An interesting aspect of popular religion in the twentieth century is the nation-building aspect of the movement. Both Kosansky and Ben-Ami mentioned the popular aspect of these rituals and how they became necessary to build and create a national identity.
Kosansky speaks about the elite and colonial administrators using the pilgrimage as a political tool, used by the French to exercise authority over the protectorate. They did this by using the holy sites as mouthpieces of administration in some aspects because the largest crowds would be in attendance. After the 1930’s Ben-Ami explains, these pilgrimages became national events, which melted many different social groups together. The King, who came in after the French were deposed, also used these traditions as a nation builder, and to increase his legitimacy and give authority to his title ‘Commander of the Faithful’.
When I was in Morocco, and during the course of my research, I have come into countless examples of this practice still happening. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, part of the king’s reform package was liberalizing a parliament, on the condition that he was given control of the Ministry of Religion. This is an example of how important religion in the country is to his legitimacy. This is also accompanied with his highly publicized visits to religious shrines and mosques. He has managed to keep his piety in the view of his people, even after he transformed familial law from Sharia based, to a Swiss/French based system secular system.

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