The Berber Manifesto
(1 March 2000)
(Translator’s Note: This English translation is based essentially upon the Arabic original. However, a few departures have been made following the modifications and addenda contained in the French version written by the author. For the sake of clarity, many words, phrases and sentence fragments were italicized by the translator)
Morocco, thanks be to God, is coming out of the situation in which it found itself ever since it threw off the yoke of colonialism. This situation has come about due the rush of the political, religious and economic “elites” on positions of control and decision-making (in both the political and economic spheres), at the time of the take-over of powers from the foreigners’ hands. As the competition over the holding of these positions, since its inception, has exacerbated passions, it turned out into a perverted game in which the players resorted to making outrageous claims, to ruse, intrigue, and even to violence and murder.
No doubt that the historical period in question (few days after independence) required all this and that the limited social and cultural maturity of the “elites”, then, lied behind the aforementioned behavior and their enthusiasm to fulfil their aspirations and covetousness. However, the harm inflicted upon the nation by these conflicts -involving shortsighted, ambitious and irresponsible politicians – the dire consequences of which were not taken into consideration, is a harm akin a severe wound the healing of which we are all contributing to nowadays.
Thanks to the majority of the Moroccan people’s will and that of a high-minded young Monarch with grand designs and high aspirations, we are about to enter the third millenium through its widest gate, along with all the entrants. We are also resolute about correcting our mistakes one after the other, without any hesitation, embarrassment or fear. The moment is, therefore, auspicious for enthusiastic work and total mobilization, which can channel the energies concealed in the innermost parts of our Moroccan personality. However, enthusiasm and mobilization oftentimes prevent one from taking a deep look into the state of affairs. For this reason, it is incumbent upon us, in trying to make amends for our mistakes of the past 40 years, to first draw up an exact list of them and then methodically categorize them. In so-doing, we should not let our preoccupation with current and apparently important events divert our attention and scrutiny away from explosive and conflict-generating “pulsations” which have been deliberately driven back into the depths of our national subconscious.
Examining the period that we are focusing upon, at this juncture, requires courage and lucidity. For the diagnosis of our ills ought to be part of a strategic vision of our future, a vision characterized with far-sightedness. Such a vision must be devoid of any narrow individual interests, sensitivity, let alone spite and envy. Therefore, the minds of people charged with this mission must be totally free of any dream-engrossed ideology. Furthermore, the main dimensions of our national identity must be taken into consideration.
It is only through the adoption of this vision that every Moroccan, aware of the requirements of citizenship in its modern acceptation, will realize that there is a national question that commands high attention. It has to do with the denial – conscious or unconscious – of the “Amazighity” of Morocco (i.e. its Berberity”), something which mortgages our future. The utmost importance of this question would be missed only by those of us who do like the ostrich -which hides its head in the sand – or who delude themselves into believing that its resolution consists in putting off any general public debate about it indefinitely.
Concerning this question, professional politicians and most members of the “elites” – who have arrogated to themselves monopolistic rights to “patriotism” and to “political action,” since 1956 – have relentlessly and insistently urged the Moroccan people to keep silent about it. The same people have done likewise, in the not too distant past, about the existence of abject poverty in Morocco, the spread of corruption and “clientelism” , and the devising of numerous means of arbitrariness and denial of rights. However, we the signatories of this manifesto, have elected to dare bring out to the fore this taboo subject and place it on the table so that it be discussed at length. In so-doing, we are fulfilling a sacred national duty towards our country, expecting to see its future clear and devoid of any turbidity.
The question is very delicate; moreover, all its particulars (i.e. ins and outs) are in need of clarification and their interaction requires scrutinizing. Therefore, in this preamble, we seek to expose it in its wider framework and within its historical context. Indeed, knowledge of this latter will shed light on many an event, thereby enabling the general public to understand our present state of affairs by grasping the truths from our past. These truths, our collective memory has shunned looking for and all sorts of well orchestrated vested interests propaganda – buried in political, religious or pseudo scientific discourse – has sheltered from the apprehension of the minds. This question, we do not want to keep aside as it had been decade after decade all through-out the past forty years of the ” independence era“. It has to do with the semi-official and undeclared denial of the “Timmuzgha” (or “Berberity”) of Morocco – that is its Amazighe (or Berber) dimension. This Berberity has a great importance for our Moroccan and Maghrebian identity and its continued denial will, very likely, have dire consequences.
“Timmuzgha” (Berberity) has been defrauded of its right in many a domain for nearly half a century. This happened during the colonial era because its struggle against colonialism continued and ended only after this latter was driven away. Yet, colonialism entertained the preposterous idea to make of it (i.e Berberity) a docile and servile ally. It took place during the “era of freedom and independence” because the political forces which denied its existence were the ones that took over exclusive possession of the economic and moral means necessary for making decisions. Thus, they conditioned the mass media and oriented the educational system according to their wishes, taking advantage of the goodwill of the Amazighes (i.e. the “Berbers”, as these forces refer to them). This goodwill stems from the mutual trust between all Moroccans who care for their country – which was strengthened by the patriots‘ political uprising against European colonialism. The aforementioned defrauding also happened during this latter period which goes from the early 1930’s to 1955.
In order to enable people to understand every course of action taken for what it truly was, we must examine the historical event(s) which preceded it and the historical situation which prevailed at the time .In the case under study, we have to go back about two centuries in the Moroccan history. This is necessary if we want to reconstruct the political organization of the country. Moreover, we must ask and find answers to the following questions: (a) What is the situation in which Morocco was before 1930?; (b) What were the prevalent balances of powers prior to the occupation of our country by the French and Spanish armies and the imposition of the “Protectorate” regime over us in 1912? In this regard, has not one of the 19th century European wise men said, rightly, the following: “Those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it“? Has not another made this very explicit statement: ” The more a nation would want to explore its future, the farther back it will have to go into its past”?
The time has, thus, come to reveal some truths known by the Amazighes (i.e. Berbers) and other Moroccans, which were officially “muted”. Their bringing out, and public disclosure, at an earlier date were prevented only by the obligation felt by the Amazighes to give the nation enough time to recuperate from the ordeals of colonialism and to its components an opportunity to achieve cohesion on modern civilized bases and supports. It was tacitly assumed, then, that both these bases and supports were going to render fruitful the frank, logically-grounded and conflict-free dialogue that was supposed to have taken place on the Amazighe (i.e. Berber) question. This would have replaced the violent confrontations concerning this question of the olden days.
