Moroccan Identity

Morocco is the country furthest northwest in Africa. It is a country with rich history regarding the identity of the people in the country. Morocco is in a region known as the Maghreb region. In this region the indigenous people are known as the Berbers. The Berbers have been a part of this region since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, because of centuries of colonialism, the identity of these people has been clouded. Robert D. Kaplan highlighted the importance of identity in the region through aspects such as diction, etymology, and logos.

Identity Through Diction

Diction is an important factor in an article’s rhetoric as it affects our response. According to Robert D. Kaplan who wrote the article, “In Morocco A Berber Face Hides Beneath an Arab Mask,” for The New York Times, Arabs invaded Morocco with the hopes of the “intermingling of the two peoples,” but fortunately, the Berber ethnicity still stands strong today. The point Kaplan is trying to make is that the people of Morocco still keep the original identity today despite many groups of people trying to eradicate it–specifically Arabs. He says “For Morocco is not an Arab country at all, but a Berber one with a deceptive Arab veneer.” This sentence shows Kaplan’s connection to the topic by expressing subjective opinion regarding Morocco’s appearance.

Kaplan’s sentence structure is very interesting. He also starts the sentence with the conjunction “for” gives off a very formal start to the sentence, making the tone very serious. But then the sentence is ended with the word “veneer” meaning “an attractive appearance that covers or disguises someone or something’s true nature or feelings.” This word is the equivalent of a “facade” or “mask” which is a very powerful way to emphasize the the root of the title of the article. Clearly Kaplan wants to make it known that the Arab identity in Morocco is one that came from a place of a superficial lack of attention to the actual history. That was obviously a very purposeful thing to do to end the sentence with that word.


Kaplan also analyzes the use of a word for identity. He continues by educating his audience on the origin of the word “Berber” and what it really means. He asserts that, “The word Berber may have been derived from ”barbari,” the Greek and Roman term for foreigners, but the Berber’s word for Berber is ”Amazigh,” which means ”free man,” and their culture exemplifies this principle.” Because he begins with a very basic statement on where the word was derived from and what it means in relation to its language and people, it is clear that he aims to educate the general public. If he talked about the Berber history with no context of the region and language then it would’ve been aimed at people with some background in the department of Berber or Amazigh history.


As Kaplan goes through the article, he states a lot of historical facts. He begins by talking about the history of the the Berber people, followed by the Arab invasion. He then moves on to discuss the origin of language by citing a Berber Inspector General of National Education, Mohammed Chafik. This Berber scholar is quoted in Kaplan’s article saying, “The Berber is what makes the difference between the Maghreb mentality and the Arab mentality of the Near East.” Kaplan uses Chafik’s thoughts to close his paragraph as a method of closing the statement. Berbers and Arabs are not the same and Kaplan wanted to highlight that.


The overall article does justice in explaining the history of the language because Kaplan organizes his ideas in a way where he begins with a very general overview of Morocco and the Arabization of the land then moving on to discuss more specific ideas regarding the history of the Berber people. The article is organized in a way where the beginning talks about Arabization in the 8th century, then moves on to talk about the language of the Berber people, then the origin of the word, then the society of Berber people and women, and a lot more. Kaplan brings attention to a magazine editor named Ahmed Bouskoul created a magazine called “Amazigh” to preserve the Amazigh identity. He states,

”We are not seeking to foster a new militancy among Berbers. Rather, Amazigh is published in French precisely because it is for all Moroccans. Our aim is to tell our countrymen what makes them different from other Arabs, to help them open the door to their own civilization. The magazine is a rearguard action to preserve true Moroccan culture.”

Kaplan’s article is a thoroughly written article that highlights the importance of Berber history as well as the importance of keeping the culture alive. His use of rhetoric is effective in informing as well as persuading people to see the truth behind the history of Morocco and the mask that was forced upon its people.

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