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Béni-oui-oui was a derogatory term for Muslims considered to be collaborators with the French colonial institutions in North Africa during the period of French rule. French administrators in Algeria relied heavily on Muslim intermediaries in their dealings with the indigenous population and many of these cadis (local judges), tax collectors or other tribal authorities were considered by nationalists to be mere rubber stamps and incapable of independent initiative.[1]

The word is derived from "beni", the Arabic term for "sons of", e.g. used to name tribes in Arabic, and "oui", the French language term for "yes". It means "the tribe of the yes-men", a group of persons who systematically give their unanimous approval when asked for. An explanation given in the Bulletin de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris in 1893 is that some "natives" systematically answered "oui, oui" (yes, yes) when a colonial administrator asked them any question.[2]

The word was already in use by 1888-1889 in Metropolitan France (used to label some members of the National Assembly[3]) and Algeria[4] and in 1919 in Morocco.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Horne, Alistair (1978). A Savage War of Peace. New York: The Viking Press. pp. 34 and 35. ISBN 0-670-61964-7.
  2. ^ Viré, Armand (1893). "La Kabylie du Djurjura". Bulletins de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris (in French). Paris: Société d'anthropologie de Paris. 4 (4): 66–93. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  3. ^ Villatte, Césaire (1888). Parisismen. Alphabetisch geordnete Sammlung der eigenartigen Ausdrucksweisen des Pariser Argot (in German). Langenscheidtsche verlagsbuchhandlung. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
  4. ^ Charvériat, François (1889). Huit jours en Kabylie: a travers la Kabylie et les questions Kabyles (in French). Paris: Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et cie. p. 290.
  5. ^ Baida, Jamaâ; Allain, Jean-Claude (1996). La presse marocaine d'expression française: des origines à 1956 (in French). Rabat: Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Rabat. pp. 100 and 118. ISBN 978-9981-825-66-6. Retrieved 2011-07-23.