The above-sketched out attitude on the part of the Amazighes was adopted because the most dreadful thing that we Moroccans fear or ought to fear is that our country returns – and this is always possible – to the situation in which it was before the “Protectorate”, and for a long period. For, among the truths alluded to above is that grounded in the fact that our country, before 1912, was in a deplorable situation, politically, economically and culturally. Indeed, Morocco was in the worst situation in which are found nations exposed to chaos and dissolution. The reason – indeed the main reason lying behind all the others – had to do with the fact that the modes of government and management of public affairs had found their way neither towards improvement and renovation nor to the understanding of the Moroccan nature. This latter has its social specific traits inherited from the Amazighes and the ancient Arabs (whose paths have not strayed because of the “Great Strife” (Al-fitnâ al-kubrâ) [occasioned by the dispute between Mu’âwiyya Ibn Abî Sufyân and ‘Ali Ibn Abî Tâlib over the Caliphate about 661 AD].
Before 1912, there was a marked opposition between two kinds of political traditions. On the one hand, there were the Amazighe political traditions geared towards the managing of the affairs of the “Jama’a” (local community) – whatever the size of this Jama’a may be – through dialogue and consultation. On the other, there were the “Makhzenian” political traditions inherited – in the entire Islamic world – not from the period of Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) , nor from of the Wise Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman, Ali). Rather, they were derived from the Heraclian ruling doctrine of the Omeyyads and the Abbassids’ Khusruan one, which run contrary to the sprit of political consultation prescribed by Islam and lie outside even the ante-Islamic traditions of the Arabs. The veracity of this historical truth, of utmost importance, lies in the fact that a great many political systems in the Islamic world – and especially in the Arab countries – still, to this day, follow the example set by the Omeyyads’ Heraclian and the Abbassids’ Khusruan modes of governing. This is so owing to (a) their strong leaning towards despotism, arbitrary and oppressive rule, and (b) their bent towards showing haughtiness, ostentation and pomp. They have been continuously supported and encouraged to adopt this mode of conduct by legions of flattering and fortune-seeking obsequious “writers” and panegyric “poets”, and legions of adulating parasites, free-loaders and evil courtiers who, in the long run, will only cause prejudice to the ruler who trusts them.
The Moroccan Makhzen has adopted this mode of behavior for centuries. It was steered by those who “could make or break” (i.e “decision-makers”) towards wandering in vicious circles with respect to some affairs, to imitating blindly the Abbassids’ Khusruan ways as concerns others, and to adopting the attitude of Andalusian Arab petty kings regarding still other affairs. The decision makers were “influential people” close to the powers-that- be.
It so happened in our history that one of the greatest and highly educated and cultured Alaouite kings had wised up to this phenomenon and to its consequences; he was the Sultan Moulay Sliman (may Allah have him in His keeping). He has gotten wise to it since he was able to change his view about “Timmuzgha” (Berberity) to the opposite of what it had been only a few months before. This change had come about thanks to the direct contact that he was able to establish in 1235 Heg. (1822 AD), after a military set-back and some tribulations, with some Amazighe leaders who were strongly opposed to the Makhzen’s policy, to whom he listened and with whom he discussed – for days – the affairs of the Moroccan nation. Yet, at the same time, the influential people in the Palace were still keeping to their strategy of concealing truths from him and characterizing the Berbers for him using all sorts of ignominious epithets.
King Moulay Sliman’s view changed head over heels concerning the Amazighe social organizations. He was convinced that the “Berbers” were right in fighting injustice with perseverance and that their opponents in the makhzenian circles were actually the real tyrants and quacks. Moreover, they were the ones who fostered disorder and insecurity through their self-preserving lies and their excesses. Thus, his lively conscious commanded him to enlighten the Moroccan public concerning the Amazighe question and to make clear the essence of the puzzling problem that has prevented the nation from developing and attaining security and stability. To this end, he wrote to the people of Fes, since they were the inhabitants of the capital city at that time and the shapers of general public opinion. He wrote them a letter which is very well known in the history of Morocco but about which the traditional circles have been amnesic. It read as follows: ” Religion is advice, I bear witness. If you want security for yourselves, o people of Fes, enter into a peace pact with Berbers. They have laws and magnanimity that prevent them from being unjust; [moreover], they are sober and content with what is strictly necessary.”
It is as though king Moulay Sliman had discovered – overwhelmed – that the Amazighes are at the opposite end, as regard their natural dispositions, of the component factions of the makhzenian circles, which falsely pretend to be pious and righteous. He voiced his opinion in front of the gathering of the people in the hope that they would heed his advice and change their attitude.
What is known in our history, and which we do not pay attention to oftentimes, is that Moulay Sliman was not so naive as to have illusions that the “influential people“(who could “make or break”) would heed his advice and comprehend its substance. The evidence for this is that it did not take him long, after this declaration, to abdicate. The truth of the matter is that his grievous cry has not had any echo, drawn any attention or been the subject of any discussion or debate; this is in spite of the worsening of the conditions. This is so because the makhzenian circles had limited horizons, culturally and politically. So they were unable to free themselves from the joke of their fixed traditions. They closed themselves in and pursued one goal only: devising schemes for the purpose of exercising dominion and engaging in wealth extortion. For this reason, they used to “empty the cup of their hatred” – all of it – on the “Berbers” precisely because they were the ones who persistently fought against oppression and arbitrariness, thanks to their geographical areas (the mountain ranges) and their adherence to their democratic traditions.
The makhzenian circles used to teach hatred towards anything Amazighe to generation after generation of their off-springs. They also used to record in their literature (for history’s sake!) imaginary exploits, reducing the part played by the “Berbers” in many a domain. Thus, the conflict between them and the Amazighes continued, a conflict destined not to abate ever since it was initiated by the Sultan Moulay Ismail with his well known tyranny. It could not abate because its causes remained what they were (i. e. the same), in spite of the commendable efforts made by the Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah (in the 18th century) and the Sultan Moulay Hassan (in the end of the 19th century).
The conflict continued because the makhzenian mentality would not move one inch away from its blind political traditions based upon dogmatic and tightly closed-up religious thinking. This is so because the desire on the part of the influential people to preserve their privileges was behind the pronouncement of all religious “futya” (formal legal opinions) and pieces of advice [given to the kings].
Conditions after Moulay Sliman’s abdication remained as they were since the Makhzen, pursuant to its heavy Heraclian – Khusruan heritage knew no other modes of organization and management than those based upon resorting to violence, arbitrariness and oppression, whenever it had the chance to muster the striking force to do so. The other mode was the “divide and rule” policy. And this violence and leaning towards destruction and ruin were met with reactive violence, rebellion and confirmation in the belief that the right is for the more powerful not for the more just or the straighter. The situation crystallized into what was referred to as “As-Sîba” (dissidence). And the “Sîba” system (i.e. total disorder) has come to cover the nine tens of the national territory in 1900.
