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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Berber breakthrough in Algeria
Demonstrator throws stones at police in Tizi Ouzou last year
Berbers want more autonomy

The Algerian Government has agreed to include the language of the country's Berber minority, Tamazight, in its educational system.

This fulfils one of the demands of Berbers who staged violent protests against the Algerian authorities in Kabylie two years ago, which left 60 people dead and about 2,000 injured.

The language will now be included and promoted in the educational system and the institutional consecration of private education at all the levels.

Tamazight was recognised as a national language last year after further unrest amongst radical Berbers who were pressing for greater cultural and political recognition, in the country where they claim they represent 25% of the population.

Constitutional change

However, the government of President Bouteflika said that the recognition of Tamazight, as an official language of the country will require a change in the constitution.

The language, is spoken mostly by Berbers and by other ethnic groups in Algeria and Morocco, but at present Arabic is the only official state language.

Since independence from France in 1962, the majority Arab community, backed by both the military and Islamist lobbies, have maintained that Arabic must be the sole language to be recognised by the state.

Algeria's Berbers get language rights
04 Oct 01  |  Middle East
Berbers protest in Algeria
20 Apr 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Algeria
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Algeria
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles

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