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Algeria sets Berber New Year as public holiday

Hundreds of people gather to commemorate the anniversary of the Berber Spring on 20 April 2015 [Menouar Yanes/Youtube]
Hundreds of people gather to commemorate the anniversary of the Berber Spring on 20 April 2015 [Menouar Yanes/Youtube]

The Berber New Year of Yennayer will be recognised as a national holiday in Algeria for the first time on 12 January, it was announced yesterday.

The Council of Ministers met yesterday with President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and issued a statement announcing the new national holiday.

“By offering his best wishes to the Algerian people on the eve of the year 2018, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced his decision to devote Yennayer as a day off and paid as of January 12, the government being responsible for making the appropriate arrangements for this effect.”

Read: Algeria student protests against moves to curb Berber language development

The head of state “urged the government to spare no effort to generalise the teaching and use of Tamazight, in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution” and also instructed the government to accelerate the preparation of the draft law establishing an Algerian Academy of the Amazigh Language, according to the Council’s statement.

The idea behind this latest move is to strengthen “national unity and stability” at a time when the country faces threats from “multiple internal and regional challenges”, the President said.

In the last few weeks, Algeria’s Berber region has witnessed a number of protests after a proposed draft law making the Berber language compulsory in schools across the country was blocked by parliamentarians.

Tamazight was recognised as an official language of Algeria when the Constitution was amended in 2016.

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