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The Berber Spring (in Berber: Tafsut Imaziɣen or simply Tafsut for "Spring") was a period of political protest and civil activism in 1980 claiming recognition of the Berber identity and language in Algeria with events mainly taking place in Kabylie and Algiers. The background was marked by two decades of harsh Arabization measures instituted by the Arab nationalist FLN dictatorship government, which refused to recognize Algeria's Berber identity and banned the Berber language altogether.
The Berber Spring is traditionally dated as beginning on March 10, 1980, with the banning of a conference due to be held by the Kabyle intellectual Mouloud Mammeri at Hasnaoua University in Tizi-Ouzou. A critical point was the coordinated arrest of hundreds of Berber activists, students and doctors on April 20, sparking a general strike.
While the Berber Spring was in the end violently suppressed by the Algerian authorities, it created a lasting legacy for Kabylie and the Berbers across North Africa. Many of today's prominent Kabyle politicians and activists made their name during the Berber Spring events, and organizations such as the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) and the Berber Cultural Movement (Mouvement Culturel Berbère – MCB) were later created by activists of the Spring. The Spring was also an important event for Algeria's nascent human rights community, including outside Berber circles.
Since the dismantling of the one-party FLN system in 1989—followed by abortive democratization and civil war—a few of the demands of the Berber Spring have been met by the state, and the Berber language is now a national language of Algeria. However, this is still distinct from Arabic, which remains the official language, and many other points of contention remain.
Berber Spring 2011
Since January 2011 massive Berber activism re-emerged in North Africa in the wake of the Tunisian revolution and the overthrow of the Tunisian president Ben Ali, in what Berbers sometimes call the Berber-Arab Spring. This time, Berber activists were much more active and vocal on the streets of Morocco and Libya compared to Algeria. In Libya, Berber rebels helped topple Gaddafi, as the offensive that captured Tripoli and greatly helped end the civil war there originated from the Berber Nafusa Mountains.
- "Morocco braces for protests as unrest moves west". Al Arabiya. 19 February 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- "Tanger manifestation 5 juin 20 fevrier". Youtube.
- "Libya's Berbers join the revolution in fight to reclaim ancient identity". The Guardian. 28 February 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.