On 20 August, Morocco celebrates “King and People’s Revolution Day”, or just “Revolution Day” for short. The day commemorates the time when Mohammed V returned from exile in far-off Madagascar and set off a series of events that led to the end of French colonial rule in Morocco.
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Both the Spanish and French had dominated Morocco for a long time. The Spanish had held the territory longer, but France ended up taking almost all of it, leaving Spain only a few outposts on the northern coast. But France sought to make their rule “more official” by demanding Mohammed V sign a “pact of surrender” and that he do what he could to stem the tide of Moroccan nationalism that was threatening a revolt.
Mohammed V refused to cooperate with the French, and so they exiled him to French Madagascar. But upheavals in Morocco finally convinced the French to allow him to return. When he arrived in Morocco on 20 August, 1955, the overwhelming support he received ultimately convinced France to back down and begin negotiations for independence.