By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, February 6, 2013
Abdelilah Benkirane, Morocco’s head of government, has recently talked about the Moroccan Amazigh, describing them as people who lead simple lives, who eat little and spend quality time dancing. Here, we must also remind ourselves of the day he talked about the written system of the Amazigh language which he mockingly described as similar to Chinese, a complicated language in Benkirane’s eyes. Perhaps, owing to his latent complexes against the Amazigh, he has this time chosen, not to talk about their rich, victorious history, but rather to speak about what they do in their spare time and how they lead their lives. His description of the Amazigh only gives us the impression that he has not yet figured out their power and that he thinks that Arabs must be better than them.
Whether Benkirane had good intentions or not in saying what he said about the Amazigh, he must bear in mind that he is playing with fire. All over the world, cultural diversity in all its respects is a power only developed countries have for long advocated. Hence, diversity in languages, ethnicities and cultures must be preserved at any rate according to these countries. Many officials have been forced to resign because of a joke they cracked about a category of their society or an insulting statement they made about a culture pertaining to a group of people in their country.
Whether he is aware of it or not, Benkirane is waging a war on the Amazigh’s way of life, particularly that the Amazigh throughout history are not noted for their dancing abilities alone, but for more victories. Among the latter are their resistance against any enemy and their quest for freedom. Amazigh is synonymous with free. Benkirane must know that.
The head of the government should have asked himself why they lead simple lives. It is not because they are tight-fisted that they live life simply as he might have thought. As the Amazigh history testifies, they are known to toil in their lives so as to earn a dignified livelihood. Dignity does not allow them to encroach on people’s properties to make themselves grow rich. They believe that everyone is born free. Hence, for them, anyone who wants to survive on his own and rely on themselves must lead simple lives. Amazigh are provident; they take precautions for their future. Instead of talking about how they lead their lives, Benkirane must rather embark on why they do so.
In history, tribal clashes rise from this limited thinking that Benkirane has. If we set out to confine the Amazigh to dancing, it must mean that they are good only at this. Why doesn’t he discuss the fact that they endorse freedom, democracy, equality, diversity, unity, justice, and humanity? Why doesn’t he bring up for discussion the fact that they struggle against slavery, ill-treatment, marginalization, and indignity? Why doesn’t he talk about the richness of the Amazigh culture in Moroccan society? Why does he not raise the role the Amazigh play in Moroccan culture? In case spending time dancing is all that Benkirane knows about them, then he must re-read history and re-consider his baseless judgments. In case he is aware that the Amazigh are known for other victories, then he must ask himself why his mind reverts to dancing and tifinagh (Amaizgh calligraphy) which he finds as strange as Chinese.
As head of the government, Benkirane must know that all Moroccans must be equal in his eyes, be they Arab or Amazigh. Addressing a community differently from another is doing the other an injustice. Instead of assembling Moroccans together and making them feel a sense of belonging to each other, Benkirane is in some way or another rendering them apart. He is spreading hatred among the Amazigh instead of spreading love. He is making a mockery of them instead of praising them for their being part and parcel of the Moroccan identity. He is focusing on dancing and simplicity in living instead of shedding light on other victorious life aspects of Amazigh. It is true that nothing is wrong with dancing. Yet, to say that they spend time dancing is open to multi-layered interpretations. Most of them are negative, especially if we take Benkirane’s stance on the Amazigh movement into account.
Saying that the Amazigh spend time dancing means that all they do is dancing, that all they do is play, all they care about is singing, all they know is dancing, all they are famous for is dancing, all that comes to mind when the Amazigh are mentioned is dancing, and that they are busier dancing than doing other valuable things in their lives. Benkirane must have been being ironic when he mentioned the time they spend dancing. If Benkirane were neutral, he should have mentioned other life aspects. If he were democratic, he should have respected at least the cultures of his own country, let alone the cultures of other countries. As head of a government, he must re-visit his diplomacy. Otherwise, he would be entrapped in clashes.
Simplicity in everything, including eating, is the secret to the Amazigh’s greatness. Benkirane who implicitly poke fun at them for their tight-fisted lives must bear in mind that they have never been known to embezzle the state’s public funds. Simply, it is because they are satisfied with what they have. Leading a simple life, for the them, is better than confiscating the livelihoods of their fellow Moroccans. Leading a tight-fisted way of life, for them is better than resorting to corruption.
Commerce, for them is better that earning what they do not deserve. Perspiring under the sun, for them is better than losing their dignity and holding undeserved positions. Earning money by their own efforts, for them is better than beggary and pick pocketing.
Mr. Benkirane must remember that making a mockery of the Amazigh will not serve him well. He must learn from America and Europe that treat their citizens respectfully no matter how different people are from their fellows. Most importantly, in democracies, any official telling a joke, whether out of good or bad intentions, must be penalized by resignation. Stability in democracies is a priority. Benkirane is playing with national stability. As a Muslim, he must think twice before he speaks ill of his fellow Moroccans. As head of the government, he must be tactful for fear of hurting any members of the Moroccan society. As an intellectual, he must re-read the history of the Amazigh to find out about other achievements, victories and skills apart from dancing, eating little and living simply.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy