#Trending: Algerian Imazighen celebrate Amazigh new year

#Trending: Algerian Imazighen celebrate Amazigh new year
2 min read
13 Jan, 2017
Many in Algeria and elsewhere across North Africa took to social media to celebrate the beginning of the year 2967 in the Amazigh calendar.
People are celebrating the start of the year 2967 in the Amazigh calendar [AFP]
Algeria's Imazighen marked the beginning of their New Year on Thursday with the community's twitterati taking to social media to celebrate the start of the year 2967 in the Amazigh calendar.

Along with many Imazighen across North Africa and Europe, the Algerian community flooded social media platforms with Assgass amagaz (happy new year) messages, images of local festivities and especially pictures of traditional foods made for the occasion.

The Imazighen peoples (Amazigh in singular), also known as Berbers, have been indigenous to North Africa for thousands of years with high numbers in Algeria, Morocco and Libya, and have retained distinct language and ethnic identities following the Arabization of the region in the 8th century.

While most Imazighen are Muslim and also speak Arabic, the 20th century saw an active effort by them to reassert their unique cultural identity.

Imazighen movements however often faced opposition by Algerian, Moroccan and Libyan governments who sought to promote Arab nationalist identities and feared separatist tendencies.

In Algeria, the Imazighen make up some 13 million of the country's 39 million.

Recent moves in Algeria, echoed elsewhere in North Africa, have seen more official recognition for the Imazighen cultural identity.

Last year, Algeria recognised the Tamazight language spoken by Imazighen poeples as an official language in the country, yet the Amazigh new year celebration is not recognised by the Algerian government as a national holiday.

Calls for its recognition have recently increased.

"We should officially respect this aspect of Algerian tradition," a statement by the opposition Socialist Forces Front said on Sunday.

The Amazigh calendar has as its first year the corresponding year of 950BC, making this year the beginning of the year 2967.

Algeria's Amazigh take January 12 as the beginning of the New Year while those in Morocco will celebrate on January 14.

With social media now thriving across North Africa, official acknowledgement of the Amazigh new year will become increasing difficult to ignore.

This week, the Arabic hashtag #AmazighNewYear quickly gained traction on Twitter.

A very happy new year to all Algerians #AmazighNewYear God willing, may our days be full of joy and festivals, and may Algeria be peaceful and secure.

Celebrations in of New Year in Algeria #AmazighNewYear

Wishing you a happy #AmazighNewYear