Morocco adopts law confirming Berber as official language

The Amazigh flag — a red emblem set against thick yellow, blue and green horizontal stripes — has featured strongly in protests in Berber regions. (File/Reuters)
Updated 11 June 2019

Morocco adopts law confirming Berber as official language

RABAT: Moroccan lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill that confirms the Berber language’s official status, eight years after it was preliminarily recognized in a new constitution.
The new law is designed to cement use of Berber — alongside Arabic — by government administration, local authorities, public services, schools and in cultural life.
Berber, or Amazigh, was initially recognized as an official language in 2011, after a decades-long battle by activists.
The kingdom has struggled to cement the language’s status, despite it being the mother tongue of a large part of the population.
The new law will “operationalize the official status of Amazigh ... preserving the language and protecting cultural heritage,” said Culture Minister Mohamed Laaraj after the vote, which took place late on Monday.
But a prominent Berber activist and intellectual said the law does not go far enough.
“It is not what most Amazigh were waiting for — this law remains vague, it does not say that Amazigh must be taught or used by the media,” Mohamed Assid told AFP.
“We demand a conceptual change for equality between the two official languages. But it is not the case — discrimination continues with this law,” he lamented.
According to a 2004 census, eight million people — a quarter of Morocco’s population — speak one of the three Berber dialects every day.
One of the most notable consequences of giving the language official status has been the appearance of the Berbers’ tifinagh alphabet on public buildings, alongside Arabic and French.
Since 2010, a state TV channel, Tamazight TV, has been promoting Amazigh culture.
A few years ago, lawmakers caused a sensation by speaking Berber in parliament.
Moroccan administrators have sporadically refused to write Berber first names in civil registries.
The Amazigh flag — a red emblem set against thick yellow, blue and green horizontal stripes — has featured strongly in protests in Berber regions, including in the periodically restive northern Rif.


Israel records highest single-day virus tally

Updated 10 July 2020

Israel records highest single-day virus tally

  • Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon”
  • Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns

JERUSALEM: Israel has recorded its highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed in the most recent daily count, the health ministry said Friday.
Israel had won early praise for its virus containment efforts, but cases have surged since a broad re-opening began in May.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted in a late Thursday news conference that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon.”
“I take responsibility for it,” he told reporters.
From midnight (2100 GMT) on Wednesday to midnight on Thursday, the health ministry registered 1,504 new coronavirus infections — the highest single-day tally since Israel confirmed its first case on February 21.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 36,000 cases, including 351 deaths.
Various restrictions have been re-imposed, including the closure of venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
Limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants and places of worship have also been reinstated.
Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns.
Israel’s director of public health services, Siegal Sadetzki, resigned this week, blasting her superiors for ignoring her advice and steering Israel’s virus response off course.
“Despite repeated warnings in different forums, we are watching with frustration as our window of opportunity (to contain the virus) is running out,” Sadetzki said in a Facebook post announcing her resignation.