Morocco’s Amazigh movement has raised its voice, demanding media fairness and emphasising the need to accelerate the twice-postponed launch of an Amazigh TV channel.
A number of Amazigh organisations demonstrated on Monday (June 22nd) in front of the National Radio and Television Company building to protest continued delays in the launching of an Amazigh-language TV channel. The government has twice failed to meet its own deadlines for the channel’s entry into operation.
Security forces dispersed the protesters and representatives of the Amazigh movement responded by issued a statement.
The Amazigh movement expressed its condemnation of “the injustice, alienation and procrastination which the National Radio and Television Company and authorities in charge of media in Moroccan apply in dealing with Amazigh demands for true justice for Amazighs in national public media.”
“They have continued to hinder and delay the launching of Amazigh TV,” the statement said, concluding with a call for its “immediate launch.”
Moroccan Minister of Communications and government spokesman Khalid Naciri responded by denying any bad intentions on the part of the authorities.
“We are taking the issue seriously,” he said. “The Amazigh TV channel will go on the air. We are in the process of preparing for it, and are in constant contact with the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture and Amazigh movement leaders.”
“We want it to be a quality channel, because we appreciate the Amazighs and believe it is inappropriate to mess with that culture,” Naciri added.
Naciri did not provide a new date for the channel’s launch, but said “it will take time for the channel to broadcast with the same quality as channels 1 and 2, because it requires training reporters and directors.”
Naciri also said there was a need to “correct the Amazigh dialect”.
“I see no reason why the channel cannot go on the air,” said Rachida Binchiekh, a member of the Amazigh TV channel’s technical committee and a member of the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture. “There are no obstacles, either in terms of the language, human resources or logistics, as we have studied those aspects extensively with the Ministry of Communications.”
“Morocco is rich in Amazigh talent,” she added, “but we sense opposition to the idea of launching the channel.”
Amazigh League for Human Rights member and journalist Najib Sifao agrees.
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Speaking to Magharebia, he said the cause of the procrastination was political.
According to him, Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi does not wish to preside over the launching of an Amazigh TV channel because he belongs to a party that is “antagonistic to the Amazigh”.
“Claims that the channel’s launch will happen ‘soon’ are wearing thin,” Sifao said, “because it has been said twice before, when the former Minister of Communications announced it would go on the air in October 2007, and the present minister previously announced the same thing earlier this year in January.”
“It was agreed that the channel would be called ‘The Seventh’, but this name was given to a recently-launched movie channel,” Safao told Magharebia. “We are thus doubtful of how serious the authorities are about the channel project.”