Algeria, Libya mark Berber new year —at last


In a victory for Berber activists, Algeria officially celebrated Yennayer, the new year holiday of the Amazigh people, for the first time. The move is part of a general effort by Algeria's government to permit greater expression of Amazigh (Berber) culture in order to head off a separatist movement. Neighboring Libya also saw its first official Yennayer celebrations, although not on a national scale. The locally ruling Amazigh Supreme Council declared the holiday within the Berber self-governing zone in the country's western Nafusa Mountains (above). But elsewhere in the country there are signs of backsliding toward the intolerant stance of the Qaddafi dictatorship, when any open expression of Amazigh language or culture had been strictly banned. A Berber activist in Benghazi, Rabee al-Jayash, was detained by forces of the city's reigning warlord, Khalifa Haftar, for public speaking and writing in the Amazigh tongue. Al-Jayash apparently remains detained in Benghazi.

Photo: Amazigh World News

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