The irony about this state of affairs was that the Moroccans who lived under the aforementioned Sîba system used to see in it salvation – and what salvation!- from the claws of the makhzenian circles. They used to pride themselves for the freedom ensuing from it and to seek to avoid the dangers of the Sîba by returning to their inherited organizational modes, which called for consultation and the establishment of justice and equality. In sharp contrast, however, the makhzen knew no other philosophy of government and communication with the common people than that based upon the sowing of discord and the buying off of people’s consciences. Even when it came to organizing itself and its internal affairs, it knew no other way than taking the courses of scheming and plotting, as was described for it in the political literature inherited from the Omeyyads, the Abbassids and the Arab petty kings of Andalusia.
It is small wonder, then, the situation being such as this, that enervation traveled through the body of the Moroccan nation up to its deepest parts and that our country became an easy prey for invaders on the look out.. Thus, it is no wonder that foreign armies did enter it from its eastern, western and southern parts, just a few years after the advent of the twentieth century. This took place because European colonialism was lying in ambush and only internal quarrels amongst its member States, over the division of the spoils, delayed that entry.
It came to pass that Morocco was put under a “Protectorate“! And the “protector” – in the person of Lyautey particularly – looked for the best aides for him amongst the sons of this country. He found them in no other circles than the makhzenian ones, for they were the ones – and not Morocco as a nation and a country – that sought colonialist protection. They put themselves under the colonialist regime so as to be protected from Moroccans in general, and the “rebellious Berbers” in particular. And they quickly discovered how wonderful was the colonialist “protector” and guardian! Thus, ideologically, they proceeded in synchrony with one another and stood by each other’s side concerning everything.
The “protector” urged the makhzenian circles to hold on to their retrograde mentality claiming that he did so only out of respect for Moroccan traditions and religious beliefs. He also showed them that he respected and honored them, taking advantage of their profound ignorance and their rush for wealth and positions of symbolic influence, positions the effect of which can take place only at the expense of common Moroccans’ interests and rights. Furthermore, he founded special schools for these aides’ off-springs, called “Schools for Notables’ sons“.
Given the nature of the protector’s position and that of these aides in the country, he continuously goaded them against the “rebellious Berbers“. In like manner, they – in turn – continued their policy of exciting enmity against these latter. The two parties went on like this until a pact and alliance between them crystallized, as evidenced by letters with religious connotation which were read in the mosques .Read by imams of first rank, they called upon Moroccans to engage in a ‘ “jihad“(!) geared towards supporting…the occupying (Christian) armies in their fight against the unsubjugated’ ( i.e. the Berbers). Another piece of evidence is that the prominent families of the “makhzenian circles” have taken to the habit of staging celebrations, along with their “protector”, every time this latter managed to defeat militarily an Amazighe tribe.
As for the Amazighes, they thought – honestly – that the mission of armed resistance against the occupiers was entrusted to them, and them alone, as they have always been the natural defenders of the country’s territory. Indeed, they have never felt that there existed a substitute country for them, neither in the eastern or western parts of the Earth. Therefore, they paid a high price for their engagement in armed resistance against colonialist armies as they did not reckon that the invading enemy, this time, had weapons and a warfare preparedness that they could not have imagined. However, they reckoned that the makhzenian circles were undoubtedly bound to abandon them and leave them on a lurch. Thus, they paid a high price – the price of the “protectorate” for the benefit of others – which they had never paid before in their long history. They paid it in many a domain: the political, the economic, the cultural and the spiritual. For instance, the “protector” decided that all the regions populated by the Amazighes would be considered the “non-useful Morocco“, and as such undeserving of any financial assistance. In fact, what ought to be prescribed for it is to reinforce the blockade on it and to subject it to military rule indefinitely.
The Amazighe regions were condemned to programmed marginalization . Moreover, they were made to accomplish any statute labor and yet be deprived of the economic help granted other regions, not even a little of it. This took place because armed struggle had continued, against the occupying forces in the Amazighe regions, for a quarter of a century, with the following sacrifices consented by the Amazighes:
- hundreds of thousands of souls were given up;
- iron chains were locked on the feet of heroes ;
- underground granary holes filled with water were used as prison cells for heroes;
- agriculture and stock farming were devastated;
- houses were destroyed by rockets fired by field guns, tanks and airplanes;
- every fertile land was confiscated ;
- possessions were impounded.
That was the Amazighes’ reward since, as the indignant invaders said: “none of their tribes consented to come to us before it has been defeated by the force of arms”. Yet, the enemy intruder took advantage of the opportunity afforded it by the weakening of determination and the spread of desperation among people to reinforce its armies with courageous soldiers from those which it was fighting a short time before: the Amazighes. They were people whom it impoverished until it stuck them to the ground and forced them to serve as mercenaries for it. It did so intelligently, using their resentment against all those whom they thought abandoned and betrayed them. Moreover, taking advantage of this animosity, the enemy took to goading Moroccans against each other in cities, villages and rural areas. In so-doing, it excited all kinds of feelings of suspicion, envy and hatred.
In the 1940’s, when a group of big cities’ dwellers has attained a certain amount of awareness of national duty and level of political maturity (in its modern sense), the small educated elite of the Amazighes readily, and without any hesitation, joined them (11 January 1944). They supported them and shared their obstinacy in fighting against the colonizer and their suffering of all kinds of torture, imprisonment and humiliation. Likewise, in the 1950’s, no Amazighe youth , who has come in close association with various groups of “nationalists”, hesitated for a moment to enthusiastically volunteer to take up arms against the colonizers and , therefore, join the ranks of the “resistance” in urban centers and the brigades of the “Liberation Army” in the countryside areas. Thus, there should be no harm in reminding the Moroccan people that it was the Amazighes who were the “war material” for that memorable national uprising. For it is this “war material” that has precisely put the enemy on notice that it was, undoubtedly, going to evacuate our land. It was as they did to the Romans, the Vandals, the Byzantine and to others who thought that they had conquered “Tamazgha” (Berberland) and subjugated its people, and hence allowed themselves to use all kind of tyranny.
Then Morocco became independent. However, only a few years had elapsed in the “independence era” when depression started to take hold of the Amazighes minds because of the signs of exclusion which they have noticed looming in the political horizon. Some of them blamed this state of affairs on the autocratic and despotic unique political party of that period. Consequently, they leaned towards the traditional makhzenian circles (in 1957) and accorded them their unconditional support, thinking that they had learned all the valuable lessons from the past and that, this time around, they would treat “Timmuzgha” fairly. Some of them have even joined the “popular forces” that had split up from the autocratic party (in 1959), believing that these latter could guarantee that any rightful claimant would get his/her right.
