For years, Morocco’s Amazigh community pressed for the consitutionalisation of the Amazigh language. King Mohammed VI’s pledge to implement comprehensive reforms instilled hope that their dream might soon come true.
In his March 9th speech, the Moroccan sovereign emphasised “the rich, variegated yet unified character of the Moroccan identity, including the Amazigh component as a core element and common asset belonging to all Moroccans”.
“The speech prompts the legal framework to promote the Amazigh culture,” Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture (IRCAM) director Ahmed Boukous told Magharebia. “Making the Amazigh language part of the constitution means for us the development and provision of legal protection for the Amazigh culture.”
Others, however, caution that it’s too early to believe the king’s words and urge patience to see the content of the constitution, which will be proposed by the consultative commission set up by the king.
“The royal speech brings about a positive step, and we hope that it will be followed by a series of important steps, especially the literal texts about the fact that the Amazigh language is an official language,” Amazigh League of Human Rights chief Boubaker Ounghir told Magharebia.
“We hope that the constitutional revision commission will take into account the legitimate demands of the Amazigh movement,” he said.
Ounghir, however, complained that the determination “came late for the fact that this demand was adopted years ago by some international organisations such as the Human Rights Council, with the aim to restore the value of the cultural and linguistic dimensions of Tamazight.”
To discuss the issue, a number of Amazigh activists gathered March 12th-13th in Agadir.
According to researcher and member of Amazigh Observatory for Rights and Freedoms (OADL) Meryem Demnati, the activists fear that the Amazigh identity will be relegated to the second order after the constitutional reforms.
“For us, the word identity must be included, but what matters most is that the Amazigh language must be an official language as well as Arabic, not just a simple national language in the constitution,” she said.
If the committee only focuses on the Amazigh identity and not on making their language official, it will be “dangerous”, according to Amazigh researcher and activist Ahmed Assid.
“It means that the Amazigh movement will boycott the referendum,” he threatened.
The community is preparing a document with proposals that concern the constitutional reform of the Amazigh language as well as regionalisation to submit to the commission, according to Amazigh activist Mohamed Moussaoui. Activists are also lobbying by forming groups that will be in charge of contacting political parties and non-governmental organisations to explain their position.By Imrane Binoual in Casablanca and Naoufel Cherkaoui in Rabat for Magharebia