After Algeria made Amazigh New Year’s Day a national holiday, more activists have called on Morocco to follow suit.
By Zakaria Wadghiri
Rabat – A number of activists of the Amazigh (Berber) movement in Morocco are demanding that Yennayer, the Amazigh New Year’s Day, become a national and public holiday.
Such calls have increased since Algeria made January 12 a national and public holiday for the first time last year.
Moroccans will celebrate the Amazigh New Year 2969, known as Yennayer in Tamazight (Berber), on January 12.
The Amazigh youth organization Tamesna will organize demonstrations outside Parliament in Rabat on Yennayer for the sixth year in a row.
Tamesna Coordinator Adil Adaskou told Morocco World News (MWN) that the demonstrators intend to commemorate the popular holiday and to remind Morocco of the Amazigh people’s legitimate claims—the official recognition of Yennayer as a national public holiday.
Amazigh activist Mounir Kejji told MWN that the celebration is not new and neither are the demands. “There are celebrations in urban, rural and diaspora communities.”
“Morocco should learn from Algeria now. Even their schools are celebrating.” Kejji added that raising awareness is important especially since the successive governments have not met the demands.
He continued, “The fact that all organic laws from the 2011 constitution were passed except the ones regarding the officialization of Amazigh and establishing the Languages and Culture National Council shows a lack of political will. We are still not clear on how the current PJD-led government is handling this. The struggle continues for this recognition.”
In December, Amina Ben Sheikh addressed a message to King Mohammed VI calling for the recognition of the Amazigh New Year as a public holiday.
In her message, Ben Sheikh said 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.”
She also recalled the monarch’s speech on October 17, 2001, in which he said that 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.”
It remains to be seen whether the Moroccan government will meet the demands of Amazigh activists.