This was not to be the case, however. Little by little, it became clear that the just treatment of “Timmuzgha” – an essential element of the Moroccan persona – was taken into account neither by the forces of the “political Right” nor those of the “political Left”. This is so because (a) the atavistic former trend was inherently cautious about anything Amazighe, and (b) the latter one has gradually shown that it acted in accordance with what was dictated to it by the “ideologues” of Arab Nationalism. These ideologues had planned – and were intent on carrying out– the elimination of what they called, indiscriminately, the “disturbing minorities“(T.N.: Recall what happened to the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey). By their very existence, these “minorities” stood – in the opinion of the Pan-Arabist ideologues – in the way of achieving the “unity of the Arab people“. Thus, one of the great leaders of the Right wrote (in 1965), in Arabic:
“In the first place, I blame (sic) our Arab ancestors who carried the Islamic call and Arabic to this country. Instead of devoting themselves to the completion of their sacred historical mission, they busied themselves with quarreling about bounty and positions of power. In so-doing, they left in our country this social problem the source of which we can not ignore if we want to diagnose the illness and seek a remedy for it”.
It is as though this rightwing leader was counseling resorting to trickery in order to Arabize the “Berbers”. This is how he could have achieved that which his “ancestors” failed to achieve, be it through force or cleverness. However, he forgot that the Amazighes, too, have ancestors. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the very same leader , very annoyed by the continued presence of the Amazighes back in 1957, raised a very strange question, during one of the meetings of his party’s Executive Board. He said (in Arabic):
“… the evacuation of the French armies, dear brothers, is going to take place necessarily in a few years; the same holds for the Spanish armies. However, our chronic problem is that posed by the Berbers. How are we going to oust them?…”
Likewise, a “great leftist Moroccan thinker” – who strongly supports “Pan-Arab Nationalism” wrote (in Arabic) the following statement in which he highlighted the strategy to be used in order to make up for what had chagrined his rightwing colleague:
“The complete Arabization action must aim (sic) not only to eliminate the French language as a language of civilization, culture and social intercourse, but also – and this is very important – to see to it that the local dialects (be they Berber or Arabic) become defunct…and that the use of any language or dialect – in the school, radio and television – other than standard Arabic be prohibited.”
Other authors – who militate in order to eliminate “Timmuzgha” (in its own land !)– wrote statements in which they took the same ideological stance, whether they did so in a slick or rude way. In so-doing they revealed the Arabists’ dream to bury Tamazight in its own cradle a thousand times wet by Berber blood, in the same way some ante-Islamic Arabs did to their newborn baby girls whom they buried alive. Thus, the Great Maghreb was attributed to the Arabs only as it was named the “Arab Maghreb“. And speakers diligently took pains to publicize this new appellation, whether the occasion called for it or not, in public speaking rallies akin witchcraft working sessions geared to achieve that which nature could not. Arabism became the only characteristic used to define the “Umma” (nation); yet, this was done at the expense of Islam (the other major characterizing source). Therefore, our country, we the Amazighes, has ceased to be the “Islamic West“; rather, it became simply a dominion for the Arabs, who pride themselves for controlling it, as did the French in the not too distant past for possessing that which they referred to as “French Africa“, “French Algeria” and the like.
It has been very clearly noticed, during the past 44 years of the “independence era”, that the successive national governments have pursued the same strategy as that devised by European colonialism , during the equal amount of time that its “protectorate” lasted, as concerns the economic marginalization of the Berber-speaking areas. While the strategy may not have been devised by the pan-Arab “nationalists”, its results did not displease them. This is so because it forced the Amazighes to migrate in hundreds of thousands to areas where Arabization (in the sense of becoming Arab) was very active .Thus they were forced to become Arabized in order to earn their living. Their migration was internal (i. e.; within Morocco) and external ( e. g.; to Libya, the Arab peninsula and even Europe), the latter migration being organized via so-called “training missions“. They have been followed, even in their forced emigration, by “cultural missions” which enjoin them, plainly, to abandon the jargon which serves as their language in favor of Arabic.
In addition, it is a well known fact – for Moroccan public opinion (especially the Amazighe one)- that the holding of public office in a particular ministry was prohibited for the Amazighes for a long time during the “independence era” by tacit arrangement between the officials in charge – a prohibition which was virtually total. To this prohibition should be added the policy of forced retirement – during the 1970’s and the 1980’s – to which were subjected hundreds of high ranking officials (of Berber origin) employed in sensitive fields. This was done even when they had not reached the age of retirement. Following this forced retirement, the ratio of recruitment of the Amazighes in these fields was purposely kept very low.
With the passing of the decades, during the “independence era”, it clearly appeared to the the Amazighes that the people calling hysterically for “total Arabization” on account that Arabic was the language of the Holy Koran, were nothing but swindlers and quacks who lulled the public opinion with their noise in their “public speaking festivals” and with their jesting in “parliamentary” sessions. The reason for all this play-acting was to conceal their real motivation which is to divert the attention of good people while they busy themselves with plundering the country’s resources through various dubious means and smuggling money abroad. In so-doing they have proved that (a) their “nationalism” is interested “pocket nationalism“, and (b) their defense of Arabic was nothing more than a piece of deceit with which they tricked people. They did so in order to allow ample time for their children to master the dominant languages in the world along with useful modern scientific subjects, inside and outside Morocco (in French and American schools). We are ready to debate them on this subject, aided with official statistics, before all Moroccans, if they have the requisite moral courage to engage in such a debate.
During all this time, and precisely starting from the 1960’s groups of Amazighe intellectuals volunteered to create “cultural associations” for the overt purpose of accommodating, through their activities, the resentment of the Berbers and containing their increasing dissatisfaction. They did so out of concern for the country – hence out of patriotism – and so that Morocco does not return to the pre-protectorate conditions, which were characterized by endless conflicts and continuous wars, and to cultural regression deriving from it. In fact, little by little, the number of these cultural associations increased, the scope of their action widened, and their moral influence strengthened. All this took place in spite of (a) their limited resources, (b) the harassment, threats and acts of provocation to which the authorities ( at all levels) have subjected them, and (c) the covertly or overtly declared enmity towards them on the part of fanatically Arabist political parties.
With no illusions concerning the outcome, the Amazighe cultural associations have also tried to raise all the political circles’ awareness about the fact that there is a very important and dangerous question that the future will still bear. Moreover, only the big noise occasioned by political disputes within narrow partisan arenas has prevented the voices drawing attention to its historical and social dimensions from being heard. This question takes its large roots in our distant past and its branches will extend into our future if it is not treated, in the opportune moment, through an approach governed by wisdom and perspicacity.
