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Morocco is slow to recognize the Amazigh year as a public holiday

Courtesy of Reuters
Saturday, 16 January 2021 – 21:23

Achievement – Morocco is slowly moving towards recognizing the start of the Amazigh year as a public holiday.

On January 13 of each year, the voices of the Berbers of Morocco rise to make this day when they celebrate the Amazigh New Year a public holiday.

Most Moroccans have celebrated this occasion since ancient times and prepared special dishes there according to the goodness of the terroir of each region, and the question was tied in most of their minds to the agricultural calendar and the seasons. However, a number of Berbers also consider the day to be linked to historical events in which the Chechen Amazigh King triumphed over Pharaonic King Ramses III in 950 BC.

As for the Berbers of Algeria, they celebrate the occasion on January 12.

There are no precise statistics on the number of Berber speakers in Morocco, but an unofficial study group indicates that they constitute around half of the population of over 36 million people, according to statistics from 2020.

And some research and studies attribute the lack of an accurate census of the number of Berbers to the fusion of Arab and Berber elements throughout history, forming the mixed Moroccan human being, whose roots are also in other races. such as Africa, Andalusia and Jew, as stipulated in the Moroccan constitution revised in 2011.

The Berbers call on Morocco to make the Amazigh year 2971 a public holiday, as approved by the Algerian state at the end of 2017.

“The Amazigh movement calls for a review of the planning of vacations and public holidays in Morocco,” Amazigh activist Munir Kaji told Reuters.

He added that the Berbers consider this “as a requirement of identity … it is a celebration of the land and of the culture and the Amazigh civilization”.

Morocco recognized the rights of the Amazighs, including the teaching of their language and the recognition of it as the official language of the country, in addition to the Arabic language in the 2011 constitution, by assigning a royal institute to research on Amazigh culture, as well as establishing an Amazigh language. TV channel.

“The Amazigh movement has a long life in the peaceful struggle,” Kaji said, referring to the arrest of an Amazigh activist in Rashidiya in southern Morocco in 1994 for carrying a sign written in Berber, so that these letters “now occupy the fronts.” official state institutions.”

“The question of the demarcation of Tamazight is only a question of time,” he added.

Religious controversy

What perhaps accentuates the insistence of Amazigh militants on the official request for the holidays is the opposition of certain Islamic currents and their positions which have gone so far as to prohibit these celebrations, by refusing them the character of heritage and identity.

And Salafist Sheikh Hasan El Kettani posted a controversial article on his Facebook page, in which he said: “As I have stated on numerous occasions, Muslim scholars have stipulated that it is forbidden to celebrate any pre-Islamic festival of Jahili, Arab, Berber, Persian, European or other.”

And Moroccan justice had previously condemned El Kettani in the context of the Casablanca suicide attacks in 2003, considering that he and a number of symbols of the Moroccan Salafist movement bear the moral responsibility for fueling terrorism.

A number of activists on social media condemned El Kettani’s statements, saying they were rejected and fueled conflicts between Moroccans.

Last Friday’s sermon was dedicated in some Moroccan mosques to celebrate the Amazigh New Year, seeing it as part of Moroccan tradition, heritage and identity.

Lahcen Skanfal said in a sermon broadcast by Channel One: “As long as the celebration does not contradict a doctrine, a total legal decision or a general ethical principle, it is permitted, and from this celebration of the Amazigh New Year it is linked to an agricultural question, so the family ties and people rejoice in this good and they ask God to bless them”.

Amazigh activist Adel Adasco says the Amazigh New Year “was celebrated automatically by parents and grandparents, and they believe it is a celebration of the goodness of the earth and an occasion for praise and recognition of blessings. of God on them ”. It is a protection for this ancient heritage and the link of the Amazigh and Moroccan peoples with the land.

He added to Reuters that this celebration “has a characteristic that leaves a person more connected to their homeland and to their land.”

Adasco, the coordinator of the (Amazigh Youth of Tamesna), who works to hold annual celebrations of the Amazigh Year in public spaces, which the authorities have banned this year due to the health emergency linked to the pandemic de Corona, said: “It is a celebration of historical heritage and not a religious ideological occasion, and whoever denies it, it prohibits the introduction of joy and joy. For souls”.

As for the Moroccan expert in political sociology, Mohamed Mesbah declared: “There is almost a consensus on the recognition of the Amazigh New Year“.

“The Prime Minister’s message congratulating the Amazigh New Year is recognition and part of a natural progression,” Mesbah, who heads the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis, told Reuters. The idea has become more prominent and present.

Many thanks to the Courtesy of Reuters

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