Members of the Mauritanian diaspora in the United States are organizing a demonstration to protest against the recent incendiary statement of Prime Minster Moulaye Ould Mohamed Laghdaf that his government will generalize the use of Arabic at all levels of the administration and educational system. “If such a policy is implemented, it will amount to a cultural genocide against Black Mauritanians who have been discriminated against for too long,” reads a statement by protest organizers. The statement also notes a recent comment by Minister of Culture and Youth Cisse Mint Boide that “The national languages are obstacles to the emergence of the Arabic language.”
“Any attempt to wipe out other national languages for benefit of Arabic is an assault on our multicultural and multiracial heritage,” the statement reads. “We strongly believe that all the national languages, (Arabic, Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof, and Bambara) must be treated on equal footing and be given the same opportunities for growth and usage.”
The statement wars that “the politicization of our national identity” is being used as a social distraction, leading to “the awakening of old demons, thus fueling tensions between Arab and Black Mauritanians, two communities who are bound to live together… The tragic events of 1989-1991 resulting in extra-judicial killings and mass deportations of Black Mauritanians had their origin in such tensions. The recent protests organized by students of the University of Nouakchott against forced arabization, are a clear reminder of this ongoing problem.”
The statement emphasizes that “our protest should not be construed as an opposition to Arabic. We are protesting against the exclusive use of Arabic as an instrument of oppression against Black Mauritanians.”
The demonstration will take place Monday May 10, from noon to 2 PM, in front of the Mauritanian Embassy, 2129 Leroy Place NW in Washington, DC
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