No heed has been taken, up to now, of the warnings of the Amazighe cultural associations and of their peaceful and civilized discourse calling for the examination of all the issues related to this question. In fact, many “politicians” and “writers”, who fanatically support Arab nationalism, have not hesitated to exalt public opinion –whether in a frank or round-about way – against these associations, claiming that the “Timmuzgha” question is an artificially made-up one. Among them, there were those who appointed themselves as “guardians” over the Amazighes in order to teach them lessons in patriotism and accuse them of collusion with foreign forces hostile towards the country. Furthermore, these self-appointed guardians were oblivious to the fact that their actions only made matters worse because of their bias and their lies, at the same time that they provided incontrovertible proof that the enemies of “Timmuzgha” have always had recourse – and can only resort – to defamation and falsification. Yet, their “party” , the branches of which span the entire political spectrum from the Right to the Left (thanks to the very persuasive power of the petrodollars), managed to get into an alliance – implicit and muted – with the traditional “makhzenian circles“, taking advantage of the hatred of these latter towards the Amazighes, a hatred inherited for centuries, generation after generation.
In 1980, what serves as a “parliament” voted in favor of a bill stipulating the creation of an “Institute for Amazighe Studies“. It was buried, in spite of the positive vote it received. This is so because the ministers in charge, respectively, of education and culture belonged to a political party, and this latter saw that it was unbefitting of it “that the creation of this institute be a blot on its forehead.” Moreover, in 1982, a group of Amazighe intellectuals were arrested, arbitrarily and wrongfully, on a pretext weaker and “more fragile than a spider’s web”. The arrest was prompted by the deed of one of them who “dared” write, in a small journal which they published, the following: “…Amazighe is a language just as Arabic is a language”. They were freed only after a month of illegal detention, humiliating treatment and exemplary punishment and only after the author of the offending article had been brought to trial and sentenced to an effective year in prison. Moreover, the defendant was denied his right for appeal because he declined the offer made to him to be freed in exchange of writing a letter “imploring pardon” following the model letter couched in the humiliating conventional makhzanian style and wording which was shown him.
In 1994, seven Amazighe youth were arrested and were sentenced to jail periods and fines for having done nothing but carry a written banner, during the Labor Day (May 1rst) peaceful demonstration, on which they requested that the Amazighe language be taught in schools. (T.N.: It should be pointed out that this teaching was banned since independence, in 1956). The arrest provoked the resentment of all the Amazighes. However, they prevailed upon themselves not to increase the provoked tension, thanks to the endeavor of the cultural associations which continuously called for preserving calm and composure and for favoring the amicable approach and assigning it more weight.
In the course of the same year (1994), King Hassan II (may Allah cover him with His grace) realized that concern for the original tongue (in this case Tamazight) is one of the national duties. The evidence for this is that he took up the subject in his speech of August 20th, one of the days during which every Moroccan must probe the depth of the emotional attachment that bonds him/her to his/her country. Thus, he ( may he be covered with Allah’s mercy) ordered that Tamazight (i. e.; the Berber language) be taught in schools. However, the wonder of wonders is that his order – for the first time in his long reign – was not executed and remained merely “ink on paper” and with no effect. This is reminiscent of the fate reserved to the advice which King Moulay Sliman gave solemnly before the people of Fes nearly two centuries before (See above): it, too, was nothing but a “sermon in the desert.”
It has clearly appeared today that the cultural associations have used up their energies to contain the exasperation of the Amazighes, an exasperation stemming from the injustice that has befallen them – and is still befalling them- in the economic and emotional spheres, without there being any awareness on the part of their linguistically unconcerned fellow nationals about this predicament. None of the moral and material prejudices to which the Amazighes have been subjected was redressed. Thus, the cultural associations have exhausted their energies in vain because the “influential people” (in the largest sense of the expression) have not changed their stance towards “Timmuzgha”. In fact they will never do so if the “Amazighity” of Morocco is not recognized officially and publicly. It has become incumbent upon this Amazighity to get itself officially recognized.
The question, now, is on the verge of moving from being an economic and cultural one to being a political question. This will, undoubtedly, be the case if the necessary steps are not taken –and within appropriate time limits – to redress what needs redressing. This is so because the Amazighes will not forego their “Amazighity”. Moreover, their mind will not rest as long as the denial of the “Amazighity” of their country is not abandoned. In fact, they will be rightfully entitled to deny the “Arabity” of the country – in strict adherence to the universally recognized principle of reciprocity – if the obstinacy of denying its “Amazighity” continues to prevail amongst the Moroccan pan-Arabists.
Nowadays, Moroccans are glad that (a) the era of truth concealment and fear has gone by, (b) our society has arisen, as concerns cultural maturity, to the level affording self-confidence, and (c) each of its component parts share with others feelings of trust and bonding and good intentions, instead of those of suspicion, caution and bad intentions. For this reason, we have elected, we the group of intellectuals, to (a) fulfill our sacred duty towards our country, and (b) call upon our current government – the “government of alternance“- to do likewise. Our action is prompted by our close monitoring of the evolution of the Amazighe public opinion and our cognizance of all the particulars of the question which is here presented. We, therefore, call upon our present government, which appears to be more entitled and hopeful than any of the previous governments of the independence era – thanks to the strong royal and certain popular support that it enjoys – to exalt the “common interest” and keep it clear of any ideological conception, myopic partisan view, and congruence between selfishness and lack of any sense of measure.
We call upon this government – which listens affectionately to the lament of the Nation, guided by the inspiration provided by a generous Monarch who is resolute to make of his reign one of complete equity and solidarity between citizens – to take into account the requests formulated below. We feel that their satisfaction will mean that every rightful claimant in this country will have been given his/her right, in the international acceptation of the concept of a “human right.”
The government must make the issue at hand the subject of a large-scale national debate, a debate governed by rationality and logic, and characterized by calm and serenity. Some of the political parties, which are participating today in the government, have the duty of educating those of their followers who belong to the “independence era” and who were brought up to be fanatical about Arab nationalism and the denial of the “Amazighity” of Morocco. These parties, for instance, had gotten their journalists used to caring more about problems concerning the Middle East than those faced by their fellow citizens living in the Rif, the Atlases, the Sous and the Sahara. They appear now to endeavor to offset the consequences of what they have done (unwittingly in our opinion).
