Quotes: 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.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Jan 25 2015 - Oman's Suez subsidiary signs USD37m landfill contractMENAFN
(MENAFN) Suez Environment via its local subsidiary Sita Al Basheer has won a contract to design, build and operate the expansion of the landfill site for five years. The total amount of the contract ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Saudi- Kingdoms economy expected to expand 3.22 this yearArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) DUBAI: Cheap oil will slow growth in most Gulf Arab economies this year but heavy spending by governments and healthy private sector activity will prevent any serious slump a ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Egypt awards USD112.04m contract for rail systemMENAFN
(MENAFN) Egyptian National Railways (ENR) said that it has awarded Alstom a USD112.04 million contract for the supplying of signaling equipment for the Beni Suef-Asyut line in Egypt, as well as its ...

 Jan 25 2015 - UAE's inflation hits 6-year high in DecemberMENAFN
(MENAFN) According to the figures released by the United Arab Emirates National Bureau of Statistics, the increase by more than 5 percent in the housing and utility costs led the UAE's inflation rate ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Dubai's Drake & Scull unit wins USD49m contractMENAFN
(MENAFN) Dubai's Drake & Scull International (DSI) said that one of its subsidies won a USD49 million engineering contract in the emirate, Gulf Business reported.Under the signed contract, the ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Dubai's Deyaar net profit down 43 percent in Q4MENAFN
(MENNAFN) Dubai's Deyaar Development said that it has registered a decline by 43 percent in its net profit during the October-December period of 2014, Gulf Business reported.During the fourth quarter ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Renault's GCC sales up 44 percent in 2014MENAFN
(MENAFN) Renault announced that it has registered a 44 percent increase in its sales within the region during 2014, which led by Dubai resulted in the manufacturer selling 23.626 vehicles, Emirates ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Sharjah firm to build solar power plantMENAFN
(MENAFN) Bee'ah, a Sharjah-based waste management company, announced that it is planning to build a solar power plant in the emirate with a capacity to generate more than 20 megawatts, Emirates 24/7 ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Bahraini JBG invest USD2.44m on expansion in GCCMENAFN
(MENAFN) Bahrain-based Jawad Business Group (JBG) announced that it was planning to expand its business in the UAE and the GCC by opening 10 new stores this year, with an investment of over USD2.44 ...

 Jan 25 2015 - Dubai Arabtec wins USD152m contractsMENAFN
(MENAFN) Dubai's Arabtec Holding announced that it has won two contracts in Abu Dhabi, through its Target Engineering unit, with the contracts having a combined value of USD152.5 million, Emirates ...

more...


 






Google

Internatinal Property Show

 
 

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

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

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
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


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


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help