Friday, July 16, 2010

Are Islamists targeting Morocco's Amazigh Movement?

Have the islamists become so embolden that they now have the Amazigh Movement in their crosshair? - Morocco Board News

The View from Fez thanks the Morocco Board News Service for alerting us to a disturbing story. According to the service, Moroccan Organizations of human rights on Wednesday urged the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to investigate an imam who has allegedly made "insulting" statements towards the Amazigh language, in a mosque in Rabat. The Amazigh are the native inhabitants of North Africa.

The incendiary sermon was allegedly held after a prayer at the « Al Fath » mosque in the section of Yacoub el Mansour in Rabat.

The ministry defended the imam and denied the veracity of the news. According to the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights (OMDH), the imam in question has compared the "Amazigh movement" to Zionism in a sermon at a mosque in the capital city of Rabat. The NGO did not report the exact words used by the imam but it has requested an investigation to clarify the matter.

"If Ahmed Tawfiq, the Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs, does not open an investigation of this particular imam, we will follow through with a civil suite” said the president of the OMDH, Ms. Amina Bouayach. The OMDH has "condemned the dangerous statements made by this imam and cautioned about the political and religious consequences that are liable to follow."

The Amazigh Network for Citizenship has denounced the incident in an open letter to minister Ahmed Tawfiq and to his counterparts at the Justice ministry, Mr. Tayeb Mohamed Naciri.

The ministry of religious Affairs was quick to react. In a statement that was sent to the official press agency, MAP, the Ministry denied the reports published by the OMDH and by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH)’s president Khadija Ryadi.

The person to whom those words have been linked "is not an imam but a preacher that is employed by the local Rabat council of ulema (theologians)”, said the ministry. Forty worshipers that were present during the sermon have "categorically denied the media reports" in written statements submitted to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. According to the witnesses, “there were no insults to the Amazigh language or a link made between the Amazigh movement and Zionism”.

According to witnesses, the speaker mentioned the importance of the Arabic language in the teaching of the Quran, stressing that "some letters in the Tifinagh, the Amazigh language alphabet, could have a Phoenician origin. 
The Ministry said that the preacher himself is fluent in the Amazigh language due to his roots (from the city of Taliouine, between Agadir and Ouarzazate in the Souss region in southern Morocco).

Islam and the Amazigh movement are sensitive issues in Morocco. The detractors of the Amazigh movement argue that since the Quran is written in Arabic, the Arabic language is the only one that should be an official language of Morocco.
The Amazigh activists do not see any correlation between one’s faith and one’s language and they point to many Muslim countries with languages others than Arabic.

This incident also follows a recent wave of deportations of Christian “proselytizers” by the Moroccan government that some analysts think is due to pressures from Moroccan islamists. 

Have the islamists become so emboldened that they now have the Amazigh Movement in their crosshairs?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Believe me, the Imazighen are not the kind of people you can terrorise. If anything they are the ones to terrorise! If you delve into our history you will find that the real muscle in our region are the Imazighen - one way or another. Absolutely nothing meaningful has come to pass without the vigour and direction of they bring. So I, as a liberal Moroccan, would like to see these fanatics affectively alienate the Imazeghan and thus deny themselves the vigour and direction they must have in order to implement their dystopia: Exchanging our lovely Morocco for an Afsaudistan.