We have noted with satisfaction that one of their great leaders – the current Prime Minister – has accorded an implicit recognition to the “Amazighity” of Morocco in his first program statement delivered at a special session of the parliament. With such a stand, he contributed to reducing the depth of misunderstanding that had appeared in the relations between the “Amazighe youth” and the “Arab youth” among the Moroccans. The “government of alternance”, which he leads, has at its disposal all the State’s financial and logistical means in the domains of mass media, education and culture and the freedom to use them as it sees fit. As such, it is empowered to act as the official organizer and moderator of the much needed debate. In so-doing, it would provide a means to overcome any difficulty that might stand in the way of satisfying our other requests.
The Second Request
It is high time that the recognition of our original national language – Tamazight (i.e. Berber) – as an official language be enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
Among the strangest things, in Morocco, is that the Amazighe language is not officially considered a language. One of the most embittering things for an Amazighe, in the “independence era”, is to hear some of his fellow citizens make a statement like the following: ” the official or national language is Arabic!…by virtue of the text of the Constitution!”. He is provoked by the uttering of these words, on every occasion, along with the explicit mockery and haughtiness which accompany it. Thus, he feels persecuted in the name of the supreme law of the country. In this regard, one of the thinkers from the era of the “Philisophy of Enlightenments” said: ” The harshest persecution is the one practiced under the wing of the law and colored with the colors of justice”
This is what leads us, we the signatories of the present Manifesto, to insistly demand that it be stipulated in the Constitution that Tamazight is a national language.
The Third Request
There is no gainsaying the historical reality, which indeed can not be contested, that the economic and cultural marginalization of the Amazighes since 1912 has brought about their political weakness. Thus, they have been largely exploited – and what exploitation that was!- by the political Right and Left alike, either to perform “dirty jobs” for the circles monopolizing the means of government or to act as a “spearhead” for fellow militants of the extremist opposition. In these conditions, they were given the hope to get around the serious damages that have come over them because of the aforementioned marginalization. Those who marginalized them and exploited them – from both the above-mentioned political forces – seized every opportunity to make an indirect reference to the “cultural inferiority” of the Amazighes, declaring that it is necessary to get rid of their language ( the carrier of such an inferior culture).
From the foregoing, it is to be deduced that the damage befalling the Amazighes, for 88 years (1912 – 2000), occasioned by their long war against the colonizers and their economic marginalization, stands as the main cause lying behind their so-called “cultural retardation” and the dwindling of their political role in the country. Therefore, we demand that a serious planning for the economic development of the Amazighe-speaking areas take place, with the aim to give them momentary priority to get equipped with the necessary infrastructure. This is in order to enable them to make up for what they had missed in the fields of agriculture, industry, education and training, and to reach the development level of the nation.
The Fourth Request
The Amazighes are strongly attached to their linguistic heritage, more so than to a material one (whatever this latter may be). This is because they are Amazighe thanks to their language not to their race. They are completely aware of the fact that whoever among them exposes his language to loss is doing the same to his Amazighe existence.
Thus, we are asking the government to prepare draft bills aiming to enforce the teaching of Tamazight in schools, institutes and universities. Moreover, we request that it create the scientific institutions capable of codifying the Amazighe language and preparing the pedagogical instruments necessary for its teaching.
Let no one argue against us that the language of a Moslem is solely Arabic. We think that this argument is fallacious and does not hold. Has Allah (the Almighty) not said in His revealed Book (the Holy Koran) the following (Surah Ar-Rûm; v. 22)?:
” And among His Signs
Is the creation of the heavens
And the earth, and the variations
In your languages
And your colours: verily
In that are Signs
For those who know.” (Translation: A. Yusuf Ali)
Has the Noble Prophet (Allah’s Blessings Be Upon him) not said: “An Arab has no merit over a non-Arab, save as concerns piety…”
A person is “Arab” or “non-Arab” by his language. As for the Imâm Ali (may Allah honor him), he urged the Arabs to learn languages because their knowledge increases intelligence and the ability to apprehend human characters. He said: “Learn languages! Each language represents a human-being!”
Whoever claims that the Islamization of a Moslem becomes valid only through his Arabization has excluded, in his ethnic computation, nine tens of the Moslems from the Islamic community world-wide. Moreover, the Arabic language for us the Amazighes is a cultural gain and a treasure inherited from those among our ancestors who cultivated it: e. g.; Al-Jâzûlî, Ibn Mûtî’, Ajerrûm, Al-Hasan Al-Yûsî, inter alia. We did not take it from ‘Oqba Ibn Nâfi’, nor Mûsâ Ibn Nusair, nor Yazîd Abî Muslim, and the like. Our faithfulness to the stands of our ancestors towards Arabic is a good guarantee for our continued cultivation of Arabic and attachment to it. For it is the key to the acquisition of an in-depth knowledge of religious matters; it is also the strongest link between us and our Arab brothers in the Maghreb and the Middle East.
No one is to claim that multilingualism in a given country leads to separatism and to the splitting into groups. Quite the contrary is observed. What causes separatism and group splitting is lack of civilizational maturity. We do have the example of nations whose multilingualism has not prevented them from enjoying power, security and prosperity. On the other hand, there are other nations with a single language which live in bad conditions at all levels because of their cultural underdevelopment. Morocco, itself, was not, in its heydays, speaking a single language. Tamazight was the language of communication in the Almohades’ Palace. It was used for the purposes of explaining the Koran and conveying the meanings of the Prophet’s hadiths in the majority of the country’s regions. All the Moroccan kings spoke Tamazight. The first one to be deprived of learning it was the Alaouite Moulay Abd El-Aziz, because his mother was not Moroccan and the conditions of his up-bringing were those that we all know. If the Amazighe language has been confined to the spoken mode (“orality”) during both the Christian and the Islamic eras, it is because the two religions used exclusively the writing system in which their Holy Scriptures were recorded (viz. Latin and Arabic). The non use of the Amazighe writing (Tifinagh), which has been preserved by the Twaregs, must be due to the naive belief of the Amazighe simple man.
No one is to claim that Tamazight is a group of dialects and that it is too late to standardize it, as was done for Arabic dialects with the advent of Islam. Our reply to statements such as these is that (a) history has not ended yet and (b) languages are social creations made by their speakers. These latter may neglect or resuscitate them, depending upon historical conditions. For example, Norwegian was activated and elevated into a national language only in the course of the 19th century. As for Flemish in Belgium, it is only in the middle of the 20th century (which is about to end) that its scattered dialects were reunited into a standardized language linked to Dutch. Nowadays, this language is one of science and instruction in the universities, and its speakers are gradually surpassing their French speaking fellow citizens in many a field. In any case, we are not in need of a mediator between us and our language so as to enlighten us – out of sincerity or vested interest – about its strengths and weaknesses. As the saying goes, “the inhabitants of Mecca are the most cognizant about its ramifications“. We are the most entitled to know the linguistic potentials that Tamazight possesses and its hidden capacities. We know how these latter would enable it to thrive in the best of circumstances and to be promoted to the level of international languages in what concerns dealing with modern cultural and scientific concepts. This is so because, on the one hand, it is a living language used without any mannerism; on the other hand, it possesses a largely flexible morphology.
