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Moroccan authorities continue to reject the use of Amazigh names on official documents

Despite the involvement of human rights NGOs and Amazigh organisations, Moroccan authorities continue to reject the use of Amazigh names on official documents.

By Hassan Benmehdi for Magharebia in Casablanca – 10/06/2008

Moroccan Amazigh activists demonstrate on Labour Day.

Moroccan Amazighs have criticised the Moroccan authorities' refusal to register some Amazigh names on official documents.

Moroccan citizens face a refusal by the authorities to register their Amazigh names on official documents, numerous cases show. Names including Bahac, Damya, Diyia, Mayssa, Guraya, Yuba, Ijja, Aderfy, Amzin, Idir, Massinissa, Tihia, Tinass, Taynust, Sifaw, Massin and others appear to be categorically banned from entry into the register of births, marriages and deaths.

Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa has rejected allegations of discrimination, saying that in the High Commission for Civil Status, the body in charge of approving or rejecting name choices, "there is no restriction on the choice of names, nor is there a list to restrict public freedom on this matter".

Instead, to explain how the commission chooses whether or not to register names, Benmoussa pointed to law No. 37-99 which stipulates that "the name chosen by the person declaring the birth...must be Moroccan in nature and must not be either a family name nor a name composed of more than two forenames, nor the name of a town, village or tribe; similarly it must not be such that it would challenge morality or public order".

Amazigh activists counter that the list of rejected names gets longer every year. Of the 88 cases examined in 2007 by the commission, Benmoussa said 75 names were accepted. Thirteen, however, were rejected for being "un-Moroccan" Amazigh names. The most recent examples of rejected names include Illy, Tilili, Chaden, Dihia. Those names determined not to be in conformance with the law are shared with all of Morocco's registry offices and its embassies and consulates abroad.

Moroccan citizens Farid El Mouchni and his wife found in March that they could not register the name of their daughter, Chaden.

Farid told reporters that three months after her birth, his daughter still has no name because the Moroccan embassy in Madrid, where the family lives, said the name Chaden is forbidden by the High Commission for Civil Status.

"I don't understand why they haven't allowed me to call my daughter Chaden, given that it's not morally offensive, and doesn't break any of the rules," he said, adding that he appealed to Moroccan state officials and the Moroccan ambassador in Madrid, but in vain.

The El Mouchni family is not alone.

In the north east city of Al Hociema, the Nouizia family spent five years fighting in vain to register their child's name – Sifaw. In Errachidia, the name Tihia was struck down.

In June 2007, authorities at the Agadir registry rejected the Amazigh forename "Illy". After several attempts, Illy's parents eventually decided to take the matter to the courts, where the case is currently being heard.

Amazigh activists say the refusal to accept Amazigh names is a form of discrimination.

Rachid Rakha, a member of the Amazigh World Congress, told Magharebia that the rejection of Amazigh names is an "injustice" against the future of Amazigh identity.

names don't carry any notion of hatred or challenge morality or public order. Quite the contrary; these are names which recall Amazigh culture, identity, history and great historical figures," he


Amazigh movements in Morocco have joined in solidarity against the government's actions and contacted a number of national and international NGOs to draw attention to the issue.

In Parliament, three MPs from the Party for Renewal and Equity have proposed an amendment to law No. 37-99, seeking to better protect the right of newborn Moroccan children to have a legally recognised name according to the choice of his or her parents or legal guardians.

Casablanca nurse El Taeïbi told Magharebia that the Amazighs' reaction to the rejection of the names they choose is natural. "It's unfortunate and unjust in my view, and the issue needs to be



Auteur: Maghribia.com
Date : 2008-08-10 14:37:00
Source : www.maghribia.com

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