Morocco's King Hassan buried as thousands mourn
July 25, 1999
RABAT, Morocco (CNN) -- King Hassan II, who ruled Morocco for 38 years, was buried Sunday in a marble mausoleum alongside his father, King Mohammed V.
The late monarch's eldest son and successor, King Mohammed VI, wept as Hassan's coffin was lowered into the grave. Outside the mausoleum, as many as 2 million Moroccans lined the streets of their capital to pay final respects to the man they knew as king for much, if not all, of their lives.
Hassan body was carried atop an open military vehicle in a carved wooden coffin. The cortege moved slowly through Rabat's main streets, from the royal palace to his final resting place.
Mohammed walked behind his father's coffin, which was covered by a red cloth embroidered with Koran verses in gold.
Thousands poured into the streets behind the procession as it left the grounds of the palace, at times nearly overwhelming security forces who held hands and ringed the cortege, keeping the throngs away from the vehicle.
Earlier, dozens of world leaders filed past Hassan's body at the 18th-century palace, paying tribute to the late king and greeting his successor.
Hassan's funeral was an emotional affair for Moroccans, many of whom held the king in high regard.
"He meant much more to me than a father," said M'hamed Ibourachen. "He did everything for Morocco."
Along the funeral procession's 3-kilometer (2-mile) route, the king's subjects -- many carrying pictures of the dead monarch -- wept, chanted and prayed. Some fainted and were taken away in waiting ambulances. Many had walked dusty roads from distant villages to find prime spots along the route.
"It was a 20-kilometer (12 mile) walk, but we didn't feel the road," said 38-year-old Aziza, from the town of Temara. "We were too shocked with sadness."
They joined Arab leaders King Abdullah of Jordan, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and others to mark the passing of a ruler known for his moderating impact on the world of diplomacy.
Representatives of at least 50 countries were expected to attend the funeral, which was delayed 24 hours to allow time for the world leaders to arrive in Rabat.
Barak, who was expected to hold impromptu meetings with Arab leaders in his new push for peace in the Middle East, was accompanied by President Ezer Weizman and Shimon Peres, a former prime minister and personal friend of Hassan.
Hopes were high that Barak might meet with Syrian President Hafez Assad while in Rabat, but Assad opted to stay in Damascus.
After 38 years as Morroco's sovereign, Hassan was the Arab world's longest-ruling leader when he died of a heart attack on Friday. He was succeeded on the throne within hours by his oldest son.
Sources said King Mohammed VI was secretly married Friday night, in keeping with Moroccan and Islamic custom. Mohammed's bride was not named.
Government officials would not confirm the report, but said it "entered into the logic of the rules of succession."
Moroccan kings must be physically and mentally fit and married. The late king was married under similar circumstances when his father died in 1961.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel contributed to this report.
Moroccans bid farewell to their king
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