amazigh language – Liby Amazigh Sun, 13 Mar 2022 01:44:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 amazigh language – Liby Amazigh 32 32 Amazigh tattoos are fading, is it too late to revive them? Wed, 09 Feb 2022 11:42:17 +0000 In ancient Amazigh culture, tattoos are one of the many ways people celebrate their rich North African tribal history.

When crossing traditionally Amazigh areas in North Africa, you may encounter road signs written in the Amazigh language. Amazigh symbols are easily identifiable, however, to the untrained eye they may just look like simple line drawings with randomly placed dots and dashes. The best way to tell if you’ve reached an Amazigh utopia is to find a group of older women adorned with geometric face tattoos.

Why just old people, you ask? Like many indigenous cultures around the world, the Amazigh culture is fading into the background of the rapidly developing countries of North Africa – and its supposedly permanent tattoos are fading with it.

“Tattoos in Amazigh cultures have been incredibly important. For women, they had spiritual and healing abilities, often related to fertility. It is also said that many women adorned themselves with facial tattoos when the French colonized North Africa, making them ‘unattractive’ to the lustful eyes of French soldiers”

Tattoos in Amazigh cultures have been incredibly important. For women, they had spiritual and healing abilities, often related to fertility. Many women are also said to have adorned themselves with facial tattoos when the French colonized North Africa, making them “unattractive” to the lustful eyes of French soldiers.

Ironically, some women appreciated tattoos simply because of their beauty. Tattoos on men were generally more functional and “served for healing purposes”, although men’s skin was usually left undecorated.

This isn’t just disappointing news for tattoo lovers. It symbolizes the closing of doors to a rich but poorly documented world, a world where low literacy rates were complemented by art that told stories passed down from generation to generation.

An Amazigh girl with her hands painted with henna in the Ourika Valley [Getty Images]

Several factors contribute to the decrease in the number of Amazigh facial tattoos. The most important is undoubtedly the popularization of Islam in the Amazigh communities. Indigenous Amazigh languages ​​began to spread in North Africa around 2000 BCE. It was more than 2,500 years later that Islam was introduced and spread to all regions.

But the modern Islamization of countries like Morocco only happened much later. In 1979, after the Iranian revolution, Middle Easterners influenced by the conservative Muslim Salafist branch began to roam Morocco, teaching and converting communities to the orthodox and traditionalist Islamic sect.

Tattoos were considered haram and prohibited, and women were strongly encouraged to wear the hijab. These new religious regulations transformed what Islam looked like to Amazighs in Morocco. Before, the two cultures could live and prosper simultaneously. Now the Amazighs had to choose a side.

Like Morocco, Algeria lives with its latest generation of tattooed Amazigh women. The rise of Islamic rhetoric is also held responsible for the disappearance of facial tattoos in Amazigh-Algeria. As more and more Algerians began to read and understand Arabic, tattoos became generally considered haram.

Social pressures have also pushed tattoos back. Moroccan culture despises body modification. While older women with Amazigh face tattoos are respected and seen as gentle reminders of the old world, younger women are strongly discouraged from getting tattoos of any kind, especially on the face.

An Amazigh woman carrying a basket on her head in the Djemaa El Fna (Jemaa el-Fnaa) market in Marrakech, Morocco, circa 1950 [Getty Images]

Nationalism and the importance of belonging to a country – and not to a small 4,000-year-old community – have disintegrated Amazigh culture and traditions. Today, the Imazighens of today are not only Amazighs, they are also Moroccans, Algerians, etc. The natural desire to belong has slowly driven younger Amazigh generations to immerse themselves in their country’s dominant nationalist traditions and sentiments, leaving their roots in a dark corner to fend for themselves.

In reality, the values ​​and ideologies of Amazigh life could not be more relevant today. Along with language and kinship, “the centrality of the land” is one of the most important values ​​that have gone through the Islamization and nationalization of regions of Amazigh origin.

The Amazigh land and nature do more than provide food, water and shelter. The tall palm trees and jagged mountains serve to physically and metaphorically protect what little Amazigh culture they have left.

In a world full of congested streets and polluted atmospheres, the heartfelt respect the Amazigh have for their land is truly heartwarming. They were able to maintain the fertility of the soil and the flow of the rivers for generations. Hopefully recent environmental developments don’t punish those who have worked so hard to preserve their precious cultural oases.

