Rabat – After his controversial remarks about standard Arabic, Noureddine Ayouch has referred to his critics as “dogs.”
Ayouch, a member of Morocco’s Supreme Council for Education, Training, and Scientific Research, is generating rounds of criticism and backlash after strongly defending the use of Darija (Moroccan Arabic) in the Moroccan education system.
Activists, scholars, academics, and sociologists heavily criticized Ayouch’s belief that Darija should be included in the education system.
In response, Ayouch said that “the dogs may bark but the caravan moves on.”
Activists launched a petition on Avaaz.org calling on the government to remove Ayouch from Morocco’s Supreme Council for Education.
The petition has generated 7,554 signatures so far.
The petition, according to the signatories, aims to suspend Ayouch’s plans “to destroy the principles and moral values and execute the Arabic language.”
In his recent interviews with local news outlets, Ayouch said that Darija existed before classical Arabic and that Darija could curb the education crisis in the country.
He also said that classical Arabic is not “sacred.”
Ayouch told Chouf TV that he called people who insult him and his family dogs, adding that he respects people who criticize him.
“I have always supported freedom of expression,” he said.
For years, Ayouch has called on the government to include Darija in the education system.
In 2016 Ayouch announced that he would launch the first online Darija dictionary in Morocco.
Ayouch said that the dictionary aims to give importance to Moroccan Arabic.
Promoting Darija in the education system has fuelled controversy in Morocco. The head of government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, made a public statement against the use of Darija in school books for primary education.
El Othmani made it clear that he believes Darija cannot be used in education. He said the government is ready to give up on school books with some Darija words after a consultation between the concerned parties.
El Othmani said the two official languages in Morocco are standard Arabic and Tamazight (Berber) as recognized by the Moroccan constitution.
The head of government also called on Minister of Education Said Amzazi to give an explanation to the public about the use of the Moroccan Arabic in school books.