Quotes: US MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Morocco Berbers struggle to be heard despite nod to language  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 02/12/2013
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Morocco's indigenous Berber people, descendants of North Africa's pre-Arab inhabitants, are struggling to make their voices heard despite their ancient Amazigh language winning official recognition in 2011 after decades of campaigning.

The sweeping Arab Spring protests that erupted that year brought hopes of empowerment for the region's traditionally marginalised Berber communities.

Morocco's King Mohamed VI introduced a new constitution in response to the social unrest, which acknowledged Amazigh as an official language of the state alongside Arabic, a major achievement for a tongue that was once banned in schools.

The constitution, which requires "organic" legislation to implement its proposals, calls for the language's integration in teaching and other "priority areas."

"But what has been done since then?" asks Ahmed Boukous, director of IRCAM, the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture, which was founded in 2001 and spearheaded the campaign to have the language recognised.

Morocco's coalition government, led by the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD), "announced in its political programme that organic laws relating to Amazigh would be enacted. But we're still waiting," Boukous lamented.

Morocco hosts the largest population of Berbers, who live in scattered communities across North Africa, with a census taken 10 years ago showing that 8.4 million Moroccans spoke an Amazigh dialect daily, or around a quarter of the population.

But the language is for the most part spoken only in rural pockets of the country, even though a good majority of Moroccans are thought to have Berber ethnic origins.

Some accuse the ruling Islamist party of resisting any challenges to the supremacy of Arabic, the language of the Koran.

"Unfortunately, we're dealing with a party which had already stated during its election campaign that it was very lukewarm (about promoting Amazigh)," said Ahmed Arehmouch, who coordinates the National Federation of Amazigh Associations.

"So we're not particularly surprised about the current situation."

Parties like the PJD "have a religious reference" and "Arabic remains for them the only official language," Arehmouch said.

Government spokesman Mustapha Khalfi, himself a member of the Islamist party, denied those claims when contacted by AFP.

He said a ministerial commission chaired by the prime minister would begin work on elaborating the organic law for Berbers from next month.

'Political establishment is Amazighophobic'

Tifinagh, the distinctive Amazigh alphabet, is now a familiar sight on Moroccan public buildings and official documents, usually alongside Arabic and French.

In June, politicians and activists welcomed a government minister's unprecedented decision to speak the indigenous tongue in parliament, in response to a question asked by an opposition MP in Amazigh.

And back in January 2010, Morocco's state broadcaster launched Tamazight, a Berber-language television channel.

But IRCAM's Ahmed Boukous says that nearly three years after the TV station started up, the quality of its programmes is poor, while the teaching of Amazigh in public schools "has paradoxically regressed."

"We have to be realistic and deal with this progressively. There are certain key sectors, such as education, the media, culture, local government, the judiciary, where we need action."

Mounir Kejii, another Berber activist, says the problem is in the minds of Morocco's ruling elite.

"We still have a political establishment that is Amazighophobic," he charged.

The ongoing difficulty Berber parents face in giving their children traditional names is cited as a clear example of this alleged suppression of Amazigh culture.

Such names include Anir, meaning star of the morning in Amazigh, Tilila, meaning joy, or Sifaw, meaning flame.

"Those who want to give Amazigh first names to their children are welcome to do so," said Abdelouahad Ourzik, who heads the legal affairs department at the interior ministry.

A list of names drawn up in the 1990s banning Berber names was scrapped 10 years ago.

But since January 2012, Arehmouch says there have been at least 22 disputes over the naming of Berber children, in Morocco and in consulates abroad.

Ourzik says there can be "difficulties of interpretation" in the thousands of public offices around the country tasked with registering children's names, but he insisted there were public procedures that "protect against the abuse of power."

The parents can take their case to an independent commission, and then to court, if necessary.

But Arehmouch says they must be "really determined."

In the Rabat suburb of Tamara, Mohamed Idrissi explained how he struggled with officialdom over the name of his son, born in 2007, whom he decided to call Anir.

"When I went to the registry office ... they got out a list and told me: 'Sorry, but we can't register that name.' It ruined our celebrations," he recalled.

The family got their way in the end, but only after three months of campaigning. They called their second son Anas, which is used in both Arabic and Amazigh.


 






  MENA News Headlines
 Aug 28 2014 - Ebola virus diseaseDemocratic Republic of CongoMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) GENEVA Switzerland August 27 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Disease outbreak news Epidemiology and surveillance On 26 August 2014 the Ministry of Health Democratic ...

 Aug 28 2014 - Ebola virus disease updateWest AfricaMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) GENEVA Switzerland August 28 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Epidemiology and surveillance • The total number of probable and confirmed cases in the current outbreak of ...

 Aug 28 2014 - Arrowstorm Entertainment Launches Kickstarter for New Fantasy EpicThe Christmas DragonMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) The Christmas DragonArrowstorm Entertainment offers advance DVDs and Blu-rays of upcoming film The Christmas Dragon via Kickstarter promising the world "a new Christmas classic."Salt ...

 Aug 28 2014 - 21st Century Television Discusses Transition to Cloud Computing with Spin SystemsMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) August 28 2014 - Boca Raton Florida — Although cloud systems have become increasingly more common and more secure there are still a number of companies who feel hesitant about ...

 Aug 28 2014 - DIGITAL COMEDY SERIES LAUNCHES INDIEGOGO TO RAISE FUNDS FOR SEASON 2MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Devil's Couriers Parodies Sons of Anarchy in a Unique FormatLos Angeles CALIFORNIA AUG 28 2014 – Sons of Anarchy. The very name conjures up visions of Harleys guns biker chics ...

 Aug 28 2014 - 21st Century Television Welcomes Guest to Discuss Information Governance and Data Management airing on August 31 2014MENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Bishop Technologies Inc. to appear on 21st Century Television.August 28 2014 - Boca Raton Florida - In the digital age companies are being expected to govern and manage an ever ...

 Aug 28 2014 - Air2G2s State of the Art Technology for Golf Course Management Discussed on 21st Century TelevisionMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Revolutionary Turf Aeration Process for Golf Courses.Boca Raton FL – August 28 2014 — For golf course owners superintendants and groundskeepers keeping a well maintained ...

 Aug 28 2014 - Eight Killed As Vehicle Falls into DrainQatar News Agency
Eight persons were today killed and three others injured when a vehicle skidded off the road and rolled down into a drain in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir, India's News (PTI) ...

 Aug 28 2014 - AfricaBeauties.com Proves that a Strong Woman is a Desirable WomanMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) Love Knows no Boundaries!Many members of premium international dating site AfricaBeauties.com regard vitality as one of the most desirable qualities in a partner. While international ...

 Aug 28 2014 - KnowBe4 Says Employee PC Wreaks Havoc in JP Morgan HackMENAFN Press
(MENAFN Press) JP Morgan Chase HackedJP Morgan banking giant hit by data breach in a feat far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers.Tampa Bay FL — The Wall Street Journal reported ...

more...


 






Google

Taqs

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help