It is not the first time activists have petitioned the King to make Yennayer, Amazigh (Berber) new year,a public holiday.
Rabat – Amazigh (Berber) activist and president of the Amazigh World Assembly, Rachid Al Rakha, addressed a letter to King Mohammed VI, renewing calls for the recognition of Amazigh New Year or “yennayer” as it is known in Tamazight (Berber language) as a public holiday.
The professor started his letter by wishing the monarch a “happy” new Amazigh year. The year 2020 will be the Amazigh New Year 2970. Amazigh people in Morocco and across the world will celebrate the new year on January 12.
“Since we are on the verge of the ninth year of the Moroccan constitution’s recognition of Tamazight as an official language (…) we ask you to recognize the Amazigh New Year as an official national paid holiday,” he wrote.
Morocco’s 2011 Constitution recognizes Tamazight (Berber) as an official language alongside Arabic.
The professor sent the same letter to Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani.
The move is not the first of its kind, several activists have previously sent similar letters to the government and the King.
In 2018, president of the Moroccan news outlet “Alalam Al Amazighi” (Amazigh World), Amina Ben Sheikh, addressed a message to King Mohammed VI with the same request.
The request has become an annual campaign with activists across Morocco asking for the Amazigh new year to become an official holiday.
For other activities, Amazigh year should not be a holiday as it is not “historical.”
In December 2019, Moroccan researcher Abdel Rahman Farkish, argued that the requests should be ignored and that Yennayer is not a valid festival in Morocco
He argued that Yennayer is an “invention by some Kabyle Amazigh in Algeria, belonging to the Berber Academy in Paris.”
Kabyle is an Amazigh ethnic group in the north of Algeria.
Farkish said that the Berber Academy is known for its “bigotry against Arabs and against everything that is from the Arab history in North Africa.”