Sahrawi in France

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Originally, the Sahrawi were desert nomads who traveled from place to place with their camels. A sub-group of the Moors, they are of mixed Berber, Arab, and black African descent. All speak an Arabic dialect called Hassaniya. In addition, their religion, way of life, and dress are Arabic in flavor and style.

By the 1300s, the Arabs ruled the region, causing conflict with the Berbers until the end of the 1600s. The Sahrawi are descendants of these two groups and their slaves. Until 1904 when Spain gained control, the Sahrawis were threatened by Morocco's desire to annex the Western Sahara region. Since Spain's withdrawal in 1976, many Sahrawi have fled to Algerian refugee camps, returned to the deserts, or joined the Polisario, which continues to demand independence from Morocco. Others have made their way into European countries like Spain and France in hopes of finding peace and prosperity.

Where Are they Located?

France's Sahrawi population is mostly in Paris and Marseilles.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Along with their normal work schedules, the Sahrawis are trying to convince the French majority to be sympathetic to the situation faced by Western Sahara where the Sahrawis are in a state of low-level war with the Moroccans. Towards this end, the Sahrawis have started an excellent football (soccer) team that is winning matches, and speaking out for their countrymen in Western Sahara.

The Saharawi people are Muslims who believe our spiritual needs are found in Islam. Muslims are not often open to hearing about the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
What Are Their Beliefs?

When the original Berbers were conquered by the Arabs, many fled to the desert, while others were assimilated. All of them, however, accepted the Arab Muslim religion with open hearts. As they embraced their new faith, they carried it with them on their nomadic journeys. Despite their devotion, however, the Berbers retained many of their traditional beliefs. To this day, West African Islam, with its mixture of beliefs, is more tolerant of diversity than Islam elsewhere.

While some pre-Islamic beliefs still exist among the Sahrawis, they like to think of themselves as pure Muslims. Like most North African groups, there are some beliefs that certain dead Muslim teachers have a power that can be accessed for healing through pilgrimage to their grave sites. Some scholars have mentioned that the Sahrawis also worship a god known as Sidi Erbbi, who is paternal and full of life.

What Are Their Needs?

The Sahrawis need the chance to be transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is extremely difficult in West Africa, but they can hear of Jesus in France where there is relative freedom of religion.

Prayer Points

Pray for effective, evangelistic tools to be translated into the Sahrawi language.
Ask the Holy Spirit to supernaturally reveal Jesus as the way to true peace.
Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Sahrawi towards the gospel message.
Pray that God will save key leaders among the Sahrawi who will boldly declare the lordship of Jesus.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Sahrawi people.

Scripture Prayers for the Sahrawi in France.


Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Sahrawi
People Name in Country Sahrawi
Pronunciation sah-RAH-wee
Alternate Names Delim; Delim Bedouin; Saharawi
Population this Country 15,000
Population all Countries 470,000
Total Countries 5
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 14639
ROP3 Code 108512
ROP25 Code 307117
ROP25 Name Saharawi
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
Map of Sahrawi in France
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Hassaniyya (15,000 speakers)
Language Code mey   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Hassaniyya (15,000 speakers)
Language Code mey   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Hassaniyya
Photo Source EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: Joshua Project, Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Keith Carey 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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