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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Morocco's King sets up Berber institute

King Mohammed of Morocco has met a long-standing demand from the nation's Berber community by setting up an institute dedicated to their cultural heritage.

The King said the Moroccan people wanted to recognise the whole of their national identity, including both the Arab and Berber aspects.

The Berber heritage body is to be known as the Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture -- the name by which the Berbers prefer to identify themselves.

A BBC correspondent in Rabat says that by setting up the institute, the King is breaking with the custom of his late father, King Hassan, who viewed many Berbers as hostile to the Arab ruling dynasty and all but ignored them.

Most Moroccans are racially Berber rather than Arab, but the term is used today to describe the population group who have retained many aspects of the indigenous culture and language.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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