Thus, the wind of time buried the taboo of being an Amazigh in Morocco, for good. Today, the Amazigh language, culture and music reappear in the forefront of Moroccan public scene, not having to leave ever again. It needed a tireless push of the Moroccan Amazigh movement that resisted a half-a-century flood of Arabization and demolition of the language. Now its script, Tifinagh, can already be seen on highway traffic signals, in the institutions, in the media and business advertisements.

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Thus, the wind of time buried the taboo of being an Amazigh in Morocco, for good. Today, the Amazigh language, culture and music reappear in the forefront of Moroccan public scene, not having to leave ever again. It needed a tireless push of the Moroccan Amazigh movement that resisted a half-a-century flood of Arabization and demolition of the language. Now its script, Tifinagh, can already be seen on highway traffic signals, in the institutions, in the media and business advertisements.

Moreover, in the capital, Rabat, an imposing building surrounded by wide esplanades called the Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture in Morocco IRCAM, French acronym illuminates, as if it were a lighthouse, an identity with its own language and culture. The light that emerges from the place contrasts with the dark memories of a flood of victims at the hands of the Hassan II regime after years of struggle of the Amazigh movement.

His son, Mohamed VI, since his enthronement, tries to right some of the wrongs of its predecessor through innovative proposals that have given back the visibility to the Amazigh movement. However, the activists from the Moroccan Amazigh movement fear that the integration of the Amazigh demands, starting with the creation of the IRCAM, will only serve as an instrument to monopolize the identity to better control Amazigh activism, depoliticize it, and delay the institutionalization of the language.

Even though it is included and recognized in the new constitution, just like Arabic, its implementation has been slowed down. His words deflated the outburst of the Amazigh activists and intellectuals who, a year ago, had knocked on the gates of the Palace with a document: the Amazigh Manifesto, which demanded the national and legal recognition of the Amazigh identity.

She is from a generation that did not know the dark and tense years that the Amazigh movement suffered. It must be for this reason that today she lives her identity with the normality of any other young person from her culture, who feels Moroccan Amazigh first, and then, if anything, African.

His publicly-expressed will to listen to the requests of the Amazigh movement, always in mutation between political action and cultural activism, encouraged an identity that has been buried for decades.

Diversity was considered a threat to social cohesion in the eyes of the centralizing French-Jacobin current that its former colony, Morocco, imitates. The shelves and walls of his office, on the second floor of the IRCAM headquarters, are covered with numerous posters, slogans and books on the Amazigh identity.

However, this huge arsenal of written material was not making any sense without the direction of guiding individuals: with this literature under their belts, more than 14, teachers have been trained in the Amazigh language, who in turn have also made an essential contribution to the scientific production on their identity in the fields of poetry, pedagogy or anthropology. Arabic as a centralizing vision It was unthinkable, years ago, to seat at a table that carried the weight of Amazigh documents, which writer Ahmed Assid shows with pride.

Each one of them constitutes the diversity of a country inhabited by Muslim Arabs, Jewish Arabs, and Muslim and secular Amazighs. Morocco is all of these and more: currently other sub-Saharan African identities from Christian and Muslim denominations of faith are added up to a purely cosmopolitan landscape. Islam was born after a revelation in Arabic, from God to the prophet Muhammad, the propellant of a new identity which created a new configuration of the historical scenery.

At that time, the Amazighs already existed. And that was also the time of their debacle. This way, it would be palatable for the central power. These statistics were quickly reversed after years of struggle by the State to make the Arabic language reign in national education —the foundation of every society. It was such a kick on the Amazigh language that it ended up being spoken only within the family, and sometimes not even that. Those who oppressed were the Arabs, and the victims were the Imazighen the plural of Amazigh who demanded social and economic changes, as well as recognition of their identity.

The story of the brutality is a part of the oral memory that has been inherited from grandparents to parents and children. They were raped! That is what divided our people! And this, despite the fact that the cultivation of cannabis, hidden between the valleys and mountains of the Rif, pleases the vaults of the State. Morocco is the second largest exporter of hashish in the world, after Afghanistan.

Half a century after those mobilizations, the wounds of the past were reopened when the security forces intervened to repress the demonstrations that erupted at the end of Protests arose out of the death of a young fishmonger, Mohcine Fikri.

The victim was carrying tons of swordfish —fishing was not allowed during that time of the year—, the authorities confiscated the fish, and then ordered it to be destroyed. The merchandise was thrown away to a rubbish truck, and, to protest, the young Riffian launched himself onto the vehicle while its crusher was still working. His death was the first spark that triggered a subsequent popular fire that lasted more than one year, during which young people demanded installation of new infrastructures, a hospital and a university.

