Hassan II

Hassan II
born 1929, king of Morocco since 1961.

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orig. Mawlāy Ḥasan Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf

born July 9, 1929, Rabat, Mor.
died July 23, 1999, Rabat

King of Morocco (1961–99).

On his succession to the throne, he introduced a new constitution providing for a popularly elected legislature but exercised authoritarian rule from 1965 to 1970, instituting a new constitution in 1970. He claimed Western Sahara for Morocco; this led to ongoing hostilities with the Saharawi guerrilla organization Polisario. In 1986 he became the second Arab leader to meet publicly with an Israeli leader. He condemned the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Under his leadership Morocco achieved political stability and some economic and social development, though there were accusations that human rights were not respected in his kingdom. See also Muhammad V; Saharan Arab Democratic Republic.

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▪ 2000
Mawley Hassan Muhammad Ibn Yusuf 
      Moroccan king (b. July 9, 1929, Rabat, Mor.—d. July 23, 1999, Rabat), ruled his country for 38 years and, despite being criticized for his government's alleged human rights abuses, was credited with instituting a number of political reforms and playing an instrumental role in the Middle East peace process. After earning a law degree from the Institute of Law Studies in Rabat (a subsidiary of the University of Bordeaux in France), he was appointed commander of the Royal Armed Forces (1955) and deputy premier (1960); in 1961, upon the death of his father, Muhammad V, he succeeded to the throne. King Hassan II enacted a new constitution in 1962 that provided for a popularly elected parliament, but political unrest forced him to call a state of emergency and dissolve the parliament in 1965. He restored a limited parliamentary government under a new constitution in 1970 and, following assassination attempts in 1971, 1972, and 1973, began slowly implementing promised reforms to allow a more liberal economy and greater freedom of speech. He led a takeover of the Spanish colony of Western Sahara in 1975, though the move ignited a long conflict with Polisario Front guerrillas, who continued to agitate for Saharan independence throughout the king's reign. In the early 1990s, after being harshly criticized by Amnesty International for the reported mistreatment of political prisoners, he freed hundreds of leftists and members of the military who allegedly had tried to overthrow him; thereafter King Hassan II allowed the establishment of human rights committees in Morocco. His notable accomplishments in foreign affairs included the cultivation of good relations with the U.S. and other Western countries and efforts to foster peace in the Middle East. He was a key mediator in negotiations that led to the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and in 1994 Morocco became one of the first Arab countries to establish formal ties with Israel.

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▪ king of Morocco
original name  Mawlāy al-Ḥasan Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf 
born July 9, 1929, Rabat, Mor.
died July 23, 1999, Rabat
 king of Morocco from 1961 to 1999. Hassan was considered by pious Muslims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad ( Ahl al-Bayt).

      Hassan, after taking a law degree at Bordeaux, France, was appointed commander of the Royal Armed Forces (1955) and deputy premier (1960) and succeeded to the throne on the death of his father, Muḥammad V (1961). As king, Hassan tried to democratize the Moroccan political system by introducing a new constitution (1962) that provided for a popularly elected legislature while maintaining a strong executive branch headed by the king. From 1965 to 1970 he exercised authoritarian rule in order to contain opposition to his regime, but he restored limited parliamentary government under a new constitution in 1970 and instituted some socioeconomic reforms following attempted coups in 1971, 1972, and 1973.

      In the struggle between Morocco and Algeria over Spanish Sahara (later Western Sahara), Hassan strongly promoted Morocco's claim to the territory, and in November 1975 he called for a “Green March” of 350,000 unarmed Moroccans into the territory to demonstrate popular support for its annexation. Western Sahara was in fact divided between Morocco and Mauritania (1976), but this victory proved to be hollow, since guerrillas of the Polisario (Polisario Front) Front, agitating for Saharan independence, tied down Moroccan troops and prevented the exploitation of the phosphate deposits that had made the Sahara desirable to Morocco in the first place.

 Despite criticisms concerning human rights abuses, Hassan was generally credited with having adroitly maintained the fragile unity of Morocco. He held on to his authority when several other Arab states were toppled by fundamentalist Islamic revolutionaries. In foreign affairs he cultivated markedly closer relations with the United States and the West than his father had. This closeness was to some extent possible because of Hassan's moderate positions on the state of Israel. The United States especially valued his ability to mediate between conflicting parties in the Middle East. During World War II, Hassan's father defied the Axis (Axis Powers) order to deport Morocco's large Jewish population. Many Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel after the war, and Hassan claimed that this population formed a bridge between Arabs and Israelis. By the early 1980s Hassan had accepted the existence of the state of Israel and moved to the forefront of peace negotiations in the Middle East.

      Hassan was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Sīdī Muḥammad, whose name was restyled to Muḥammad VI when he ascended to the throne.

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Universalium. 2010.

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