Looking at the soft, wrinkled face of an old Amazigh woman, it’s hard not to get a little sentimental. His eyes are kind. The tattoos running down her forehead and chin have become faded and undefined, but they are still undeniably striking.

In the West, face tattoos are considered scary and intense, but hers are uplifting. They tell the story of a young woman drawn into a world that no longer justifies the symbols that made her fertile, protected and beautiful in a time of colonization, Islamization and urbanization.

How must she feel knowing that her children and grandchildren cannot, will not be, marked with the same lines, dots and dashes that have given her so much strength during this difficult time?

Yasmina Achlim is a Moroccan-American freelance writer who loves good vegan food, living mindfully, and dressing sustainably.

Moroccan official says restoring relations with Spain needs a lot of clarity – Middle East Monitor Fri, 21 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000

Morocco believes that restoring relations with Spain needs a lot of clarity, government spokesman Mustapha Baitas said in remarks to the media after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

“With regard to Spain… King Mohammed VI underlined, last August, the importance of strategic relations between Rabat and Madrid… two years ago, the King also set the benchmark for the external relations of our countries with a group of countries in two main principles: ambition and clarity. “, said Baitas.

“The ambition is there and Spain has expressed it, but for the ambition to be strengthened we need a lot of clarity,” he added.

The position of the Moroccan government comes days after the King of Spain, Felipe VI, stressed the importance of redefining relations between his country and Morocco on stronger and more solid pillars.

Moroccan Organization for Human Rights: the issue of the Amazigh language does not meet expectations

In May last year, Morocco recalled Karima Benyaich, its ambassador to Spain, for consultation after news broke that Spain was sheltering Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali.

The decision by senior Spanish officials to allow Ghali to stay in a hospital in Spain angered Morocco, which described the move as going against the spirit of partnership and cooperation between the two countries.

The diplomatic crisis between the two countries escalated further in May, when at least 6,000 migrants reached the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from neighboring Morocco, angering Madrid.

At the time, Spanish officials said most of the migrants came from Morocco.

A long battle for acceptance for Morocco’s Amazigh community Wed, 12 Jan 2022 19:16:27 +0000 For decades, Morocco’s Amazigh community has advocated for official recognition of the new year as an official paid holiday, a symbolic recognition of the indigenous identity they hope to gain under the leadership of Amazigh Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

Every year, Morocco’s Amazigh community is on hot coals ahead of Idh Yennayer, the Amazigh New Year, as they hope for a last-minute official recognition of the indigenous holiday as a paid national holiday – a symbolic move the community has advocated for decades.

“The recognition of Idh Yennayer is an essential step for Moroccans to come to terms with their history and cultural identity,” said Abellah Badou, former head of the executive office of the Amazigh Network for Citizenship in Morocco. The New Arab.

“This would help strengthen their sense of belonging to the homeland and strengthen the values ​​of pluralism, cultural diversity and coexistence, especially since the Amazigh community has been marginalized and discriminated against over the past decades,” Badou added.

“The recognition of Idh Yennayer is an essential step for Moroccans to reconcile with their history and their cultural identity”

950 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, the first day of the Amazigh calendar falls on January 13 each year. Other Amazigh communities in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Egypt begin Yennayer celebrations on January 12.

Historians are also divided on the origin of Idh Yennayer between those who believe that the choice of January 13 symbolizes the celebration of land and agriculture, and those who say the day is a commemoration of the Berber king Chachnak on Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II.

A beautiful diverse party

Each year in Morocco, the various Amazigh tribes – numbering more than eight million people out of the country’s 36.9 inhabitants – celebrate the indigenous year with traditional meals and folk music.

“I remember helping my family make couscous and then going to my grandmother’s house to celebrate Yennayer at night while showing off our colorful traditional scarves and dance moves,” said Fadma, 50, who left her Berber village near Agadir to live in the city of Kenitra, where she tries to preserve her identity by partying with her daughters.

“Idh JYnnayer”, “Idh Skas” or “Hakouzah”, the names differ according to the regions and the plates too, which can include the dish “Orkemen”, the porridge “Takla”, “Imshikhen” or “couscous with seven vegetables” – each region has its own preferences.

In the Souss region, for example, the natives celebrate the day with Tagoulla, a kind of mash made from barley or corn, served with a mixture of honey and Argan oil or butter. The plate has become a “taste identity” of the day.

