Stereotypes overwhelm Morocco’s identity crisis – OpEd – Eurasia Review


There can be no real economic and cultural development without a stable and strong identity. A nation cannot rise up if it is still struggling in the dark ocean of identity crises. This is not a personal opinion, it is a historical fact. Morocco must be honest with itself. We – as a nation – need the state to make a clear statement about who we are. The need for great scientific and historical research, which puts an end to political interference in this matter for good, is very essential. But first, the state must confess. If there is one thing more dangerous than having a critical problem, it is to deny it. And vice versa, the first step in solving a problem is to admit it. If Morocco admits to having an identity crisis, this will pave the way for the academic community to address the issue.

Morocco has three main conflicting identities, each identity has its branches. First, there is the Amazigh identity. It is well protected by history, language, culture, people and science. Lately he has started to have more political support because of the Western Sahara issue. Second, there is the Arab-Islamic identity. It is a complex of modern Arab culture with the Malikite-Sunni version of Islam. Most of the time, this identity is found within Islamic customs and traditions. Still, he can gain more support from Arab media like Aljazeera and Bein Sports, some Moroccan political parties like the Justice and Development Party, and the foreign influence of pan-Arab supporters. Third, there is the French identity. In the last century, Morocco was called Franco-Maroc in Western societies. This identity is mainly represented by the colonialist language and dreams being enlightened. In addition, its presence inside Morocco has a feudal area. French identity is a system for marking Moroccans according to their rank in society. Thus, the French language – as an aspect of French culture – is the main language spoken among the upper classes of Moroccan societies.

The Amazigh identity is broader than Morocco. It is the identity of North Africa. Yet he is overwhelmed by stereotypes. The biggest stereotype is the desired mix between the Amazigh culture and the Tamazight language. Many Moroccans and North Africans are victims of this stereotype. Amazigh culture is bigger than just a language. It is an umbrella that covers history, traditions, food, clothing, behaviors, thoughts, religions, interactions with old nations (Romans, Egyptians, Greeks …), archaeological discoveries, peoples , African roots; and yes, language is also part of this identity. Like any other culture, the Amazigh culture has all the criteria that distinguish a nation from the rest of the world. In other words, a person may not be able to speak Tamazight due to historical political changes, but they are still Amazigh. That is to say that losing a criterion of culture (language) does not mean losing all identity. This gateway is very critical in terms of safeguarding the Amazigh identity. To solve the Amazigh problem, the Imazighen (Moroccans) must start by dealing with this kind of stereotype.

The Arab-Islamic identity is historically proven as a foreign culture. It started inside a very distant continent (Asia), then moved to other geographic areas due to the invasions. This identity – again – is overwhelmed by stereotypes. Most critical for Moroccans is the mix between Islam and Arab culture. Indeed, Islam is part of Arab culture. Almost no one can deny the claim that the Arabs are the people who created this religion (This claim may be a subject of further discussion among scholars.) Yet today Islam is greater than its container. initial. Since its emergence, many cultures have adopted Islam as a religion. So, because Islam is host to these strange cultures, it is shaping itself to embrace its new surroundings. In other words, Islam has converted from its original Arab culture into a new culture. That is, hybrid versions of Islam are part of their new cultures (Hybrid does not mean a different message, but a different way of delivering that message.) Today there is Islam. Iranian, an Islam within the Persian identity. ; Islam-Turkish, an Islam in Turkish identity… In Morocco, we have our Islam-Amazigh. It is a hybrid version in the Moroccan context. Moroccan Amazigh-Islam is different from the original (Arab-Islam) in terms of traditions, yet the message is the same. In short, Morocco can be a Muslim nation without denying its Amazigh identity. Islam and identity are not two contradictory concepts. Even the Islamic message says that Islam is suitable for every moment and every site, and this is further proof of our approach.

Islam – like Judaism – may be part of our Amazigh identity, but what about language? As discussed above, language is a very important criterion of culture. Since Moroccans speak Arabic, then Moroccans must be Arabs. Even if this conclusion is incorrect because of what we have said before “losing a criterion of culture (language) does not mean losing all identity”, this statement itself is debatable: do we speak Arabic? This suspicious question leads us to another stereotype. There are four main languages ​​spoken in Morocco: Tamazight, French, Darija and Arabic. The stereotype considers Darija to be an Arabic dialect, which is wrong. Darija (the mother tongue of the majority of Moroccans) has many crucial linguistic differentiations from Arabic. Only one example will be discussed in this article: Darija and Arabic have two different sentence structures. A sentence in Arabic follows the following pattern: verb + noun + object. Example: أكل أحمد الموزة While the sentence in Darija follows a different pattern: noun + verb + object. Example: حمد كلا لبنانة As you can notice, the examples given provide two different translations of the sentence: Ahmad ate the banana. There are other differentiations in terms of grammar, vocabulary, phonology (the phonology of Darija is very different from Arabic, in fact, it is similar to Tamazight) …

Ironically, with all the linguistic shreds of evidence for the differentiations between Darija and Arabic, it stands to reason that Darija is a dialect of Arabic. The only proof of this statement is the vocabulary. However, this evidence does not pass the test for certainty. Darija borrows its vocabulary from five main sources:

A foreign language English Darija
tamazight Aseṛẓem Window Serjem or Sherjem
French Food Food Cozina
Arab Kabid Liver Kbda
Spanish Semana The week Simana
English Banana Banana Banana

Borrowed vocabulary loses its original linguistic identities once it becomes part of Darija. In other words, the word (semana) in Spanish is not the same as the word (simana) in Darija. Now, these are two different words with different phonological forms, definitions and grammatical rules. In fact (simana) is a translation of the word (semana). Thereafter, the same rule concerns all the vocabulary borrowed from the Arabic context. To sum up, Darija borrows many vocabularies from Arabic as part of a general trend between languages ​​(even Persian has a considerable amount of vocabulary borrowed from Arabic, Arabic itself borrows from others. languages ​​like Hebrew, etc.) However, this vocabulary “loses its initial linguistic identities once it becomes part of Darija”.

Stereotypes are part of this world. They overwhelm the truth to create a deceptive reality. The winners of wars create their stereotypes to obscure their crimes. The ancient invaders created their stereotypes to subdue their subjects. Terrorists and fanatics create their stereotypes to influence more followers. Politicians, media, universities, office workers… all corrupt individuals and institutions generate their stereotypes to keep themselves at the center of society. It is (then) a way of deceiving the people in order to have superiority within society. Maybe we can’t stop stereotypes from spreading. It is another sin that mankind cannot avoid. However, it is our duty to provide the people with the appropriate facilities to fight back. Everyone should be armed with a critical mind. A person who asks a lot of questions, a person who takes nothing for granted, cannot be manipulated.


About Wesley V. Finley

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