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bobad BS: Walk or Die - Real Refugee Thread (48) RE: BS: Walk or Die - Real Refugee Thread 02 Jul 18

The Amazigh, the Mozabite and the Tuarega are the indigenous peoples of Algeria, as well as of other countries of North Africa and the Sahara. The Amazigh are also known by the name “Berber”, which derives from the Roman term for “barbarian”, a name given to anyone who did not speak Latin.

Amazigh (plural Imazigen) means “free man”. They have been present in these territories since ancient times , according to the historian, Malika Hachid, their presence in the region dates back more than 10,000 years and “Berber as an identity and culture was forged in the lands of North Africa and nowhere else”.

The indigenous population can primarily be distinguished from other inhabitants by their language (Tamazight), but also by their way of life and their culture (clothes, food, belief ect.). Urbanisation and the policy of Arabisation are, however, increasingly destroying the characteristic features of the Amazigh.

After decades of demands and popular struggles, the Amazigh language was finally recognised as a “national language” in the Constitution in 2002. Despite this achievement, the Amazigh identity continues to be marginalised and folklorised by state institutions.

Officially, Algeria is still presented as an “Arab country” and anti-Amazigh laws are still in force (such as the 1992 Law of Arabisation).

No Recognition of Indigenous Peoples in Algeria

The Algerian government, does not recognise the indigenous status of the Amazigh. Because of this, there are no official statistics concerning the number of Amazigh in Algeria. On the basis of demographic data relating to the territories in which Tamazight-speaking populations live, NGOs estimate the Tamazight-speaking population at around 11 million people, or 1/3 of Algeria’s total population.

The Arab invasion of the Maghrib began in 642 AD when Amr ibn al-As, the governor of Egypt, invaded Cyrenaica, advancing as far as the city of Tripoli by 645 AD. Further expansion into North Africa waited another twenty years, due to the First Islamic civil war. In 670 AD, Uqba ibn Nafi al-Fihiri invaded what is now Tunisia in an attempt to take the region from the Byzantine Empire, but was only partially successful. He founded the town of Kairouan but was replaced by Abul-Muhajir Dinar in 674 AD. Abul-Muhajir successfully advanced into what is now eastern Algeria incorporating the Berber confederation ruled by Kusaila into the Islamic sphere of influence.

A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period, Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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