Arabic alphabet

Algeria: Arab-Amazigh dispute over the use of the Arabic alphabet for Berber languages

Algeria’s Supreme Islamic Council, considered the country’s highest religious authority, has sparked national controversy over its attempt to enshrine Berber languages ​​in Arabic letters.

The Amazigh tribes, who have lobbied for their languages ​​to be recognized as official, have expressed strong objection to their dialects being written in Arabic letters, saying they want Latin inscriptions to replace the original Tifinagh letters.

Earlier this week, the President of the Council, Bouabdellah Ghlamallah, in a speech delivered in the predominantly Amazigh province of Tizi Ouzou, stressed the need to revive and develop the Berber languages ​​by writing it in Arabic, which he cited as a “source of pride”.

Battling the demand for Latin alphabets taking precedence over Berber languages, Ghlamallah castigated Amazigh tribes for not having the interest of their languages ​​at heart, saying the only way forward for the language is through adoption Arabic alphabets.

Ghlamallah nevertheless reaffirmed that the final decision would rest with the Algerian Academy of the Amazigh language, in accordance with the constitutional amendment ratified on February 7, 2016.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ordering the creation and empowerment of the Academy and the adoption of the Amazigh New Year as a national and official holiday at the start of 2018 was seen from two different angles, one of which triumphs over the long struggle dates Amazigh tribes to be recognized as an essential part of Algerian culture, and another that sees it as a political maneuver by the president to rally support for a fifth term.

A sharp, often ideological dispute has long fueled differences between the Berbers, the aboriginal inhabitants of North Africa, who have constantly fought for the teaching of Amazigh throughout the country’s educational system, and the Arabs Algerians who insist on the prevalence of Arabic as the only official language used. in government affairs.

Some Berbers are actively involved in separatist movements demanding independence for the tribal region.

Although the Algerian political level promotes Arabic, it does not follow through on its preaching because most ministries and companies adopt French.