Imazighen (Berbers) wearing traditional clothes celebrate the New Year according to the Imazighen calendar in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria on January 12, 2021

“When I was young, we used to put agormi (date kernels) inside takla porridge before serving it to family members, because it is believed that whoever finds the kernels in eating the hot dish will be the luckiest person in the next year. , Fadma said laughing while stirring the couscous broth.

Tastes, rhythms and dance moves vary between Rif, Sous and Ishelhien but the concept of celebration is the same, commemorating land and identity.

“But we must not forget that Idh Yennayer is more than Tagoulla and folklore – it is a celebration of land, citizens and memory as essential components of multiple national identities and different regions without any exclusions”, said said Amazigh activist Badou.

No more broken promises of recognition

In this Amazigh year 2972, the indigenous community of Morocco had higher hopes of finally obtaining the longed-for recognition after the appointment of the Amazigh politician Aziz Akhannouch as head of the country’s government, following the massive victory of his party the National Rally of Independents (RNI). in the September 8 elections.

Born in a small Moroccan Berber town near Agadir, the 61-year-old businessman built his political identity and his party’s electoral platform on representing the concerns and problems of the Amazigh community, winning the approval indigenous people in the country’s last elections.

Members of the Moroccan Amazigh Berber community sing as they celebrate the Amazigh New Year’s Eve near the parliament in the Moroccan capital, Rabat [Getty Images]

Once in power, the party has repeatedly echoed demands from the indigenous community to recognize Amazigh heritage, language and celebrations, but has so far failed to deliver on its promises.

The long-awaited real-time Amazigh translation during the parliamentary session was suspended, while government spokesman Mustapha Baitass dodged questions from journalists about the lack of official recognition of the Amazigh New Year that the RNI had been promising for a decade .

The country’s former cabinet, led by the Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party, has repeatedly said that recognition of Idh Ynnayer belongs to Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

The biggest victory for Morocco’s indigenous peoples in their decades-long struggle was the recognition of Tamazight – the indigenous Amazigh language – as the country’s official language, following the 2011 constitution.

Released by the palace, the constitution has stifled the Arab Spring protests that have taken the country by storm, with young protesters waving the Moroccan flag alongside the Amazigh flag in massive demonstrations.

“The weak policy of establishing Tamazight as an official language reveals to us that we are facing a great collective “maneuver”, in which all political parties, without exception, have participated to varying degrees, to absorb the anger of the street. Moroccan in February 2011,” added Amazigh activist Badou.

Despite the recognition of the Amazigh language a decade ago, Tamazight is still limited to official signs of public administrations and institutions, while administrative formalities, the media and school curricula are still largely dominated by the French. since the years of colonization.

Nevertheless, with the new year comes new hope, and as the Amazigh community celebrates Yennayer, their struggle for recognition in Morocco persists.

Basma El Atti is New Arab’s correspondent in Morocco

Follow her on Twitter: @elattibasma

After singing in Moroccan dialect, Myriam Fares prepares to sing in Tamazight Tue, 23 Nov 2021 17:09:09 +0000

23 November 2021

Lebanese singer Myriam Fares is about to release a new song that uses the Berber language to sing.

The Lebanese singer revealed, during her intervention in a television program, that she was about to release a new song whose lyrics are in the Amazigh language.

Eleven years ago, Myriam Fares released a song in Moroccan dialect, for which she chose the title “Tallah”, which in the Moroccan dictionary means “away from me”.

As part of her intervention on her new artistic release, the Lebanese singer paid tribute to the Amazighs of the world, whatever their country.

It distinguished the Berbers who settled in the Kingdom of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

She added that she will present a work on Amazigh rhythms, including Amazigh dance, and Amazigh clothing.

In the same context, the spokesperson confirmed that the Amazigh language is very difficult, which will make the song mixed with words from the Moroccan dialect, so that it is easy for everyone to understand.

She revealed that she had already experienced singing on stage in the Berber dialect. She comments that she “did not understand the words”.

She added: “I only understood the content of the song, and this idea came to my mind when I was in the city of Nador, and one night before the concert I decided to memorize an Amazigh song to present it to the public in this city, which includes a large percentage of Amazighs, and after that, I decided that my next album would include an Amazigh song.

Note: The content of this news was written by Al Ain News. He is not expressing an opinion today on Egypt. source cited above.

