memri

March 2, 2008
Clip No.
1713

Arab Nationalists Attack Berber Activists over Ties with Israel

Following is a debate on Amazigh [Berber] identity in North Africa, which aired on Al-Alam TV on March 2, 2008:

Algerian journalist Anwar Al-Malek: The new racially-oriented political parties, which claim to be calling for the revival of the Amazigh language are, in fact, what could be called "Amazighist" parties. They have no relation whatsoever to the time-honored Amazigh civilization. If we examine these parties' platforms, we see that these are secular parties that are loyal to foreign elements. These parties are guided from abroad, and they are not a domestic phenomenon, because we know full well that the Amazigh people keep true to Islamic civilization.

[...]

I would like to stress that there is a campaign to Christianize the Amazigh movement in Algeria, and there is also a campaign to Zionize the Amazigh movement in Morocco.

[...]

Ahmed Adghrini, Secretary-General of the Moroccan Amazigh Democratic Party: It was said here that the Amazigh people has dissolved into Islam. In response, I'd like to ask my colleagues to show some respect for Islam, and not drag religion into the dissolution of any given people. Islam did not come to dissolve anyone, but to guide people to the worship of Allah and to the path of righteousness.

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The banner that our forefathers carried when they converted to Islam is the same banner we carry today, and we do not need any [other] racial group to give us our Islam. I would like to highlight two models: The model of Iraq, where there is a new constitution, which has converted the pan-Arabist Iraq into a pluralist and tolerant Iraq that recognizes all its ethnic groups. The second model comes from our region – Mauritania. This country has emerged from a regime of slavery – a regime of slave trade and the enslavement of black people – into a new state with a new constitution that accepts pluralism.

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Ahmed bin Nu'man: He said that Iraq changed its constitution in order to erase its [Arab] identity. Iraq, the cradle of the Beit Al-Hikma and the Arab-Islamic civilization, was the world's teacher for 10 centuries. Now, [Adghirni] wants to shatter Iraq into pieces, and create in it a "Quebecistan." The same people who created "Quebecistan," which our Moroccan colleague brought as a model, are the Sykes-Picot of the Arab Maghreb, who went to create "Berberistan" or "Quebecistan" in the Arab Maghreb.

Interviewer: Dr. Ahmed, please. Let's go to Dr. Ahmed Adghirni. You are being accused of creating a "Berberistan" in the Arab Maghreb. How do you respond?

Ahmed Adghrini: First of all, I don't call it "Arab Maghreb," just the “Maghreb,” because "Arab Maghreb" is a racist name that wipes out all other ethnicities. We are black, we are brown, we are yellow – we are African peoples. It's not correct to just call us Arabs. There are Arabs who live alongside us. They are part of our family and citizens of our country, but the racist approach advocated by some traditionalists, like the two brothers speaking here with me – I respect their views, but they aren't modernists. They belong to the past. Today there is a new program. First of all, we are a new kind of Muslim, with pluralist principles. The others are sick with the disease of a so-called unity that dissolves everybody. They must not unite people through compulsion. Islam forbids this. The Koran says: "We made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know. Indeed, the most honorable in Allah's eyes is the one who is most righteous."

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Anwar Al-Malek: One Moroccan activist, Muhammad Al-Kajiri, said something very grave. He said: "I think that it is the right of the Moroccan Amazigh Democratic Party to visit the democratic state of Israel." "Democratic" Israel! He also described Israel as a friend, and said: "It is the Jewish people that suffers from siege, fear, and racial discrimination by the despotic pan-Arab regimes."

Interviewer: Do you deny that you have visited Israel?

Ahmed Adghrini: Our platform promotes religious tolerance, and we take pride in the Jewish part of our country, and we have relations with the Jews of Israel as well. As you know, there are about a million people of Moroccan nationality in Israel. They are Moroccans who left Morocco, as a result of pressure from Arab nationalists and threats like those leveled at me today.

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Why do you want to impose on us your program of unity? You exploit the Islamic faith, the qibla, and the holy sites to spread your racist ideology.

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We promote a new ideology. It is difficult for the fossilized pan-Arabs to understand what religious tolerance mans. It is difficult for them to understand what ethnic diversity means.

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Ahmed bin Nu'man: There were Jews before and after the advent of Islam. One of the Jews who lived after the advent of Islam was 'Abdullah bin Al-Salam, who was one of the companions closest to the Prophet in Al-Madina. Another [Jew], 'Abdullah bin Ubay, was the greatest hypocrite in history. Since our Moroccan colleague is called Ahmed, I'm assuming he's a Muslim, because Jews are not called by this name. I ask him: Are you from the school of' Abdallah bin Al-Salam. I ask him: Are you from the school of 'Abdullah bin Al-Salam, whose heart was changed by Islam, and who became part of the Islamic nation and of Muhammad's nationality – against which he is fighting today - or is he from the school of 'Abdullah bin Ubay?

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I am a Berber from the mountains of Algeria, and I am proud of that. I am an Algerian who was Arabized by Islam. I am Algerian by geography, and Arab-Muslim by history.

Ahmed Adghrini: Islam does not "Arabize." It is a religion that guides people to the path of righteousness.