By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 13 August 2013:
Traffic outside the Congress buildings in Tripoli today was brought to a near standstill as . . .[restrict]hundreds of Amazigh protestors from across Libya demonstrated against the law voted by Congress four weeks ago to reserve just two of the seats on the Constitutional Commission for their community. They claim the move shows that Congress is deliberately marginalising Libya’s linguistic minorities.
Two seats each were also reserved for the Tuareg and Tebu communities.
The demonstration was organized by the Supreme Amazigh Council of Libya, along with town councils in the Tamazight-speaking areas of the Jebel Nafusa, such as Jadu, Nalut and Yefren.
Rumours that the demonstration turned violent and that Congress was attacked were untrue, Congress members said. However, a number of demonstrators were able to gain entry to the Congress chamber.
The Supreme Amazigh Council, along with the Supreme Tuareg Council and the Tebu National Assembly, last month threatened to boycott the elections to the 60-member Commission if they were not given more than two seats each.
It is estimated that by Amazigh officials there are at least three-quarters of a million Libyans who identify themselves as Amazigh. Tamazight is spoken by far fewer of them but is also spoken by the Tuareg. It is, in effect, now officially recognized – a complete reversal of the situation under the Qaddafi regime. However, calls for Libya to follow Morocco’s example and make it an official language — former Congress President Mohamed Magarief has supported the idea — are strongly resisted by many Libyans. [/restrict]