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Amazigh World Congress accuses Morocco of maintaining racist policies  

Women carrying a Moroccan (L) and an Amazigh flag (R) and flashing the three-finger Amazigh symbol during a sit-in on March 2, 2012 [ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]
Women carrying a Moroccan (L) and an Amazigh flag (R) and flashing the three-finger Amazigh symbol during a sit-in on March 2, 2012 [ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

The Amazigh World Congress (CMA) has slammed the Moroccan government for "maintaining dangerous state racism against Amazigh" – the indigenous ethnic people of North Africa.

In a recent press release from late last month, the CMA criticised the current government under Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, who is of Amazigh origin, over its "support for the violation of Moroccan laws, and the preservation of state racism against the Amazigh".

The statement cited the government's failure to include the Amazigh language on the new electronic identity card, in spite of the language's official recognition over a decade ago. The communique also slammed Akhannouch for using the Amazigh identity as "folkloric" for political purposes, while treating the indigenous culture as a sub-culture of Arab identity.

"The anti-Amazigh policy in Morocco has been accompanied in recent years by the emergence of a new current of pseudo-nationalist ideas, which promote "Moroccanity" or "tameghrabit", erected into an ideology which simply aims to drown the Amazighity, land, history, civilization, indigenous language and culture of this country, in triumphant Arabism," the statement stressed.

"It is a new strategy that aims to hide and flout the rights of the Amazighs as indigenous people of Morocco and other Tamazgha countries and to continue the spoliations in particular of their ancestral collective lands and their wealth."

READ: Moroccan human rights organisation: Amazigh language issue does not live up to expectations

The CMA also noted that "even the expected symbolic gesture of official recognition of Yennayer, the Amazigh New Year's Day, as a national holiday has not been made." In January, the Minister of Culture announced that "there is a government discussion about adopting the Amazigh New Year as an official holiday, and we are waiting for the Prime Minister's decision."

However, Mohamed El-Simo, a parliamentary representative for the National Rally of Independents in the House of Representatives has dismissed the claims made by the CMA as "untrue".

The government "has attached great importance to the Amazigh language and began implementing its commitments on the ground in public administrations, institutions and courts," El-Simo told Moroccan news website Hespress, adding that "In just seven months, this government provided Amazigh what others have not done in five years."

The government "will not retreat from its commitments, despite the difficult situation we are living in," added the parliament official, expressing that "The Prime Minister affirms in all our meetings with him that the government gives priority to Amazigh, and emphasizes the rehabilitation of it."

In May it was reported that the Moroccan authorities had begun introducing the Amazigh language into institutions such as parliament and public administrations.

READ: Morocco parliament uses simultaneous interpretation into Berber for the first time

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