Bread & Net panel to explore the intersection of digital rights and MENA languages ​​Rising Voices Tue, 23 Nov 2021 11:53:00 +0000

On November 24, 2021, Global Voices, through its Rising Voices initiative, will host an online conversation at this year’s Bread & Net non-conference, featuring digital activists from the MENA region who strive to maintain their mother tongue alive in a challenging digital landscape.

The panel “Exploring the Intersection of Digital Rights and Low-Resource and Minority Languages ​​in the MENA Region” will raise questions about the challenges facing minority, indigenous and low-resource language communities in the MENA region in creating or accessing to digital content in their native language.

We will hear the experiences of three digital minority language activists in the MENA region working with Amazigh, Kurdish and Nubian languages ​​who take a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ approach to ensure their languages ​​are present on the internet by creating content. digital, helping to create tools, as well as training and mentoring other speakers of their language to participate online.

The participating activists are:

  • Anass Sedrati is a founding member of the Moroccan Wikimedia User Group and is active in creating and editing Wikipedia articles in different languages, including the Amazigh language. He was a member of the global team that drafted the Wikimedia 2030 strategy and is currently a member of the charter committee of the Wikimedia movement, which serves as the committee to draft a global constitution for all Wikipedia players around the world.
  • Aso Wahab is an activist, blogger and trainer in the field of digital rights and digital security, member of the Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM) and founder of the Cyber ​​Kurds platform.
  • Doaa Farid is an Egyptian Nubian journalist and founder of Nubian voices initiative, keen to promote the Nubian culture and language in digital media. Through this initiative, Doaa cooperates with all Nubian civil society organizations and institutions to publish stories and blogs on the Internet about their activism.

The session will be moderated by Mariam Abuadas, anthropologist and project manager in the fields of community management and gender equality in the Middle East, in the field and in digital spaces. Mariam is responsible for Arabic translation at Global Voices, she is also the founder of Tatawor, a community NGO in Jordan and Akhbarek, a women-centric media platform that focuses on the intersection between language, freedom of expression and digital rights of Arab women.

Register to attend the event online here. Please note that the session will be conducted in Arabic.

Libyan PM says election law was designed to suit certain people Sat, 20 Nov 2021 19:34:00 +0000

“them to play with the fate of Libya”.

Dbeibah said Libyans are aware of the woes of the dictatorship and that the electoral law controversy adds to the suffering of the people and serves the agenda of local and foreign parties, adding that Libyan justice will not allow the adoption of selective laws because they violate the principles of freedom set out in the constitutional declaration.

“The political isolation and the current exclusion from participation in state building target not only individuals but also the whole of Libyan society. The Libyan Amazighs are an integral part of society and they have the right to demand a constitution that preserves all their The Amazigh language should be taught in all schools and we will order the ministries of education and higher education to s ‘take care of this language by creating university faculties to teach it. said Dbeibah.

He added that orders will be given to the Civil Status Authority to register Amazigh names if they do not violate Islamic Sharia law, adding that the worst that can happen to people is to have their identity erased and being forced to adapt to another culture.

New Moroccan government unveils ambitious social program Mon, 11 Oct 2021 20:32:58 +0000

The new head of government Aziz Akhannouch began his mission by chairing the first ministerial council followed by a presentation of a government program to parliamentarians strongly committed to the social and economic plan.

Akhannouch was appointed head of government after his party won the September 8 elections. He built a parliamentary majority with PAM and Istiqlal and set up a compact government of 24 portfolios.

The program aims to respond to royal directives, recommendations for the implementation of the new development model and includes measures to support economic activity and reduce disparities.

The government is committed to creating 1 million jobs during its five-year term, increasing the participation of women in economic life from 20% to 30%, generalizing social protection and expanding the middle class including in rural areas by further improving the Moroccan education system to rank among the top 60 in the world and allocating $ 100 million to the implementation of the official character of the Amazigh language.

Akhannouch told MPs that the government’s social policy would strive to achieve better targeted social support for the needy by ensuring stable incomes for the poor, the elderly and those with special needs.

Hence the need to complete the unified social register which would make it possible to target the needy and ensure regular financial assistance.

Increasing social protection and generalizing health coverage would put the health system under high demand and this requires reform of public health services, Akhannouch said.

