Morocco signs agreement for Amazigh language use in courts

Morocco signs agreement for Amazigh language use in courts
2 min read
27 January, 2022
Despite Morocco's recognition of Tamazight as an official language in Morocco's 2011 constitution, it remains absent from official paperwork, schools, and media.
Moroccan PM Aziz Akhannouch (left) vowed to boost Tamazight's profile during his campaign for election last year [Getty]

Morocco's justice ministry on Tuesday signed a cooperation agreement with an academic institute to begin the integration of the Amazigh language of Tamazight in Moroccan courts.

The justice ministry and the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture signed the agreement in the presence of Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch. The agreement vows to ensure interpretation to and from Tamazight in courtrooms and the adoption of Tamazight as a language for litigation.

"Activating... Tamazight in public life falls within the framework of government priorities for action, in our belief that the Amazigh language and culture should be given the place they deserve in building national identity," Akhannouch said during the event.

The new agreement came as part of a project from Akhannouch's cabinet to boost the presence of the Amazigh language in public institutions. The project has a budget of MAD 200 million ($21.4 million) for this year.

Tamazight was recognised as an official language in the 2011 constitution, but its use is limited to signs on public buildings, while administrative paperwork, media, and school programmes are still mostly in French and Arabic.

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The Amazigh people - who make up more than a quarter of Morocco's population, according to official statistics -  hoped that Akhannouch's leadership would end their marginalisation. But Amazigh activists say Akhannouch has fallen short on issues affecting the community, and accuse him of using the Amazigh cause for an election victory last year.

Born in an Amazigh village near Agadir, Akhannouch built his political identity and his party’s electoral programme on tackling issues impacting the minority community.

However, he did not declare the Amazigh new year as a paid public holiday and has failed to amend the real-time Amazigh translation in parliament.

The government needs to show more clarity and urgency regarding its Tamazight-related projects, Amazigh activist Abdellah Badou told The New Arab.

"We don't expect much from the current government, as it was satisfied with allocating a meager fund to activate the official character of the Tamazight language without bothering to explain the modalities and areas of exchange or the outlines of its government programme," Badou said.

Badou said it was important to engage Amazigh activists in future programmes to integrate the language into schools and media systems.