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In praise of indigenous people

by Yassine Sailiti Sunday, May. 20, 2018 at 1:46 PM

Forgotten minorities



I would like to talk about Imazighen/Berber Issue and what happened to them. In the 7th century C.E. Arab armies from the Arabian peninsula began invading Tamazgha ( North Africa ) as part of the Arab Muslim conquests, spreading religion on the backs of colonized peoples. The majority of Imazighen had converted to Islam forcibly.

The Imazighen revolt took place in A739/740–743 AD the Arab Umayyad, we defeated them, killed lots of their commanders and destroyed their army.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Tamazgha ( North Africa was divided and colonized by France, Spain, Italy, and Britain. Although Imazighen was prominent in resisting European colonialism and was key in anti-colonial liberation movements, nevertheless Arab nationalist regimes came to the power in post-independence’ Amazigh states. This Arab nationalism arose out of a wave of pan Arabist ideology which served to oppress and marginalize Imazighen.

The Arabization policies against Amazigh people is a crime against humanity and the United state of America and European states must know it.

Imazighen are not only Indigenous to North Africa but have not significantly ‘mixed’ with Arab populations.

In fact, the vast majority of North Africans are of Amazigh descent, with little Arab genetic contributions.

Some Arabs may claim that Amazigh and Arabs are ‘mixed’ or there are no ‘pure’ Amazigh people, the reality is different: Imazighen are not Arab and we have our own Indigenous culture and language for which we have been persecuted

We are called Amazigh, plural Imazighen, a word which means free people in the Indigenous Tamazight language. Among outsiders, the more common though incorrect name for Imazighen is Berber, a term that is largely rejected by Imazighen for its negative connotations. It's related to the word barbarian.

Although some may find words like Amazigh and Tamazight difficult to pronounce at first, it is far better to struggle with these words than to use a derogatory term which amounts to an ethnic slur.

There are countless examples of Amazigh repression and violations of human rights under Arab regimes. Under the rule of King Hassan II in Morocco, a period known as the Years of lead, thousands of Imazighen were imprisoned, tortured and killed by state violence.

For example, in 1959 then crown Prince Hassan II led the Moroccan army to the Rif to subdue Rifian Imazighen who rose up against their marginalization.

The Moroccan army killed thousands of Rifian civilians in my city and Hosima and so on. In the early 2000s in Kabylia, an Amazigh region in Algeria, 126 people were killed in the Black Spring during Amazigh protests.

An unknown number of Kel Tamasheq were killed in reprisal massacres by Mali and Niger after Tamasheq uprisings for self-determination.

The marginalization of Imazighen is multifaceted and has long been characterized by extreme violence.

We are not Arabs or French but we are Imazighen, and we have our language, cultures, history and etc.

Since France created the state of Morocco and established its army, police, and the government, Imazighen doesn't have the right to learn their language at school such as all citizens in European states.

I'm an Amazigh but I was learning Arabic and French but I was unable to learn my language at all because it was banned in all Moroccan institutions.

Do you know what we felt when our language culture and history banned by people who came from Gulf to settle down in our land and cheated us at the end?

As everyone knows, the homeland of Arabic and French are in Europe and Gulf.

A long life to indigenous people such as Kurds, Jews, Imazighen and etc
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