The founders of Tunisia’s emerging AKAL party say the time has come to rehabilitate the Tamazight language and identity of the country’s indigenous people, who have been marginalized for decades.
The word “Akal”, which means land in the Tamazight language, has a fundamental meaning for the cultural movement that has just been born. During this week, the founders of the Akal movement decided to engage in political work by creating a party; a project that is still awaiting official authorization from the authorities. The vision and presentation of the movement revolves around the principle of secularism and civic work, essentially promoting Tamazight culture and identity.
Samir Al-Nefzi, leader of the emerging Akal party, said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) that “there have been calls for recognition of the Tamazight identity and language; however, all of these requests were denied on the grounds of fears of discrimination. However, the Amazighs have appeared to the public since the revolution, and a wave of desire to embrace Amazigh culture intensified after 2011.
Al-Nefzi commented on the transformation of the movement into a political party saying, “There are many active associations on the ground these days, so we wanted to diversify the experience from the stage of cultural activism to action politics and claiming rights to take responsibility. .”
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Most of the founders and members of the movement belong to the younger generations, including university students. As such, the leader of the Akal party is a doctoral student in criminal sciences in Japan. The party does not differ in its economic and social demands from other opposition parties, including the promotion of marginalized Tamazight areas.
The founders of the Akal party are particularly concerned by several acts enacted in the current constitution, which emphasizes Arab and Islamic identity without any reference to the other components of Tunisian culture, including Tamazight. The party also criticized the civil status law which prohibits the use of non-Arabic names for newborn babies.
Historically, the Amazighs of Tunisia have been seen as active fighters who resisted invaders and colonizers, including their resistance against Arab Muslims when they invaded the country in the 7th century, leading to centuries of Arabization processes. .
There are no official figures on the number of Amazighs in Tunisia today, but most of them still live in desert villages near the mountains in the south of the country. Most of them have kept their houses excavated in the hills, which are a must-visit tourist destination in Tunisia.