The security apparatus put that popular fire out and did not leave any stronghold of popular anger. The leaders of the movement were taken to the prison, serving sentences up to 20 years in prison for attacking the security of the State, and dozens of Riffian activists received warnings from the security forces not to end up in a similar fate.

To the south, on a mount of the Moroccan High Atlas, a city was born. It is called Alebban, the name coined by more than 8, Amazighs who are established there. A set of white stones can be made out towards the inner part of the reddish sand mountain —converted into a bastion of the resistance of a particular movement led by young people since Because the water is used for the richest silver mine in the whole Africa that is operated by a private company together with its main shareholder: the State.

And in whose hands the income from the silver end up? This is the question that the inhabitants of the Imider commune pose again and again. Silence to this question mobilized them in an unprecedented protest where the youngest put a backpack on their shoulder, climbed to the mountain, and little by little raised a parallel state.

It was a huge yet revolutionary project in the field of social mobilization. From the mountain peak, the young people denounce the unequal distribution and the harmful environmental effects that the exploitation of the mine produces in the surroundings. Also, in terms of pollution, the effects of the mine are catastrophic. Animals die and fresh water is contaminated. An Imider movement protest calling for the release of the detainees and a trial for the SMI, the company that exploits the mine.

Moha M. However, unlike the Rif region, the authorities have not engaged in any scuffle with the camp-mobilization. It seems that they do not bother since it is an Amazigh hole that barely makes an international noise.

A similar demand exists among the local farmers located in the region of Agadir, in southern Morocco. Their land contains what is known to Europe as liquid gold argan oil , an inexhaustible source of natural wealth that the Amazighs do not always exploit. Numerous families have been forced to abandon their lands, which have been sold to the capitalist giant. The history repeats itself. Their place, located in the centre of Rabat, hosts the first community radio that calls up the rights —or rather the non-existing-rights— of the Amazigh women, who face the same challenges as the Arab women: access to work and physical integrity.

Patriarchy goes through the borders and, on the same axis, goes through the identities without any exception. The majority of popular social movements has ended up reinforcing the defence of identity. Raha is always recognized for his looks, a blue turban accompanies him in every meeting of the movement. And his office, which is turned into a neighbourhood museum-library, is already a part of the Amazigh historical index. A room reserved for the elaboration of the only newspaper in Morocco that contemplates four pages in Amazigh language; another room assigned for holding press conferences with the lively and colourful Amazigh flag on an untainted white wall as background, and a last room where the books that evoke any aspect of the Amazigh movement are registered.

Raha lives a life brandishing the cause of the fight against racial discrimination that revealed in a report made in and in which it was asked whether or not the Kingdom of Morocco acted in a racist way regarding native Amazigh populations.

Not only Arab Springs In the new Constitution recognized the Amazigh language for the first time, the zenith of the popular mobilization. A new paradigm was opened among the Amazigh people. The constitutional text came in a regional context in which the peoples of North Africa mobilized to demand more rights and freedom. The effects did not take long to land in Morocco through the February 20 Movement, to which the Amazighs from the north and the south also joined, in order to claim social and economic reforms.

In these mobilizations the flags, symbols or ethnic groups did not speak. And what this implies for the Amazigh people is: the recognition of their culture and language. This is reflected in the 5th article of the Constitution in two paragraphs, which Rachid Raha emphasizes with a yellow marker. It is already written, now it needs to be applied. After eight years, the Moroccan parliament continues to delay the approval of the statute law that obligates all levels of the State to institutionalize the Amazigh language.


Fact check: Ahmed Assid makes false claims about coronavirus, misleads Moroccans

TUNIS - With mosques shut, schools closed and many cities in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, the influence of Islamists has clearly dwindled in North Africa despite their attempts of Salafists at exploiting the dire situation to their advantage. In an effort to stay relevant during the global crisis, Salafists called for demonstrations defying curfews in Morocco and Tunisia. Moroccan Islamist preacher Abdelhamid Abou Naim said the closure of mosques went against the precepts of Islam and that the state should not have the authority to shut them down. A radical Islamist with an Egyptian accent put out a video message urging people who had contracted coronavirus to intentionally infect state officers as revenge for counterterror operations. For secular intellectuals and progressive Islamic scholars, the virus further exposed the emptiness of fundamentalist ideas and countries are acting quickly to counteract their message. Many said they hope the deep socio-economic problems exposed by the crisis, such as inadequate health care and extremist ideologies, will be addressed by the state after the pandemic is brought under control.


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