Friday, June 05, 2015

Moroccan Minister Dislikes Speaking Arabic

According to a report carried by Morocco World News a Moroccan minister says speaking in Arabic causes her fever

The incident was an interesting side issue to emerge in the ongoing "language war" in Morocco. Normally the debate focuses around the need to make English the second language after French. However, when the Minister Delegate in Charge of Environment, Hakima El Haite, said that speaking in Arabic makes her body rise in temperature, she ignited another burst of reaction on social media.

Speaking during a press conference in Skhirat, near the capital Rabat on Tuesday, the Minister replied in French to journalists’ questions, and tried to evade answering in Arabic.

“Maybe I should reply in Arabic?” the Minister asked the journalist. The journalist said “yes, if it is possible.”

“I will answer in Arabic, although when I speak it, it causes me fever,” the Minister said.

Haiti is not the only Moroccan Minister in the Benkirane government to refuse responding to journalists’ questions in Arabic. The Minister of Education and vocational training Rachid Belmokhtar told France24 Arabic journalists that he does not speak Arabic.

Many Moroccans took to social media to criticize El Haite’s comments, saying that by evading answering in Arabic, the Minister is in fact insulting the “language of the constitution.” Others pointed out that it was bizarre that a Moroccan minister could not respond in the mother tongue of the country. This evoked a swift response from social media that in fact Amazigh (Berber) languages were the true mother tongue, and that Standard Arabic was unwelcome.

"Our Mother tongue in Morocco is DARIJA or BERBER, I am against Moroccan Ministers, as well as National television and radio channels speaking in Arabic. We are the only country in the world whose institutions don't use the mother tongue to communicate. Is it a good way to keep the majority of the Moroccan people in the dark?" - Hassan on Social Media

In the meantime, Darija (Moroccan Arabic) remains the most widely spoken language despite attempts by conservative forces to impose Modern Standard Arabic as the common tongue by (foolishly) not teaching Darija in schools. As one critic pointed out, if we speak Standard Arabic we will end up like the Saudis!

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1 comment:

Jed Carosaari said...

All Arabic is beautiful- Fousha or Dareeja. I know no other more beautiful written language, and it is one of the most beautiful spoken. French is great too- in France. We are in Morocco. Let us speak one of the Berber languages, or Arabic. And for too long the various dareejas of the Arab world have not been taught. It retards the ability to advance, if you must learn a different language than your birth language in order to attend higher learning institutions. I spoke English from birth, and studied in English, and it was far easier for me to advance. It is high time that Moroccans be able to learn in Berber and Dareeja Arabic when they study, at all levels- including advanced and well-written materials and pedagogy at the uni level.