Therefore, the government allocated additional funds to the health sector to finance the reform by increasing the number of health workers, building more health centers and ensuring the availability of health care throughout the kingdom.

The reform of the education system was also highlighted as a priority for the current government, starting with the rehabilitation of teachers while guaranteeing them better starting salaries and better working conditions, Akhannouch said.

On the economic front, the government is committed to promoting the national productive fabric and promoting job creation, particularly in a context where the economy is recovering from the impact of Covid-19.

In this regard, the focus will be on promoting entrepreneurship, rescuing threatened businesses and unlocking investments.

A program to hire people without diplomas in local government will be abolished to employ 25,000 people on two-year contracts and the government will continue the Intelaka program to encourage entrepreneurship among young people through guaranteed loans.

Regarding agriculture, Akhannouch said the Green Generation plan will be implemented with the aim of mobilizing 1 million hectares of additional land.

In application of royal directives, the government has promised to strengthen Morocco’s strategic reserves in terms of food, energy and medicine.

The government would also guarantee a level playing field for all economic operators and ensure a simple administrative procedure to facilitate doing business in the country.

The Moroccan economy is expected to grow by more than 5.5% this year after contracting 6.8% last year under the impact of Covid-19.

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Does the change of government affect religious freedom in Morocco ?, Evangelical Focus Fri, 01 Oct 2021 12:28:48 +0000

The Islamist Party for Justice and Development, in government since 2011, only won a tenth of the 125 deputies it had in the House of Representatives in the elections held in Morocco last September.

With only 13 places, the former main political party will now take a back seat in the opposition. The winner is the liberal Aziz Akhannouch, who got 102 deputies for his National Rally of Independents.

Akhannouch was appointed the new head of government and was tasked by King Mohammed VI to form a new government, with parties that “share the same principles and values”.

For Mustafa Akalay, renowned Moroccan academic figure, art historian and responsible for cultural activities, “the polls have spoken and the people chose a non-denominational government”.

“In these elections, the Justice and Development Party has been severely punished and abandoned by his own electoral base, disappointed by his clumsiness and his ambiguous and double standard speech ”, underlines Akalay.

After a decade with a government controlled by moderate Islamists, who came to power in the middle of the Arab Spring, many Moroccans are eagerly awaiting this new phase.

We are all excited about the political change. This is a new stage which opens in the pursuit of a new model of economic and human development in Morocco, designed by a commission of experts for a period of 15 years, until 2035 ”, explains Akalay.

Akalay thinks that “a new era of reform is looming and there are insights and good intentions for change, such as the election of women mayors in the three main cities: Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech ”.

According to the academic, the population expressed its disappointment “at the chaotic management of cities. [by the government], and the incompetence of its leaders to implement a savage neoliberal economic policy based on the privatization of strategic sectors, favoring the well-to-do classes and punishing the most needy ”.

“They have also limited public recruitments in primary and secondary education, by not publishing public competitions and by introducing revocable private contracts, service provision contracts and not civil servant contracts, opening the door to the dismissal of these precarious employees, ”he adds.

For Akalay, the new government must embody “the establishment of a social state by generalizing social coverage, so that the most vulnerable can benefit from social protection and subsidies that preserve their dignity”.

“Without social justice, there is no democracy. a improving education and health care, as well as the right to decent work, are fundamental social rights enshrined in the 2011 Constitution which must be treated, legislated and implemented without delay ”, underlines Akalay.

The winner of the Moroccan elections, Aziz Akhannouch / Facebook Aziz Akhannouch

In addition, the president of the Amazigh (Berber) World Assembly, Rachid Raha, confirmed that the next Prime Minister has committed to the Amazigh movement to allocate a very large sum of one billion dirhams per yearr (over 95 million euros) for the promotion and development of the Amazigh language and culture.

Previously, the Benkirane government, in the name of an exclusionary and outdated pan-Arabism, had refused to recognize the linguistic and cultural Amazigh identity of the Moroccan population of origin, mainly Berber.

Another area of ​​society for which expectations are also renewed after elections is that of religious diversity.

“Religion is incompatible with politics and should not invade public space, nor shape the masses, but be limited to the private sphere,” Akalay says.

The scholar explains that “religious diversity exists in Morocco with proof of a long-standing presence»In cities like Tangier, where the Franciscan order has existed for eight centuries.

