In a message to King Mohammed VI, a journalist for an Amazigh news outlet requested the Amazigh New Year become a national holiday.
Rabat – As the New Year 2019 and the Amazigh New Year 2969 are drawing near, Amina Ben Sheikh, the president of the Moroccan news outlet “Alalam Al Amazighi” (Amazigh World), addressed a message to King Mohammed VI on December 7, calling for the recognition of the Amazigh New Year, January 12, as a public holiday.
Ben Sheikh referred to Morocco’s 2011 Constitution which recognizes Tamazight (Berber) as an official language alongside Arabic.
In her message, she wrote that “recognizing the Amazigh New Year as an official national holiday side by side with the other national holidays would restore the spirit and philosophy of the Constitution.”
Ben Sheikh emphasized that the decision to make January 12 an official national holiday would also be in line with King Mohammed VI’s speeches concerning the Amazigh culture.
To make her point, the journalist referenced the monarch’s speech on October 17, 2001, in which he said: “the integration of Tamazight is a national responsibility, for no culture can deny its roots. From these roots, [Morocco] must embrace openness and reject close-mindedness in order to thrive and develop.”
Although Tamazight was officially recognized almost eight years ago, draft laws related to the integration of Tamazight in all fields are still on hold, Ben Sheikh noted.
According to Speaker of the House of Representatives Habib El Malki’s statement in July, the government is taking a cautious approach to the Tamazight law calling for the language to be integrated into public administrations and services.
The government does not want to rush the law’s implementation, fearing the “complications” it may pose in the future, because it is connected to the dream of a successful and fair law that would not cause conflict in the Moroccan identity, according to El Malki.
Morocco presented draft laws 26.16 and 04.16 relating to the integration of Tamazight into national education and administrative institutions as well as the protection and development of both Arabic and Tamazight.
The draft laws strive to boost the status and usage of Tamazight in public administrations and services and in all “priority areas of public life,” including documents, such as ID cards, passports, drivers’ licenses, and banknotes.
The Moroccan government has contemplated making the Amazigh New Year a national holiday following calls from several Amazigh associations in the country.
On January 12, Morocco will celebrate the Amazigh New Year 2969, known as “Yennayer.”