The Fifth Request
In the last 40 years, the political trends that have adopted a fanatical stand about Arabism have exploited their effective hegemony and used their authority to orient “research” and teaching. Thus they have oriented historical studies on the Maghreb and the teaching of History in accordance with their wishes and ideological inclinations. In so-doing, they have strained scientific objectivity and perverted intellectual impartiality. Their purpose was unbecoming of scientific pursuit and of its practitioners. This is so because they sought to disregard anything Amazighe so as to exalt anything Arabic, with no distinction made between truth and falsehood.
Given this state of affairs, it has become a common practice to give any student and any inexperienced researcher the idea – inspired by the fanatics of Arabism – that all the good deeds in the Moroccan history were the work of Arabs and all the bad ones that of the Amazighes. Indeed, an opaque silence was kept for good about the “Amazighity” of great scholars of Amazighe origin and of the nations to which they belong. The sought aim, of course, was to make the learner believe that “Morocco has been Arab(ic) since eternity.” It is worth noting that the tendency to eliminate research on the past of the Amazighes prior to their conversion to Islam has been strengthening year after year. Indeed, in the eyes of the theorists of Arab nationalism, History is what has a link with the “Arab race”. Therefore, they recommended writing the history of the race not of the land. Our evidence for this is that the first lesson that our children are taught, when first introduced to historical matters, is entitled: “The Arab city and tribe before the advent of Islam“. This title reminds us of what the French used to inculcate in the heads of the children of the “autochthons” in their African and Asian colonies. They used to make them repeat again and again: “Our ancestors are the Gauls“!
It can be seen, then, how the ideologies can throw overboard the principles and requirements of education. And Arabism in Morocco has gone to great lengths in its distortion of our history. The most cogent proof for this can be found in the way the ideology of Arab nationalism has arrogated to itself the right to “evaluate” our history and to indecently distort it. This was most evident when it chose Marrakech as a venue for one of its Conferences (in 1995) and allowed its “cultural” mouthpieces to heap all the loads of abuse they could muster on Youssef Ben Tachefine – the founder of Marrakech . All this took place while the Moroccan people “in charge” in our country were listening – and delightfully so – because Youssef Ben Tachafine, in their eyes (or rather in those of their “nobles guests!”), was no longer the founder of Marrakech nor the first ruler to draw up the political map of Morocco. Rather, they turned him into a “coarse Bedouin who oppressed Arabism in the person of Al-Mu’tamid Ibn Abbâd” ( one of the petty kings of Andulusia). It is as though Youssef did wrong to change the course of history when he rescued the Islamic territory of Al-Andulus and did not leave it in the hands of the coward, dissolute and profligate Andalusian petty kings. These latter could have meekly ceded it to the worst archenemy of Islam at that time: the Spain of the Reconquest.
For these reasons, we demand that a serious reconsideration of the kind of history taught to our children – especially the Maghrebian history – take place. To achieve this objective, a “National Scientific Commission” must be set up, at the highest possible level, and charged with the task of devising the History syllabi, particularly for the primary, junior and high school levels. Our ministers of education shall not be given free disposal as concerns syllabi and curricula in the field of History.
The Sixth Request
We call upon the government to make the use of Tamazight mandatory in many a public service, for the benefit of those of our fellow citizens who are not cognizant in Arabic (classical or dialectical): e. g.; the mass media, the courts, public administrations, the health services, the local and regional councils. Our desiderata are as follows:
- The official mass media should be in the service of the Amazighes in the same way that they are for other citizens. This would be achieved only by the creation of a “Radio and TV station” where the linguistic medium used is mainly Tamazight.
- The State has to create a training institution for translators and interpreters in Tamazight to be employed in the court system, the administrations, the hospitals and all the public services. Their job would be to act as interpreters for all the citizens who do not know Arabic or who do not have a good mastery of it. In this way, these citizens would not be deprived of their right to have their needs answered: e. g.; getting medical treatment, taking legal action when they are wronged instead of foregoing doing so.
- The government should allow the use of Tamazight in the proceedings of official meetings, at least at the level of local and regional councils.
- It would be a good thing if all the authority agents were given lessons in Tamazight during the training for their job and were encouraged to continuously learn it.
- The government must lift the ban on registering the Amazighe names in the Sate Registry Services as soon as possible, because in this ban lies a clear intention to provoke the Amazighes. These latter are still bearing its vexation patiently and in a civilized manner.
Among the justifications for our request, we mention the following.
Millions of Moroccan Tamazight speakers are suffering, in this country, from some kind of alienation, which is psychologically more oppressive than the one experienced by our immigrants abroad. The following are some cases which highlight this alienation:
- An Amazighe man who leaves his hometown because of poverty, and who looks for a job, would get integrated in the community of workers – just as oppressed as him – only with great difficulty. This is because his knowledge of Arabic is limited to a few words related to the acts of speech having to do with finding his way and earning a living. Therefore, he would be a perturbed and anxious worker, always embarrassed while speaking to his employers and fellow workers. Moreover, he would always feel that fate had forsaken him because of his being an Amazighe and not of anything else. In this regard, it has been observed in the last three decades that more than 60% of manual workers in building sites in big cities – those of luxurious apartments and villas (!) – are speakers of Tamazight who live in very harsh conditions, morally and materially. In fact, one of the charitable Associations which volunteered to help these workers has uncovered the case of a worker who was obliged to act as if he were dumb, when he first came to the city to work. He did so in order to avoid stammering and faltering when trying to speak in Arabic. He felt at ease with that strategy, for months. As for the case of beggars in the big cities’ streets whose Arabic lexicon does not go beyond 20 or 30 words, one can talk about it without embarrassment.
- An Amazighe man or woman who gets into an administrative office (where s/he would be forced to use Arabic) would go through hard times before getting his/her business treated because of his/her inability to express himself/ herself in Arabic. S/he may even be chided. In any case, s/he always fears being ridiculed because of his/her speech, accent or tone. This is because the Moroccan administration is not devoid of “civil servants” or employees eager to sneer at those whom they like to call “Shleuh” (i. e.; the Amazighes).
