | civil ensign | star: 5 points (green) | pentagram | seal of solomon | sultan’s standard | star: 5 points (multicolored) | error | crescent: points to top |
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Flag of Morocco
image by Željko Heimer, 08 Jun 2002
See also:


In the end of the XIXth century, there were a lot of revolts in Morocco and the European powers decided to solve the “Moroccan problem”. France occupied Ujda and Casablanca in 1907, whereas Spain occupied Salwan and other strategic places in 1909. In spite of German protest, the French Protectorate over Morocco was established on 30 March 1912. The Sultan kept a nominal sovereignty. The Spanish zone was completely autonomous (treaty from 27 November 1912).
Ivan Sache, 15 Jun 2003, based on [lux01]

Morocco was theoretically an independent state under protectorate, with its own flag and administration, “advised” by a Resident-General.

The most famous Redident-General was Lyautey (1854-1934), who commanded in 1907 the first French intervention in Morocco, created the protectorate in 1912 and was appointed Resident-General from 1912 to 1925. Based on his extensive knowledge of the country and his inhabitants, Lyautey combined military operations of pacification, restoration of traditional Morocco and rejection of direct French administration, and economical development and modernization.

In comparison with the colonial ideology of resource exploitation and direct administration which was widespread at that time, Lyautey can be considered as one of the best French colonial administrators and the relatively peaceful way to independence in Morocco owes him a lot. The comparison with the sad history of neighbouring Algeria, which was part of France, is straightforward.

Ivan Sache, 08 Dec 2000

General Lyautey was appointed High-Commissioner and Resident-General of Morocco in 1912. He attempted to pacify the country and increase the Sultan’s authority. Lyautey believed that colonial military operations were totaly unefficient if not associated with deep political reforms, which was extremely wise and progressive for the time. At the end of the First World War, most of Morocco was pacified and economical development of the country was in process.
Ivan Sache, 08 Dec 2000, based on [lux01]

Independance of Morocco was accepted by France on 6 November 1955 and officialized on 2 March 1956, when King Muhammad V came back from exile. Spain gave back the Rif area to Morocco on 7 April 1956 and the port of Ifni in June 1969.
Ivan Sache, 15 Jun 2003, based on [lux01]

Description of the flag

Flag of Morocco
image by Željko Heimer, 08 Jun 2002

According to Lux-Wurm’s book [lux01], on 17 November 1915, the civil ensign of Morocco under French Protecorate was officialized, as a red flag with a green pentagram placed in the middle. In 1923, the French Tricolore was added in canton to the civil ensign.
Ivan Sache, 15 Jun 2003

The flag was created by a Dahir (Decree) dated 17 November 1915, and since I can find no legislation repealing it, and it is indeed shown in the 1939 Flaggenbuch [neu92], I must agree that the national flag never bore a tricolore canton.
Christopher Southworth, 21 Jan 2003

According to Flaggenbuch [neu92], the current (and pre-colonial) Moroccan flag was the “national” flag.
Ivan Sache, 19 Mar 2000

In Neubecker’s Flaggenbuch [neu92] the French Zone National Flag is the same as same as current (ratio: 2:3).
Željko Heimer, 12 Jun 2002

Civil ensign (1919-1946)

Flag of French Morocco
image by Željko Heimer, 12 Jun 2002

The article [ivaXX] confirms this design.
Mark Sensen, 06 Jun 1996

[See construction sheet contributed by Christopher Southworth, 23 Jan 2002]

In Neubecker’s Flaggenbuch [neu92] the French Zone Merchant Flag is a red flag with green pentagram in the middle and with white fimbriated French tricolour in the canton, 1/3 of hoist high. (ratio: 2:3).
Željko Heimer, 12 Jun 2002

According to Neubecker’s Flaggenbuch [neu92], the flag with the French Tricolore in canton was the civil ensign, not the national flag. This is not illogical, since the French protectorates of Morocco and Tunisia were theoretically independent states which had “required” the generous protection of France (as opposed to Algeria, which was part of the French Republic and had not required anything). The Grand Larousse Illustré du XXème Siécle (1929) also shows a “plain” Moroccan flag (as well as a “plain” Tunisian flag).
Ivan Sache, 19 Mar 2000

A civil ensign — separate from the national flag for use on land — was created by the Annex to a Decree (Dahir) of 13 March 1919 on the Code Cherifien de commerce maritime, which states that:

Chapter V - On the Arab Ensign

Article 41

The characteristics are as follows: a red ensign with a green Seal of Solomon and a ’tricolore’ shown in the upper corner part of the cloth opposite to the fly.

