By Neaman Lerhmari
By Neaman Lerhmari
Rabat – In Morocco, it’s still impossible to get legal documents in both official languages.
Citizen and activist Hamid Ait Ali requested for his family record book written in Arabic and Tamazight, the two official languages established by the constitution. The legal authorities failed to comply with his request, despite its constitutionality.
In 2011, Morocco voted with an outstanding majority on the constitution amendment that establishes Tamazight as an official language beside Arabic.
According to estimates, 40 percent of Moroccans speak Amazigh language. The promulgation of the constitution has been going on for over six years now, yet Tamazight hasn’t fully entered into public life.
The Civil Status Act, the legal corpus that regulates family record books, hasn’t been amended accordingly, as it awaits an organic law to actualize the official status of Amazigh language.
Ait Ali, an Amazigh activist from Errachidia in the East of the country, requested that his family record book to be in Arabic and Amazigh. According to the article 29 of the Civil Status Act, the legal document as many others, can only be delivered in Arabic and latin characters.
Ait Ali wanted legal documents in languages he understands, and refuses to register his children in a family record book written in French and Arabic. He made his request “according to the 2011 constitution amendments,” accord to Hespress.
The handy wording of the law avoids setting French as an official language, or even mention it. The language is ubiquitous in street signage and the traditionally bilingual legal and administrative documents.
Ait Ali requested his family record book in the commune of Annif, in the province of Tinghir, a region known for its Amazigh roots and tradition. Yet the registrar refused to comply with the request, on the pretext that he did not know Tifinagh, the Amazigh writing system.
According to Hespress, the president of the municipality received Ait Ali in his office and explained that the municipality could not deliver the family record book as requested.
Hamid was not easily discouraged, and he took his request to higher level of authority – the prefecture of Errachidia. “I will follow the case closely till the end of the tunnel, only to find out that the state is procrastinating the implementation of the Amazigh language as per 2011’s constitution,” he said to the news outlet, stating that he will send a correspondence to the Ministry of Interior.
Administrative and legal documents cannot be currently delivered in Arabic and Tamazight, but it will certainly happen in a distant future, as the law meant to actualize the status of Tamazight is still sitting in the shelves.