For religious minorities, the change of government should bring “respect for their beliefs and beliefs, that is, freedom of religion and worship, which will promote effective religious diversity and fruitful interreligious dialogue” , he emphasizes.

“We thank Jesus, the Islamists are gone. God answered our prayers and now we have the government we wanted, ”said Imounan, a church planter living in Agadir. Christianity today. “Akhannouch is a businessman. He doesn’t care if you worship the sun or the moon. He won’t chase you, ”said another second-generation Christian.

Spanish news site Protestant digital spoke to a community of Christians in Morocco who “prefer to meet in secret,” and they “have no desire to seek licenses from the Moroccan government. We are always ready to sacrifice our personal interests to serve the interests of the Kingdom of Morocco “.

Nevertheless, they “are very proud because political Islam came out of government through elections and pools and not through coups, as happened in Egypt, Tunisia or Algeria.”

“We consider that the Kingdom of Morocco represents a unique reference in its region, and it is in the process of peaceful transfer of power through elections and law enforcement», Concluded the Moroccan Christians.

Posted in: Evangelical focus – world
– Does the change of government affect religious freedom in Morocco?

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a symbol of Kabyle resistance Mon, 02 Aug 2021 07:12:28 +0000

Lounes Matoub was born on January 24, 1956 in the village of Taourirt Moussa in Kabylia, is a musician, singer-songwriter and Kabyle poet. Militant of the Amazigh identity cause, he made his contribution to the claim and popularization of Amazigh culture and to the struggle for democracy and secularism in Algeria. He is recognized as a great figure of Kabyle song throughout Amazigh territory.

Through his music, he was the spokesperson for the Berber cause, for the defense of the Amazigh language, in constant opposition to the Algerian government, against the Islamist and cultural influence of the Middle East. His songs politicize (Tamazight) and cover a wide variety of subjects, including: the Berber cause, democracy, freedom, religion, love, exile, memory, history, peace and the rights of the man. His style was direct and confrontational.

During the riots of October 1988, Matoub was shot dead by a gendarme (Algerian military). He was hospitalized for two years. In 1989 with his album “L’Ironie du destin” describes his long recovery. And on September 25, 1994, he was kidnapped by the Islamists and sentenced to death. He was released following a large public demonstration in Kabylia during which the Kabyle people threatened “war” against the Islamists.

After having published in 1994, his autobiography entitled Rebelle (Paris: Stock, 1995), on December 6, 1994, Matoub received the Prix Mémoire des mains from Madame Danielle Mitterrand, President of the France Libertés Foundation in Paris, and on March 22, 1995 , the journalist organization SCIJ (Canada) awarded him the Prize for Freedom of Expression, then on December 19, 1995, he received the Tahar Djaout Prize from the Nourredine Abba Foundation at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The prize is named after an Algerian writer murdered by Islamists in 1993.

The bad news of the epidemic spread throughout Kabylia on June 25, 1998, after his assassination, by armed men, killing Matoub, where thousands of angry mourners gathered around the hospital where his body was transported. The crowd shouted “Pouvoir Assassin” (“Government Assassins”). A week of violent riots followed his death.

Twenty-three years later, from his assassination which still remains a mystery, where only the Algerian regime knows the truth, despite this, its political and poetic heritage retains all its subversive power, from generation to generation, and the hope of everything a Kabyle people to defend their identity, their culture and their freedom.

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A new dawn for the Amazigh cause Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:00:00 +0000

This newcomer formed an alliance at the end of 2020 with two political parties that are members of the government majority, the National Rally of Independents (RNI) and the Popular Movement (deputy).

Under the leadership of these two political groups, activists of the Amazigh movement are preparing to participate in the next legislative, regional and municipal elections in Morocco, which are to be held in September.

The objective: to promote the Amazigh cause within government institutions. The Amazigh or Berber ethnic group is located in North Africa, in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. This is a historic decision for the Moroccan Amazigh movement, which is now positioning itself on the political scene after decades of boycotting the elections.

The birth of the forehead

The initiative, which brings together several actors of the Amazigh movement in Morocco – including the lawyer and Amazigh activist Ahmed Ahermouch – is intended as a platform to “widen the space of public debate on the issue of political participation of the Amazigh movement”, reads -on the first press release from the front. In the eyes of its co-founders, the time has come “to open a new front to the Amazigh struggle” and to fight for the demands of the movement within public institutions.

