Rif Berber in France

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

In North Africa, the Rif Berbers earn their livelihood from the fig and olive trees that cover the mountain slopes. They supplement their income through job opportunities in major cities of Europe such as Paris and Marseilles. Such jobs lure up to one-third of the male population for most of the year. For some, service in the army and in the factories of France during World War I was an avenue of migration. When the war ended, many remained in France. Others arrived after World War II when there was a labor shortage in France. Decades of immigration have left a large Rif Berber community in France.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Recently, others went as merchants since France is one of the most important trading partners with North Africa. There are many cab drivers in Paris who are Rif Berbers. Other Berber groups have family-owned grocery and produce stores in urban France. As the number of immigrants in France increased, so did various kinds of problems with housing and unemployment. Initially, the immigrants were males who lived in low-standard hostels and worked at low-paying jobs such as construction, street cleaning, mining, or heavy work in steel assembly. With the beginning of economic stress in 1974, many French began to reclaim these jobs; thus, the government began to restrict immigration. This situation has fluctuated a couple of times depending on France's need for cheap labor and the needs of North Africans to leave their country because of economic or political instability. In the Rif Berber family, as many as three or four generations live together in one small room, sharing everything. The father is the head of the family, and ancestry is traced through the males. The family structure is somewhat of an authoritarian democracy. While the father is responsible for controlling all household matters, he must obtain the agreement of the rest of the family as well. Banishment from the family is considered the ultimate punishment. The secular environment in France has left the Berbers, as well as other Muslim peoples, looking to their own communities. They do not want their children to grow up secularized, abandoning the Muslim religion.

The Northern Shilha of Algeria and Morocco known as "Rif Berbers," have numerous tribes of tough and hardened people eking out an existence on the harsh, uninviting slopes of the Rif Mountains.
What Are Their Beliefs?

The Rif Berbers are almost all Muslims, although their religious practices are based more on traditions and the decisions of the community rather than on the Koran, Islam's holy book. Rif society is organized around two main systems: Islam and the tribe. However, there are many differences between urban and rural societies, and this is especially true in a foreign culture like that of France. In urban areas, orthodox Islam prevails; whereas, in rural areas, ancient beliefs and customs are still intermingled with the Muslim faith.

What Are Their Needs?

Rif Berbers need the chance to put their identity in Jesus Christ and enjoy his blessings in this life and in the life to come. Someone needs to go to them with the life-changing gospel.

Prayer Points

Pray for Rif Berbers in France to put their faith and hope in Christ, paving the way for a Disciple Making Movement. Pray for a spiritual hunger among Rif Berbers that will lead them to the cross and the empty grave. Pray for workers to go to the Rif and find persons of people who will welcome them into their communities with the gospel of peace.

Scripture Prayers for the Berber, Rif in France.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Berber, Rif
People Name in Country Berber, Rif
Natural Name Rif Berber
Pronunciation reef BUR-bur
Alternate Names Beraber; Berber; Imazighen; Jebala; Northern Shilha; Northern Shilih; Rif; Rif Berber; Riff; Riffan Berber; Riffi; Riffi Berber; Riffian; Ruafa; Shilha, Northern; Shleuh; Tarifit
Population this Country 129,000
Population all Countries 1,906,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 3
People ID 10803
ROP3 Code 101275
ROP25 Code 309157
ROP25 Name Berber, Riff
Country France
Region Europe, Western
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country France
Region Europe, Western
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.03 %)
0.20 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.80 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Tarifit (129,000 speakers)
Language Code rif   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Tarifit (129,000 speakers)
Language Code rif   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Tarifit
Photo Source David Dennis - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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