Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Month: January 2009 (page 2 of 6)


From Jewish Voice for Peace. There is also one featuring an Israeli woman with “I refuse to occupy” written across her cheek. I found this one more striking.

Obama’s choice of Irish-Lebanese George Mitchell for Middle East envoy bodes well.

Morocco: Disappearing the Amazigh

So it looks like the Moroccans are at it again. Instead of just letting people be who they are, the government is still going on about their naming laws. In other words, if you want to give your child an Amazigh (Berber) name, tough luck. Moroccan human rights groups recently proposed a list of Amazigh names be added to Morocco’s approved list of names, however, the proposal was quickly struck down. Alarabiya reports:

The Moroccan civil registry recently rejected 13 Berber names after receiving a list from the Ministry of Interior with specific Berber names considered in violation of law 99-37 that determines names fit for males and females.

Now, realistically, it’s a much smaller percentage of Moroccans who would choose to do so, but the fact of the matter is, Amazigh people are the true Moroccan natives. They are spread throughout the country and beyond. They are urban and rural. And the Moroccan government is trying to tell them that, by naming their child an Amazigh name, they are giving them a name which is “contrary to Moroccan identity.”

What exactly, then, is Moroccan identity? Is it Arab identity? The official language of Morocco certainly is Arabic (although it could be argued that what is actually spoken on the streets is only a distant cousin). Still, it is estimated that 23 of Morocco’s 30+ million people speak one of three Amazigh dialects. And according to sociologist and writer Mohammed Chafik, up to 80% of Moroccans are of Amazigh ethnicity.

The flag of the Amazigh people

In neighboring Algeria, where the number of people speaking a Berber dialect is significantly lower (at about 29%), Berber is actually considered a “national language” (though not an official one). Now, I’m not 100% sure, but it seems that in Algeria, there is more naming freedom; either Amazigh names are on the “approved” list, or the law has been done away with entirely. In Morocco, however, you must select a name from a list of (entirely Muslim) names which reflect “Moroccan identity.”

Oddly enough, in the past few years, trendy new names have been cropping up in Morocco; names popular in the Levant, such as “Rime,” or popular in Iran, such as “Nasreen,” have made their way into the Moroccan identity. But try to name your daughter Numidia, and all hell breaks loose.

When will Morocco realize that Amazigh are part of their national identity? Once the languages have died off (another contentious issue is the teaching of Tashelheit, Tamazight, and Tarifit)? Once there are no more Tanasts, Shadens, or Numidias? Once all Amazigh political parties have been banned for good? Or will the history of the Amazigh simply be erased?

What will it take?

Bold is mine:

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

He didn’t mean that. I truly didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed, nor do I want to be cynical, but as the slaughtering of innocents and inducing of terror is coming from our side, from Israel (aren’t they one in the same?) and he has remained hopelessly silent, how can our new President possibly stand there and denounce terror when it is his country’s support which is perpetuating it?

What more can I possibly say? That Michelle, Sasha, and Malia looked lovely? That I’m happy to hold on to my reproductive rights? That I’ve lost hope?

I was one of the truly hopeful. I planned my vote sometime back in 2006, and held tight, and although I never believe he’d be our savior, for a long time I thought this meant real change, even if it came very slowly.

And then he was elected. And then he starting plucking zionists for his cabinet. And then a Secretary of Education with no educational experience. And then on December 27, America’s greatest ally started murdering Palestinians and Obama stayed quiet. He continues to to this day.

I am somehow reminded of this famous statement, associated with the Holocaust:

“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

What will it take for our country to stand up against Israel’s state-sanctioned terror?

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