A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, March 21, 2014

Morocco Lifts Ban on Amazigh Names

It's rather unusual that I have two posts in succession on Amazigh ("Berber") languages, but after my previous post on Mzab in Algeria, here's another: "Morocco Lifts the Ban on Amazigh Names."
The High Commission of the Civil Registry confirmed on Monday the freedom of Moroccans to choose the names of their children, provided the names do not breach morality or public order, without distinction between Arabic, Amazigh, Hassani, or Hebrew names, and in accordance with the provisions of the law relating to civil status.
Hasssani is a dialect of Arabic particularly associated with Mauritania an the Western Sahara.
Anir, Sifaw, Tifawt, Thiyya, and Bahac are some of the many Amazigh names that had been unauthorized in Morocco.
The Amazigh families have been denied the right to name their children some Amazigh names since 1996, when a circular was sent to Moroccan civil status registry offices banning Amazigh names.
Since then, activists have led a fierce campaign against what they call a “racist and discriminatory law” targeting Amazighs, and Amazigh associations have been putting pressure on Moroccan authority to recognize Amazigh names.
Arab Spring may be withering, but the less-touted Amazigh Spring seems to be moving right along.

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