Sixth, Moroccan dialect is not a new thing in education. It is already present alongside Modern Standard Arabic, French and other languages, when it is used in explanation or discussion, and when a lingua franca is used in classrooms, schools, institutes and universities.                                                                                                             

Seventh, those who criticise the shortcomings of Modern Standard Arabic and who characterise it as being backward, over-complicated and not keeping up with the times are themselves the most vehement defenders of preserving French, even more than the French themselves are in their own country. Such people are preoccupied with purity of style, respect for the rules of grammar, morphology, pronunciation and inflexion.

Eighth, Arabic is regarded as fair game not only because of its strict rules of grammar, but also because of what it represents. Language is not an empty vessel; rather, it is a conveyor of thought, mirroring civilization, culture and identity. Those who take aim at it are implicitly criticising all it represents in terms of values, thought, culture, history and identity.

Ninth, when Morocco adopted the policy of Arabisation, soon after gaining its independence from France in the late 1950s, the stated goal was to restore the Arabic language and to counter the hegemony of French, which was seen as a colonial inheritance needing to be shunned. After many decades of Arabisation, it has become clear, however, that the status of French has grown. Indeed, it has remained the language of the elite, whilst Modern Standard Arabic has been pushed out to the rest of the society as a kind of class barrier. Hence the policy has entrenched the superiority of the Francophone elite over the rest, be they Arabic or Amazigh-speaking, or both.

Now that a section of political Islam has got its foot in the political door, the magic is likely to turn against the magician since the Islamistsʹ base is the Arabic language, Arabic thought and Arabic heritage. Arabic is the language in which they read and learn, and thus it has become – in the eyes of the Islamistsʹ opponents – a strategic target in order to halt the tide of political Islam in the longer term. Hence those who oppose Modern Standard Arabic have targeted school curricula to stop the Islamistsʹ use of a language that promotes their values, thinking and ideology.

Tenth, five years ago, the Moroccan historian Abdallah Laroui said in defence of Arabic that the adoption of colloquial dialect would lead to Moroccans becoming marooned on an island. On top of that, it would lead to the abandonment of a centuries-old heritage shared by 300 million men and women, namely the Arabic language (or lughat aḍ-ḍād - the language of the ḍād – as early Arab grammarians used to call it). After all, Arabic has developed and adapted almost every day in order to compete with the worldʹs other languages.

On a social level, Laroui warned: "The result (of adopting the Moroccan dialect) will be cheap labour and intellectual illiteracy and inferiority, because it will only ever be a tool in the hands of a skilled operator!"

Ali Anouzla

© 2018

Translated from the Arabic by Chris Somes-Charlton

Graphic reproduced with kind permission of TangierTaxi

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