The World Amazigh Congress denounces anti-Amazigh racism in Morocco

The World Amazigh Congress lambasted Morocco’s prime minister for exploiting Amazigh identity as a folkloric facade to score political points for his party while treating indigenous culture as a subculture vis-a-vis Arab identity .

“Mr. Akhannouch shows once again that he and his government (…) ignore and even fight the indigenous culture of this country,” the Amazigh Congress said. [Getty]

The Moroccan government harbors “dangerous racism against the Amazigh community” in the kingdom, the World Amazigh Congress (CMA) said in a recent press release.

“The overall observation is that apart from promises without an agenda, no significant measure has been taken in favor of the recognition and respect of the rights of the Amazighs”, added the international NGO based in Paris.

The National Rally of Independents (RNI), the current ruling party in Morocco, owes its victory in the September 8 elections mainly to the support of the Amazigh community.

Amazigh politician Aziz Akhannouch, Moroccan Prime Minister and leader of the RNI, has relied heavily on his political identity and his party’s electoral promises to confront the concerns and problems of the indigenous community.

Yet once in power, Akhannouch and his party fell short.

In January, Akhannouch’s cabinet did not recognize Idh Yennayer, the Amazigh New Year, as a paid national holiday – which would have been a symbolic recognition of Amazigh identity.

Real-time Amazigh translations are also on hold during the parliamentary session.

The CMA also criticized the absence of Tamazight in Moroccan administrative papers such as passports and identity documents, despite the recognition of Tamazight as an official language in Morocco a decade ago. The administrative formalities, the media and the school programs in Morocco are still largely dominated by the French language since the time of colonization.

“In other words, the government condones the violation of Moroccan laws and maintains serious state racism against Tamazight,” the Amazigh Congress said.

In its statement, the Amazigh Congress blasted Akhannouch for using Amazigh identity as a folkloric front for his party while treating indigenous culture as a subculture of Arab identity.

After a historic triumph for Morocco’s women’s soccer team, Akhannouch tweeted on July 14 congratulating the team on qualifying, “it’s the first Arab team to qualify for the World Cup.”

“By calling the Moroccan team ‘Arab’, Mr. Akhannouch shows once again that he and his government, like the previous ones (…) ignore and even fight the indigenous culture of this country”, wrote the congress internationally on July 30.

Advocacy by the Moroccan Amazigh community for official recognition of the language, holidays and heritage has been going on for decades, with the movement growing alongside each new executive administration.

Activists have petitioned King Mohammed VI, demanding more rights in a country where they make up more than 26.7% of the population.

The most significant victory that Morocco’s natives won in their decades-long struggle was the recognition of Tamazight – the indigenous Amazigh language – as the country’s official language, following the 2011 constitution.

Issued by the palace, the constitution quashed a brewing uprising in the country, with young protesters waving the Moroccan flag alongside the Amazigh flag in massive demonstrations.

Abdellah Badou, a Moroccan Amazigh activist, argues that the 2011 constitution was a collective maneuver by Morocco’s political elite to appease the anger of indigenous peoples.

“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 participated to varying degrees, to absorb the anger of the Moroccan street in February 2011 “said the Amazigh. activist added in a statement to The New Arab.

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