Recently, during a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the “Arab Maghreb Union” the Moroccan Minister proposed to drop the term “Arab” in the name of the Union, in order to stick to the reality of Maghreb, a multicultural space where Amazigh (Berbers) and Black Africans coexist with Arabs (actually, who are not really Arabs, but merely Arabized Berbers). But the Tunisian Minister Rafik Abdessalam Bouchleka refused, arguing that Maghreb was Arab in terms of “civilisation, culture and geography”. Not only the geoagraphic argument is absurd (since when did Maghreb drift out of Africa and became part of the Arab Peninsula?), but the civilisation argument is the sign either of intolerance either of ingnorance. Indeed, 45millions non-Arabs live in North Africa, why would we stick on all of us a wrong classification?
North Africa doesn’t exist only as a part of the “Arab World”, it also exists in itself: it has its own History, civilisation, numerous languages, ethnies. Egypt isn’t part of Arab Maghreb Union so is technically not concerned by this debate, but who is not aware of the fact that denying the non-Arab History of Egypt (Pharaonic) would be unacceptable for Egyptians? For the case of Maghreb, it is the same: denying the non-Arab past AND present is a denial to the identity of the land and its inhabibtants. As long as Maghrebi leaders refuse to stop to be just the satellites of the Middle-East, as long as they don’t listen to the people, asking for recognition and dignity, they will not drive us to the true democracy, the task we entrusted them with.