The Riffian people, in Tarifit: Irifiyen, by others also known as
Riff, Riyefa or Ruafa, are a Berber speaking people of Northwestern
Africa, who derive their name from the
Rif region in the northern edge
of Morocco. Being a part to Gibraltar Arc and living close to the
Iberian peninsula, communities of
Riffian people are found both in
Morocco and southern Spain, as well as elsewhere in
Western Europe and North Africa. Their native settlements were
Arabized and Islamized in and after the 7th-century, during the early
expansion of Islam. They are overwhelmingly maraboutic Sunni
Muslims, but retain their pre-Islamic traditions such as high status
for Riffian women.
According to Irina Casado i Aijon,
Riffian people have traditionally
organized themselves under "patrilineality and patrilocality
principles". The oldest man in the household commands authority and
responsibility for decisions, while women jointly care for the young
and sick without any discrimination. The
Riffian people have retained
some of their traditional occupations, such as working in pig meat
industry, despite being Muslims and "pig meat" being haram in
Islam. Like other Berbers, temporary migration is an accepted
tradition. The Riffians have been a significant source of Morocco
emigrants into some European countries such as the
Riffian people speak the Tamazight group of Berber languages,
specifically Tarifit or Zenatiya. The languages spoken depend on
the region, with many Riffian who speak a Berber language also
Arabic or Spanish. Nineteen groups or social units of
Riffians are known: 5 in the west along the Mediterranean coast which
speak Arabic, 7 in the centre of which one speaks mainly
Rif language, 5 in the east and 2 in the southeastern desert area
also speak the Rif-Berber language.
They have inhabited an impoverished and an eroded, deforested, poorly
irrigated region. Poverty rate and infant mortality rates among the
Riffian people has been high, according to a study published in 1980
by Terri Joseph. The Riffians have lived a largely settled,
agricultural lifestyle, using hand tools, oxen and cattle to plow the
steeply terraced land in their valleys. Horticultural produce along
with sheep and goat meat, cheese, and milk provide the traditional
sustenance. Some practice sardine-seining along the Mediterranean
Le Rif, a 1926 regional French map during the
Riffian people have experienced numerous wars over their history.
Some of their cultural traditions reflects and remembers this history,
such as the singing and dancing of Araya Liyara, Ayara Labuya, which
literally means "Oh Lady oh Lady, oh Lady Buya" and is accompanied by
izran (couplets) and addjun (tambourine tapping). This tradition,
states Hsain Ilahiane, is linked to the 11th-century destruction and
deaths of the Riffian fathers during the raid by the Almoravid leader
Yusuf ibn Tashfin. In more modern times, the
Rif War caused
numerous deaths of
Riffian people and of Spanish as well as French
Rif War witnessed the use of chemical weapons in the
1920s by the Spanish army.
In 1958, some Riffian communities launched a modern nationalist
movement. In the decades that followed, the
Rif region has
witnessed Riffian demonstrations and demands for recognition of
Riffian language, culture and Berber studies at schools and
universities. A resurgent Riffian nationalism in 2010, their
protests in 2013 and protests in 2017 for hogra – a humiliating
treatment by an abusive state, has drawn public attention, as well as
claims of brutal suppression by Moroccan authorities.
Tribes and tribal groups
The Riffians are divided into these tribes and tribal groups:
Ibuqquyn (or Buqquya), a tribal group.
Aith Waryagher (or Bni Waryaghel), a tribal group.
Aith 'Ammarth (or Bni Ammarth), a tribal group.
Igzinnayn (or Gzinnaya), a tribal group.
Ayt Tuzin (or Bni Tuzin), a tribal group.
Thimsaman (or Timsaman), a tribal group.
Aith Sa'id (or Bni Sa'id), a tribe.
Aith Wurishik (or Bni Wulishk), a tribe.
Thafarsith (Tafarsit), a tribe.
Ibdharsen (or Mtalsa), a tribe.
Aith Bu Yihyi (or Bni Bu Yihyi)
Iqar'ayn (or Ql'aya), five tribal confederacies.
Ikibdhanen (or Kibdana)
Aith yittuft (or Bni Ittuft).
Aith Bu Frah (or Bni Bu Frah), partly arabic-speaking.
Senhaja de Srair language
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Society. University of Chicago Press. 5 (3): 418–434.
^ a b Hsain Ilahiane (2017). Historical Dictionary of the Berbers
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^ James A. Romano Jr.; Harry Salem; Brian J. Lukey (2007). Chemical
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^ David S. Woolman (1968). Rebels in the Rif: Abd el Krim and the Rif
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^ Rough in the Rif: Morocco’s unrest is worsening, The Economist
(July 8 2017), Quote: "The trouble began in October after a fishmonger
called Mouhcine Fikri was crushed by a garbage compactor at a port in
Al Hoceima, which is located in the Rif, a northern mountain region
with a rebellious streak. Fikri was trying to retrieve fish that had
been confiscated by the authorities. To locals, his death was a
striking example of hogra—humiliating treatment by an abusive state.
(...) The government has since exacerbated the situation with yet more
hogra. In May it called the protesters separatists, though most are
not, and suggested that they were foreign agents. (...) The unrest not
only increased, but spread to other parts of the country, including
Rabat, the capital, where on June 11th thousands of people rallied in
support of the Riffians. All told, it is the largest display of public
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^ Hart, David M. (2014). Tribe and Society in Rural Morocco.
Routledge. p. 105. ISBN 9781135302542.
Demographics of Morocco
Modern Standard Arabic
Standard Moroccan Berber
Al Hoceïma Province
Capital: Al Hoceima
Ait Youssef Ou Ali
Bni Ahmed Imoukzan
Bni Gmil Maksouline
Moulay Ahmed Cherif
Zaouiat Sidi Abdelkader
Bni Oukil Oulad M'Hand
Bni Sidel Jbel
Bni Sidel Louta
Oulad Daoud Zkhanine
Sanhajas de Srayr