Berber, Rif in Netherlands

Berber, Rif
Photo Source:  David Dennis - Flickr  Creative Commons  Used with permission
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People Name: Berber, Rif
Country: Netherlands
10/40 Window: No
Population: 161,000
World Population: 1,883,300
Primary Language: Tarifit
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.50 %
Evangelicals: 0.10 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Berber-Riff
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Riffians are a North African Berber tribe who belong to a much larger group of Berbers known as the Shilha. The Shilha Berbers are divided into three main groups: The Northern (Rif) Berber, the Southern (Sousi) Berber, and the Central (Beraber) Berber. The Rif Berbers are composed of 19 individual tribes.

The Arabic word rif means "the edge of the cultivated area" and aptly describes Riffian territory. Dwelling on the harsh slopes of the Rif Mountains in Morocco and Algeria, the Riffians inhabit a land of deserts, mountains and rolling fields. The Africans call this entire region Maghrib. Between 670 and 700 A.D., Muslim Arabs conquered the Maghrib.

In the mid-1940s, the Netherlands welcomed guest workers to their country from their former colonies like Indonesia. Between 1965-86, a large number of Moroccans (Rif Berbers, usually) arrived in the Netherlands as guest workers. Many of these people did not return to Morocco. In 1974, Moroccans were allowed to have their families join them in the Netherlands. Now they are settled there.

Where Are they Located?

The vast majority of Rif Berbers live in Algeria and Morocco, but there is a diaspora in various European countries like the Netherlands and France.

What Are Their Lives Like?

There are a large number of Moroccan Rif Berbers in the Netherlands, so they are sometimes singled out as the people whom certain politicians view as a threat. Some of the Dutch would like to see them deported.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Riffians 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). Riffian society is organized around two main systems: Islam and the tribe. However, there are many differences between urban and rural societies. 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?

Many Riffians are searching for answers beyond Muslim fundamentalism. Those in Algeria and Morocco do not have the freedom to follow Christ, but those in the Netherlands do. However, the majority remain unreached, still needing an opportunity to hear that Jesus offers life to the full.

Prayer Points

* Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Rif Berbers in the Netherlands.
* Pray for a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Rif Berber families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
* Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Rif Berber disciples to make more disciples.

Text Source:   Keith Carey