- For the Canadian figure skater, see Jamie Salé.
ⵙⵍⴰ / سلا
|• Ruler||Mohammed VI|
|• Total||1 000 000|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||WEST (UTC+1)|
Salé (Arabic: سلا - Sala, Berber ⵙⵍⴰ - Sla) is a city in north-western Morocco, on the right bank of the Bou Regreg river, opposite the national capital Rabat, for which it serves as a commuter town. Founded in antiquity as a Phoenician colony, it became a haven for pirates as an independent republic before being incorporated into Alaouite Morocco.
It is the oldest city on the Atlantic coast, as it was founded by the Phoenicians and was known back then as Sala (modern challah); it was completed since then from the other side of the river of Bou Regreg by the Banu Ifran dynasty. During the 17th century, Rabat was known as New Salé, or Salé la neuve (in French) which explains Salé as the oldest city on the river. In the 10th century the Banu Ifran Berber tribe settled the area and constructed a settlement where the city currently stands. These Banu Ifran were also the builders of the 'Great Mosque of Salé'.
Salé... dates back at least to Carthaginian times (around 7th century BC). The Romans called the place Sala Colonia, part of their province of Mauritania Tingitane. Pliny the Elder mentions it (as a desert town infested with elephants!). The Vandals captured the area in the 5th century AD and left behind a number of blonde, blue-eyed Berbers. The Arabs (7th century) kept the old name and believed it derived from "Sala" (sic., his name is actually Salah), son of Ham, son of Noah; they said that Salé was the first city ever built by the Berbers.
Republic of Salé
In the 17th century, Salé became a haven for Moriscos-turned-Barbary pirates. Salé pirates (the well-known "Salé Rovers") roamed the seas as far as the shores of the Americas, bringing back loot and slaves. They formed the Republic of Salé. There is an American family, van Salee, descended from a Dutch Salé Rover, Jan Janszoon.
The city of Salé was bombarded by the French Admiral Isaac de Razilly on 20 July 1629 with a fleet composed of the ships Licorne, Saint-Louis, Griffon, Catherine, Hambourg, Sainte-Anne, Saint-Jean. He bombarded the city and destroyed 3 corsair ships.
20th-century socio-political development
Salé acquired its title of nobility during the French occupation. During the decades preceding the independence of Morocco, the city was the stronghold of some "national movement" activists. The reading of the "Latif" (a politically charged prayer to God, read in mosques in loud unison) was launched in Salé and relayed in some cities of Morocco.
In 1851, Salé was bombarded in retaliation for piracy being practiced by Moroccan ships against European traders.
A petition against the so-called "Berber Dahir" (a decree that allowed some Berber-speaking areas of Morocco to continue using Berber Law, as opposed to Sharia Law) was given to Sultan Mohamed V and the Resident General of France. The petition and the "Latif" prayer lead to the withdrawal and adjustment of the so-called "Berber Decree" of May 1930. The activists that opposed the "Berber Decree" apparently had a fear that the explicit recognition of the Berber Customary Law (a very secular-minded Berber tradition) would threaten the position of Islam and its Sharia law system. Others saw in opposing the French-engineered "Berber Decree" as a means to turn the table against the French occupation of Morocco.
The widespread storm that was created by the "Berber Dahir" controversy created a somewhat popular Moroccan nationalist elite based in Salé and Fez with strong anti-Berber, anti-West, anti-secularism, and with strong Arab-Islamic inclinations. That episode of Moroccan history was the basis of some of the political awareness that would lead fourteen years later the signing of the Manifest of Independence of Morocco on 11 January 1944 by many "Slawi" activists and leaders. Salé has also been deemed to have been the stronghold of the Moroccan left for many decades, where many leaders have resided.
Today, Salé has become the stronghold of political Islam, and of extremist, Jihadist, and Islamist Salafist groups in Morocco. Extreme and Saudi-style Islamic religiosity (men with long beards and Arabian/Afghan clothes, women covered in black ...etc.), coupled with extreme poverty in overcrowded neighborhoods has become a hallmark of modern Salé, in a strong contrast with the rest of Morocco.
Salé has played a rich and important part in Moroccan history. The first demonstrations for independence against the French, for example, sparked off in Salé. A good number of government officials, decision makers and royal advisers of Morocco were born in Salé. Salé people, the Slawis, have always had a "tribal" sense of belonging, a sense of pride that developed into a feeling of superiority towards the "berranis", i.e. Outsiders.
The prefecture is divided administratively into the following:
|Name||Geographic code||Type||Households||Population (2004)||Foreign population||Moroccan population||Notes|
|Sidi Bouknadel||441.03.03.||Rural commune||6933||43593||20||43573||9314 residents live in the center, called Bouknadel; 34279 residents live in rural areas.|
Modern Salé is a highly polluted, badly planned, rapidly expanding town because of rural exodus. The city is now a large "dormitory town" with little community life, devoid of a "centre" of its own. Most of its influential and wealthy inhabitants have departed to live in Rabat on the other side of the river. Physical remnants of Salé's historical heritage are totally decrepit, pollution is prevalent and insecurity is high. However, both its geographical situation and its "melting pot" aspect make it a town with a lot of potential that so far remains untapped by the local authorities. Recent developments, including the new bridge connecting to Rabat, the new Salé-Rabat tram system, marina and coastal development, all show that this is changing with the government and private development companies such as Emaar Properties pouring money into the area.
Water supply and wastewater collection in Salé was irregular, with poorer and illegal housing units suffering the highest costs and most acute scarcities. Much of the city used to rely upon communal standpipes, which was often shut down, depriving some neighbourhoods of safe drinking water for indefinite periods of time. Nevertheless, Salé fared better than inland Moroccan locations, where water scarcity is even more acute. Recent improvements from the government, local business's and Redal has meant that this situation has improved drastically in recent times. High unemployment used to be a serious issue to the Sale area, with the numerous textile factories located in this area being the only real source of work, this is recently diversing into other areas such as international call centres, electronics and recently a new "techno park" was opened, which was modeled on the Casablanca techno centre success.
In popular culture
The film Black Hawk Down was partially filmed in Salé, in particular the wide angle aerial shots with helicopters flying down the coastline.
The character Robinson Crusoe, in Daniel Defoe's novel by the same name, spends time in captivity of the local pirates, the Salé Rovers, and at last sails off to liberty from the mouth of the Salé river.
- Houcine Slaoui, musician
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Salé.|
- Location information.
- Wilson, Peter (1995). Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes. Autonomedia. ISBN 1-57027-158-5.
- E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 9 by Martijn Theodoor Houtsma p.549
- "'Abd ar-Rasham". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
- "Recensement général de la population et de l'habitat de 2004". Haut-commissariat au Plan, Lavieeco.com. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- Guillaume Benoit and Aline Comeau, A Sustainable Future for the Mediterranean (2005) 640 pages