Despite Morocco’s recognition of Tamazight as an official language in Morocco’s 2011 constitution, it remains absent from official documents, schools and the media.
Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch (left) pledged to raise the profile of Tamazight during his election campaign last year [Getty]
The Moroccan Ministry of Justice on Tuesday signed a cooperation agreement with a university institute to begin the integration of the Amazigh language of Tamazight in Moroccan courts.
The Ministry of Justice and the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture signed the agreement in the presence of Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch. The agreement promises to ensure interpretation to and from Tamazight in courtrooms and the adoption of Tamazight as the language for litigation.
“The activation… of Tamazight in public life is part of the government’s priorities for action, in our conviction that the Amazigh language and culture must have the place they deserve in the construction of the national identity,” Akhannouch said at the event.
The new agreement is part of a project by Akhannouch’s cabinet to strengthen the presence of the Amazigh language in public institutions. The project has a budget of 200 million MAD (21.4 million dollars) for this year.
Tamazight was recognized as an official language in the 2011 constitution, but its use is limited to signs on public buildings, while administrative documents, media and school curricula are still mostly in French and Arabic.
The Amazigh people – who make up more than a quarter of Morocco’s population, according to official statistics – hoped that Akhannouch’s leadership would end their marginalization. But Amazigh activists say Akhannouch has failed to address issues affecting the community and accuse him of using the Amazigh cause for an election victory last year.
Born in an Amazigh village near Agadir, Akhannouch built his political identity and party platform by tackling issues affecting the minority community.
However, he did not declare the Amazigh New Year as a paid holiday and did not change the Amazigh translation in real time in parliament.
Government needs to show more clarity and urgency on its Tamazight-related plans, says Amazigh activist Abdellah Badou The New Arab.
“We do not expect much from the current government, which has contented itself with allocating meager funds to activate the official character of the Tamazight language without bothering to explain the modalities and areas of exchange or outlines of his government program,” Badou said. said.
Badou said it was important to involve Amazigh activists in future programs aimed at integrating the language into schools and media systems.