From Syria to Tangier

TALIM Syrian mosque TangierTangier has its Syrian mosque, with its own Facebook page.

It has its Syrian quarter.  Google it, and you'll get a page full of real estate ads.  In Tangier, the quartier Syrien is a solidly middle class collection of villas built on slopes.

Why "Syrian?"  Because in the 1960s, a wave of Syrian exiles found a home in Morocco, many of them in Tangier.

The Syrian mosque's needle-like minaret has a distinctive style, much different to the more angular minarets of Morocco.  It's a striking building, and is seen by all who arrive in Tangier by road from the capital.  The mosque was built thanks to one of the main Syrian expatriate families in Tangier, the Tataris.  Originally in the textile business and in real estate, the family's second – Moroccan – generation has branched into various food and luxury brands.

This is definitely a diaspora that has thrived in its adopted country.  In light of the current upheaval in their native Syria, Maroc Hebdo profiled the community in a recent issue.

Fleeing the nationalizations and upheaval of the Baath takeover in Syria in the early Sixties, thousands of Syrians made their way to Morocco.  Maroc Hebdo says that there are some 2,000 Syrian families in Morocco, many of whom, like the Tataris, have been here for more than 40 years.

Morocco has seen street demonstrations in solidarity with the Syrian revolution, at least one of which happened in Tangier.  Morocco recently ordered the expulsion of the Syrian Ambassador.

Gerald Loftus

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