- An Amazighe father going to the State Registry office to register the name he had chosen for his newborn baby would face the staunch refusal of the Registry clerk on the grounds that the name chosen is “Berber” and not “Arabic”. Thus, in spite of a favorable court decision in one or two cases, some of the newborn Amazighe children have not yet been recorded on the Registry, even when some of them are adolescent. It is not known who is behind this racist codification circular which gives low-level civil servants the right of decision and evaluation, depending on their whims, and the opportunity to ridicule and censure the Amazighes.
- An Amazighe student sitting before his/her examiner on the day of the oral examination runs all kinds of risks. If his/her name provides any hint about his/her Amazighe belonging, s/he would be first asked about the language used at home, which is completely out of place. If the answer is Tamazight, s/he would be asked in one way or another to give up “that gibberish”. S/he would find himself/herself in a dilemma in such a situation: if s/he dares to comment on the examiner’s statement, s/he would pay dearly for it: by being flunked.
- A group of Amazighe pupils in the Junior or Senior High school would not be allowed to use “Shelha” during the break if the teacher on duty or the vice-principal is an Arab-speaker.
- Millions of Amazighe TV watchers or Radio listeners do not understand anything said in the news, broadcast conferences, movies, public speeches and commentaries, etc. This is due to the fact that the languages of Radio and TV are: classical Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, educated Moroccan Arabic, or a foreign language. Thus, a man or a woman among those millions would feel cultural inequity, whose bitterness is felt only by the one who has been at its receiving end. S/he would often ask himself /herself the following question: “Am I in the homeland of my forefathers and ancestors or in a strange, colonized and helpless country?” Often-times, some expressions or words s/he had heard before would stick in his/her mind. However, having not grasped their exact meaning, s/he would use them haphazardly in conversations, something which exposes him/her to the mockery of the mockers.
- An Amazighe man or woman often refrains from any political activity because s/he is handicapped by his/her poor knowledge of Moroccan Arabic, let alone Classical Arabic. It is a well-known fact that any official activity usually takes place in an Arabic that is meant to be eloquent. This search to adhere to exact grammaticality has become one of the strategies to expose the intellectual impotence of a political enemy and to render him dumfounded and unable to answer. The existence of this strategy is evidenced by the competition into which the Members of Parliament engage when they rival in “decorating” their speeches with appropriate and inappropriate “eloquent” expressions. This is also supported by the reports on the way discussions are held in the official meetings of the local councils, whether urban or rural. This phenomenon is among the main factors which render ineffective the administration’s efforts to strengthen democratic practices. Is it not unjust that a man be forced into silence or a faulty use of language because of the imposition on him to converse in a language in which he is not fluent?
The Seventh Request
Concerning the Amazighe arts, we request the following:
- The original Amazighe art is to be rehabilitated. This includes literature, dancing, singing, architecture and decoration. This art is to be modernized so that it will be improved and promoted. Moreover, the practice of using the negative appellation “folklore” should be abandoned, as it was the colonizer’s appellation. This is in spite of the fact that such use has been complied with by the people in charge of this sector during the “independence era”, people who could hardly hide their hatred towards “Timmuzgha”.
- The Amazighe artists must be granted the same financial assistance and emoluments as their Arab colleagues. The denial of such help was the main cause for the weakness of their creativity and the poor quality of their production. In this regard, it is important to point out that an Amazighe civil servant in the Cultural Affairs ministry was obliged to resign (more than a decade ago), to emigrate and ultimately become alienated. This was because he was deeply humiliated and threatened with imprisonment. His crime is that he tried to improve and modernize the Amazighe “Ahidous” dance. He is now one of the greatest creative artists –of international renown – in the field of dancing and choreography.
The Eighth Request
Concerning Amazighe names, we request the following:
- The authorities must cease to intentionally distort the Amazighe names of places, villages, cities and regions, through their arbitrary Arabization, as this increases the resentment of the Amazighes.
- The big public institutions are to be named after historical Moroccan figures, not after persons unknown to the collective national memory. It is shameful in the “independence era” that the name of Mohamed Ben Abdelkrim (El-Khattabi) – a great hero who defeated the Spaniards – is the last name on the list of those chosen for avenues. Among the strangest things that took place in Morocco, a few years ago, is that a group of citizens had seen their Association put on trial because they tried to create a foundation bearing the name of “Mohamed Ben Abdelkrim El-Khattabi Foundation”.
The Ninth Request
Concerning financial help to be granted the Amazighe cultural associations and publications, we request the following:
- The Amazighe cultural associations are to be granted the status of “public usefulness” associations so as to enable them to benefit from State financial help.
- The newspapers, magazines and all publications concerned with the defense and promotion of the Amazighe heritage of Morocco are to be given the same financial help as that made available for publications in Arabic and the foreign languages.
For the sake of eliminating any ambiguity and warding off any tendentious interpretation.
We, the Amazighes, are brothers to the Arabs, wherever they live, owing to (a) our belonging to the Islamic “Umma” (Nation), (b) the strong ties which bond us to them, and (c) our shared history, characterized by mutual support in good and bad days. We share with them their hopes and pains and stand by their side in any just cause. As for our fellow citizens who are proud of their “Arabity”, just as we are likewise proud of our “Amazighity”, we jointly form one body. None of us – be it from them or from us – should pride himself with his lineage, because reliance on conceit is a proof for indolence and a deviant way to get preeminence, honor and wealth without making any effort nor laboring for them.
Our purpose in issuing this Manifesto is to express our determination to combat the cultural hegemony that has been programmed in order to bury a very important part of our civilizational heritage. Moreover, this hegemony endeavors to eliminate our original language and blot out the distinctive marks of the Amazighe dimension in our Moroccan identity, in spite of the depth, breadth and width of this dimension.
We believe that diversity is an enrichment and that difference is a sharpener for the human designs. We are also of the opinion that “uniformity” leads to the missing of opportunities for opening up (to the outside world and to other ideas), for development and refinement. As for “unicity“, it is an attribute of the Creator Who “…forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him“(cf. Surah An-Nisâ’ (Women); v. 48; Trans. Yusuf Ali).
By virtue of our democratic traditions and customs, the roots of which reach the depths of history, we strive –we the Amazighes – to be brothers to all the peoples who love peace and justice and act in accordance with the principles of equality and tolerance between people, indeed even with the principle of reaching a “fair consensus” between points of view and beliefs. We believe in the advent of a universal civilization which is capable of integrating all the contributions of mankind.
Rabat, 1 March, 2000 ( 24 Dhu al- Kaada, 1420 Hegira)
(N.B.: This document was initially given for signing to 229 intellectuals: University professors, writers, poets, artists, industrialists and administrative cadres. Its signing has been re-opened, for all the Moroccans who would want to do so, after the Bouznika Conference, 13-14 May, 2000)