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It is a struggle that began after independence. “The birth of the Amazigh movement is above all a reaction to the exclusion of the Amazigh people since the end of the French protectorate”, explains Mohyi Eddine Hajjaj, national coordinator of FAPA.

“A certain force within the state has succeeded in imposing the doctrine of monism on all levels of Moroccan society, to the detriment of the Amazigh people. Since then, the movement has mobilized in different forms, without being part of the country’s government institutions.

However, several initiatives have been launched in the hope of creating an Amazigh political party, all to no avail. The most emblematic was led by lawyer and writer Ahmed Dgharni (1947-2020).

The Interior Ministry banned its Moroccan Amazigh Democratic Party (PDAM) in 2007, and it was dissolved by the administrative court of Rabat in 2008 for non-compliance with laws governing political parties. They prohibit the creation of parties based on ethnicity. Other initiatives, such as the Tamount party (unity in the Amazigh language) in 2018 or Democratic Change in 2019, were not successful.

“The Amazigh movement called for a boycott of the elections, simply because we were not recognized by the state,” explains an Amazigh activist. “The constitution recognized neither our identity nor our language. We didn’t exist, so voting meant absolutely nothing. The constitution approved in 2011, which recognizes Amazigh as an official language, changed everything.

Progressive benchmark

More than nine years later, the FAPA has broken with its boycott policy advocated by the movement for decades. To achieve this, the front engaged in dialogue with four political parties: the RNI and the member of the government majority, as well as the Authenticity and Modernity Party and Party of Progress and Socialism.

According to the Hajjaj of FAPA, these trainings were chosen on the basis of three main axes.

  • The Amazigh question tops the list of alliance criteria. “It was inconceivable for us to work with a party that would not develop and renew this framework,” he said. The same goes for freedoms and other causes we are working on within the Amazigh movement. “
  • The second axis is organizational.
  • The third is voter turnout. “If we want to change things through institutions, we need to access those institutions. And the main gate goes through the elections, ”continues Hajjaj.

With these political parties, the representatives of the front went straight to the point: “We have repeated over and over again that we are not only coming to defend Amazighism as a language and culture,” says Hajjaj.

“There are also economic and social objectives. The new party wishes to engage in the debate on the new development model of the country, whose special commission, appointed by King Mohammed VI, is expected to produce its report in the coming days. “We have given our opinion on the matter at these meetings,” adds Hajjaj.

Leading the fight in public institutions

After nine months of dialogue with the four political parties, the FAPA finally chose to ally with the RNI and the MP. “Our activists will work in both parties. The choice between the two formations is the responsibility of the regional or local sections of the front, ”explains Hajjaj.

“We are writing history,” said Aziz Akhannouch, president of the RNI and Minister of Agriculture, at the ceremony held last November on the sidelines of the signing of the agreement.

“We are changing ideas and mentalities in relation to the question that unites us all: the Amazigh question. We supported the idea of ​​involving the leaders and symbols of the Amazigh movement in political action and the electoral process so that we can, together, lead this fight within public institutions.

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At a similar ceremony held in December, Mohand Laenser, MP chairman, said that “this step reflects what […] we have always believed, namely that the deputy is open to all Moroccans, and that our defense of the Amazigh question has never been reduced to narrow political or electoral purposes because we consider that this question is an important identity for the Morocco.

This alliance is, in the eyes of the former Minister of the Interior, “a starting point for the implementation of what we aspire to, namely the integration of the Amazigh language into all aspects of public life. “.

Towards an Amazigh New Year party

In an interview with Young Africa in 2019, Akhannouch explained that “the constitution of 2011 requested by His Majesty provides real answers to what is called the Amazigh cause. Unfortunately, the implementing decrees are very late. This needs to be resolved. “

The Constitutional Assembly, a joint parliamentary group of the RNI and the Constitutional Union, tabled a bill on January 13 to declare the Amazigh New Year’s Day, Yennayer – celebrated on January 13 in Morocco – as a paid public holiday, as has been the case in Algeria since 2018.

For their part, the two parliamentary groups of the deputy, in partnership with the FAPA, organized a round table on January 14 on the theme of “the formalization of Amazigh as an institutional issue”. “The Amazigh people have been excluded by political decision. They can only be rehabilitated by a political decision, ”explains Hajjaj. A struggle whose fruits could be reaped in the next elections.

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