Rachel Muyal: The Ambassador of Tangier

The cultural elite of Tangier knows Rachel Muyal very well and has great respect for her. This Moroccan Jewish writer, who died last Monday in her house in the rue Pasteur in the center of Tangier, gave culturally a lot to the city in which she was born in 1933.

Rachel Muyal was born in the famous Marchan district of Tangier. Her father served in the Dutch army. She lost her mother at the age of two and a half. Her uncle Samuel took care of her education.

She said that when she died, there would be no more Jews in Tangier. Unfortunately, her prophecy came true, as she was almost the last Moroccan Jew in Tangier. She had refused to leave this city, preferring to live there until her last breath.

Rachel Muyal did not enter school until she was eight years old, but she learned to read and write years before that. Her passion for books, reading and knowledge led her to become the director of one of the most famous bookstores in Tangier and Morocco. This is the bookshop “Les Colonnes” which, under her management, has become a cultural and literary fair prized by great intellectuals from all over the world.

Although she met some of the world’s greats, she has managed to remain modest. She left behind her a history rich in memories, just as she was a model of the free and autonomous woman. She was a friend of great writers at the international level, such as Mohammed Choukri, Paul Bowles, Driss Chraïbi, Gilles Kepel, Tahar Benjelloun, Jean Genet, Juan Goytisolo, as well as many others. She has made the bookstore that she managed from 1973 to 1998, an essential destination for great personalities from the world of literature, culture, finance and business.

Rachel Muyal remained so enamored of her hometown that her friends nicknamed her “the ambassador of Tangier”. As a result, she has recorded the smallest details of her life, which is intertwined with the history of this city, in a book written in her name by Dominic Rousseau, entitled “La mémoire d’une Tangéroise” (The Memory of a Tangier Woman).


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