Tamazight an official language, a political lie!

The Moroccan monarchy has promoted Tamazight as an official language since 2011. By repeating this political lie, most Amazigh have come to believe in it  naively or pretend to believe by interest. Some of the most zealous, have even turned into real watchdogs of the new Berber policy of the monarchy initiated by the creation of the IRCAM, bringing with them artists, civil society actors and local activists and some even comming from other parts of North Africa. These are called in to praise the monarchy who has “saved” the berbers and revived the Tifinagh script. The latest example of this voluntary servitude is the commemoration of “the third anniversary of the constitutionalization of the Amazigh language” by an so-called Amazigh  association in Tiznit.

 Article 5, a smokescreen

 The famous Article 5 of the Moroccan constitution recognizes Tamazight as an official language by using a real semantic gymnastics which emptied it of all meaning. If we analysis this article,  we realize that this language will always have a secondary place within a State that recognise itself first as Arab-Muslim. This article says: “The Arabic remains the official language of the State The State works for the protection and development of the Arabic language, as well as promoting its use. Similarly, Tamazigh is an official language of the state, as the common heritage of all Moroccans without exception. An organic law defines the process of implementation of the official character of the language, and the manner of its integration into education and in the priority fields of public life, this to enable it to fulfill its function as an official language. ”


As we have just seen, Arabic remains the official language. Therefore, it will be protected and developed. Its use will be promoted. The Amazigh is an official language of the state, but (be careful) as a common heritage to all Moroccans without exception. It is noted that:


1 – The two official languages ​​are separated and processed in distinct paragraphs. First the  Arab and Tamazight thereafter. This suggests a hierarchical relationship between the two languages ​​and also a difference between the speakers, being the close link between language and identity.


2 – Tamazight does not challenge the supremacy of Arabic. It appears as an “addition” to a fundamental: “Arabic is the official language of the state.”


3 – The Amazigh language is an “official language” as “a common heritage of all Moroccans.” This notion of “common heritage” is also problematic. The goal is to kill the Amazigh community, to dissolve the Amazigh people in Arabism. The Berbers have the right to that language, as an heritage but not as a community or as a people. Through this concept, the state tends to exclude any recognition of the rights of minorities or linguistic or territorial communities or even linguistic rights of individuals. Tamazight is not the property of Amazigh who have no particular right to their own language, but a common heritage of the “Moroccan nation.” Thereof that nation who want so-called  “united” refuses to recognize its ethno-linguistic components. Recognizing  linguistic specificity to certain regions for example leads to enshrine by law a Berber / Arabic distinction, thereby adversely affect the linguistic and cultural unity of “the nation.” The political and legal implications of such recognition are considerable. Behind this approach is emerging clearly the “specter of a Berbersecession” rooted in the ideologico-political universe of the North African countries since the 1930s with the so-called “Berber Dahir” or “the Berber crisis “in the Algerian nationalist movement of the 40s.


4 – The Kingdom of Morocco (…) reaffirms the following and engages therein: “Deepening the sense of belonging to the Arab-Islamic Ummah (nation, ed), and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and solidarity with its brothers people “. And then in another paragraph in the preamble: “The Kingdom of Morocco intends to preserve, in its fullness and diversity, its national identity, one and indivisible. its unity forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamic, Amazigh and Sahara-Hassani, has nourished and enriched itself from its African, Andalusian, Jewish and Mediterranean influences”. Speaking of “dimensions of the Moroccan identity”, there is a total lack of timing, knowing that the Amazigh is the first element. It is the foundation of the North African identity, not just one component. This simplistic definition also relegated to the dustbin our African origins.


5 – An organic law defines the process of implementation of the official character of the language.


Conditionality is introduced here with all the political uncertainties that may follow and also a reserve on the application of this officiality. This law could undermine the principle affirmed. It is unclear when-does-this organic law will emerge. We are still waiting, almost three years after the constitutionality.

Slight differences …

 What new and spesial does that Article 5 of the Moroccan Constitution provides compared to what exists in other north african states? In the Algerian constitution, we read in Article 3: “Arabic is the national and official language.” Art 3a: “Tamazight is also the national language.The State works at its promotion and development in all its linguistic varieties in use on the national territory.”.


The Tunisian constitution promulgated January 17 of 2014 is very clear. From his first article, it states: “Tunisia is a free independent and sovereign state, Islam is the religion, Arabic is the language and the Republic is its regime. It is not possible to amend this article.  “On the concept of ” common heritage”, the same principle is also expressed in the Algerian constitution (Article 3a): ” It is the language of all Algerians.”

An interesting article also appears in the preamble to the Algerian constitution: “Algeria is a land of Islam, part of the Great Arab Maghreb, Arab land, Mediterranean and African country …”


Note that the ideological basis for the three states is the same: arabo-islamism, a toxic and genocidal ideology.


Political exploitation.


The only who benefit of this lie of the constitutionalization is the Moroccan state, and this is certainly not the Amazighity. This truncated recognition is beneficial in many respects to the monarchy who profits to improve its image and anchor its legitimacy. The monarchy now looks like a force favorable to the Amazighity, a shield protecting Imazighen in against arabo-islamic political parties hostile to everything Amazigh. This recognition was required by Mohamed VI while these formations were opposed to any recognition. Some associations and actors of the Amazigh Movement have taken the bait. They applauded and also took advantage of the situation by what they had been amply rewarded.


Since this “constitutionalization”, Rabat has become the destination of all the “Berberists” of North Africa and even from the Diaspora. People come to “relax”, visit the new premises of IRCAM and shop some Tifinagh books published by IRCAM and which they offer fro free because they can not sell them. The monarchy even tends to sell its business model of the Amazigh question to other countries such as Libya. We saw the Libyans adopt hastily the Tifinagh-IRCAM without any locale debate to decide the script to use. This script, politically imposed by Mohamed VI himself, is legitimized by its official recognition. Taking advantage of this “opening in regard to the Amazighity”, Rabat even intervene in matters affecting Imazighen in the first place, as we have seen with the MNLA, and give lessons to other states.


On the ground, nothing new!


The constitutionalization and the communication deployed for three years by the state through its media, IRCAM and its affiliated and subsidized associations brought their fruits. The message is simple: “Tamazight is official thanks the king.” The lanhuage is taught. Imazighen have televisions. Master courses were opened in universities. Amazigh culture is recognized. In short: Everything is fine.


But on the ground, it is all a lie. Tamazight is not official. No regulatory law defining “the process of implementation of the official character of the language” has emerged until now. The situation of the teaching of this language is catastrophic. It is in decline. Tamazight is only folklore on TV. It struggles to find its way into the media, public administartions and law courts. Amazigh names are still banned. Imazighen suffer from apartheid in their own country. They are colonized. Their lands are stolen and distributed to state clerks. And this is not the constitutionalization of the language, or official recognition or IRCAM that will free them from this situation. The problem goes deeper. The remedy must be radical.


A. Azergui

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