The ensign was then modified, regulated and defined by a further Decree of 1 September 1923, published on Page 1129 of the Official Gazette dated 18 September 1923, with the relevant part stating that:

Article 41

The Arab merchant ensign shall be flown at sea by ships registered in the French Zone of the Arab Empire, when meeting a warship, when in port (and) when requested (to do so) by the competent authorities.

This ensign is characterized as follows: a red ensign carrying in its centre a green Seal of Solomon with five points. The diameter of the circle containing this Seal of Solomon is equal to one-third the height of the ensign.

It (the flag) has a cut-out in the upper part next to the hoist, (with) a rectangular vertical tricolour (in) blue, white and red. This cut-out covers one third the dimensions of the ensign as detailed above, and is bordered by a white fimbriation of 0m 03 or 0m 05 in width depending on the size of the ensign.

There then follows a list of four sizes of flag ranging from 1.00m × 1.50m to 2.50m × 3.75m. Although the Flaggenbuch [neu92] includes this fimbriation within the one-third quoted above, it is my belief that the wording means that it should be extra to it.

Christopher Southworth, 25 Jun 2004

The tricolore canton was abolished by Dahir No.1-56-059 of 28 April 1956.
Christopher Southworth, 21 Jan 2003

Misreported adoption date

The Civil Ensign of French Morocco was was not established in 1923, but in 1919.
Christopher Southworth, 25 Jun 2004

Kannik [kan56] mentions that the French tricolour was included in the canton of the Moroccan flag from 1923 to 1956.
Ole Andersen, 12 Mar 2000

According to Lux-Wurm’s book [lux01], in 1923, the French Tricolore was added in canton to the civil ensign.
Ivan Sache, 15 Jun 2003

Sultan’s standard

Sultan Flag
image by Željko Heimer, 12 Jun 2002

1:2 triangular pennant, red with yellow border on outer edges with green bordered yellow penatgram in the middle. The two coloured pentagram is made so as if there is green pentagram over which is superimposed somewhat smaller yellow pentagram (this is important how the colouring shall be at crossing areas).
Željko Heimer, 12 Jun 2002

According to Flaggenbuch [neu92], the Sultan’s standard was a triangular red flag with a yellow Moroccan star fimbriated in yellow.
Ivan Sache, 19 Mar 2000

According to Flaggenbuch [neu92], it shows a yellow star, without gaps, fimbriated in green, with gaps. Proportion of the flag is 1:2. Diameter of the star, fimbriation included, is ca. 2/3rd of the hoist height.
Ivan Sache, 05 Dec 2000

According to Flaggenbuch [neu92], the star is yellow, continuous (without gaps). Therefore, there is a “second” green star being the fimbriation, and three non-connected green sgements to fimbriate the inner pentagone (i.e. the green segments never cross the yellow lines). Image captioned «Sultanstandarte».
Ivan Sache, 08 Dec 2000

See also: Independent Morocco royal flags

General Resident

Flaggenbuch [neu92], adds to the French Zone section: «Flagge des Generalresidenten siehe unter Frankreich», which means «Flag of the General Resident, see under France.», refering to this flag.
Željko Heimer, 12 Jun 2002, and Santiago Dotor, 13 Jun 2002

Incorrect French Morocco flag in Casablanca movie

Err. Fr. Morocco flag
image by Eugene Ipavec, 09 Jul 2006

I’ve just watched Casablanca (again) and noticed that, right at the beginning of the film above the outside door to the Préfet de Police’s offices there was a French tricolor with an Islamic star and crescent in the central white band (with the open end of the crescent “pointing” upwards). Being a black-and-white film, I don’t know the color of the symbol, but it appeared to be the same shade of gray as the right-hand red band.
Owen Blacker, 27 Oct 2002

(The thing above the door in the movie is not a flag, but a shield.) The star is not the filled-in kind. I first thought it was a Moroccan pentagram, but there were no internal lines — just an outline. The position of the star is such that the two horizontal arms should be level with the horns of the crescent. The color of the symbol was a darker shade of gray than either of the bands, and thus likely a different color, most probably green. The colorized version of the movie I found at my local library had it in green too, which likely doesn’t mean anything except that the colorizing technicians may have concluded it was supposed to be a different color from the side bars too.
Eugene Ipavec, 23 Aug 2005

I have the complete flags laws for Morocco from 1915-1957, and there is no mention of a tricolore as described. Hollywood of the 1940’s was not renowned for the accuracy of its history or of its props, and I rather think that there is little doubt of the flag being an invention to give a spuriously “authentic” atmosphere.
Christopher Southworth, 27 Jun 2004

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