Monday, July 20, 2009

Berbers, Islam & Christianity


3 July 2009

No mystery as to why Christian missionaries might be having their greatest success in the Kabyle. In Algeria, that remains the Berber heartland. It is where the Berbers, that is those who were not forcibly transformed, during the centuries of Arab rule (interrupted by 132 years of French rule) into "Arabs" (how many of those "Arabs" who now persecute the Berbers realize that they themselves are a generation, or two, or five removed from their clearly Berber origins?)

The cause of the Berbers is hardly known in this country. The writer Kateb Yacine, a Berber who refused to write in Arabic, but chose French, is celebrated in France, especially among Berbers-but unknown in this country, and his anti-Arab rage is not likely to cause his books to be included in the syllabuses of courses on "Francophone" literature given that so many such courses are now taught by French-speaking Arabs.

What is that cause? In the first place, it is linguistic and cultural. In Algeria, where the French rightly saw the Berbers as superior to the Arabs — one French general wrote a book about the "Europeanness" of the Berbers — the Berbers were not discriminated against, but as soon as the French left, the forced arabisation of the Berbers started up at once, as if the French interregnum, with the wider possibilities that French education made possible to both Berbers and Arabs, had never existed. Older people in Algeria speak and use French; the younger ones are forgetting. And meanwhile, the Berbers were forbidden to use their own language, the Berber language, Tamazight, in their schools, in their institutions, and even, at times, they could be punished for using it among themselves, on the street. Berber culture was officially ignored.

About twenty years ago, news of agitation began to reach the outside world. There were riots in Tizi-Ouzou. Reported in France, but hardly anywhere else in the Western world. In America, of course, we had all been sufficiently subject to ARAMCO propaganda (performed as a "public service" by the big oil companies, as part of their propaganda payoff to the Saudis for allowing them to find, produce, and then pay exorbitantly for the oil that happens to lie under the malevolent sands of "Saudi" Arabia), to believe that there is something called "the Arab world" and in this "Arab world" there are no Copts, no Armenians, no Assyrians, no Chaldeans, no Turkmen, no Mandeans, no Maronites, and of course no Berbers, no Jews (no, there never were any Jews in North Africa or the Middle East — they all came to Israel, you see, from Europe), for everyone in the Arab world was an "Arab."

The discovery or re-discovery of a Berber identity (and how many of those North African "Arabs" should begin to realize that they are Berbers? There is, by the way, a genetic marker that, in studies by French geneticists in Tunisia, shows that Berbers and Arabs can be easily distinguished) is or could be an important weapon in unsettling the world of Islam, and perhaps causing the Maghreb to see itself, as it should not as "Arab" but as the victim of Arab imperialism.

For what is Islam if not a vehicle of Arab imperialism, and what are the Berbers, if not the victims of that Arab imperialism, an imperialism far more potent and long-lasting than the European kind, for it attempts to efface the historic identity of whole peoples?

And it makes perfect sense that Berbers in the Kabyle would, having felt along their pulses the Arab imperialism of which Islam is the vehicle, would be more open to the efforts of Christian missionaries, or more likely, are not so much responding to missionary activity, but to their own observations as to what Christianity is like, and what Islam has brought them.

In this respect, one should not underestimate the fact that Berbers now live in France, that they make up most of the membership of such groups as the "Maghrebins Laïques," and that they, not the Arabs whose ethnic identity is so found up with Islam, are capable, in some cases, not of identifying with the Arabs, but more closely with the French. And those Berbers communicate with Berbers at home, or through the Internet. And sometimes they return, to Algeria and Morocco, to see their families, and bring with them their own observations on the relative merits of the Islamic world, a world suffused with Islam, and the non-Islamic world, the one they have experienced in France.

The more the non-Arab Muslims of the world, and 80% of the world’s Muslims are not Arab, come to realize — and it would not be hard to help them to realize, for they will not be able to deny the facts, having experienced so much of it themselves — that Islam is a vehicle for that Arab supremacism, the more likely it is that at least some of them will fall away. And others, who may stick with a kind of "non-Arab" Islam (as if such were possible) will, in so doing, at least help to divide, and therefore to weaken, the Camp of Islam.

Ideally, one would wish this Total System, that has held so many hundreds of millions in thrall, and thwarted over so many centuries so much human potential (think of the art, think of the science, that might have resulted in the absence of the dead hand of Islam on so many people, prevented from so many forms of artistic expression, so many avenues for free and skeptical inquiry that are necessary for the enterprise of science, so much dull fanaticism, so much boredom, so much violence, in posse and in esse) will be seen, by Berbers, by Kurds, by people in the subcontinent (why should Muslims in India not "rediscover" their own history, their Hindu, or Buddhist, or other non-Muslim roots?), by those in Malaysia and the East Indies, with its rich pre-Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist past?

Meanwhile, start reading those Berber sites. And hope that the French state, instead of Sarkozy’s folly of "integrating" its Muslims by government-supported mosques, will try to work on the Berbers, work to make them see the light, work to help them to achieve their own destiny, one different from, and superior to, that of the Arabs whose method of domination comes from, is supplied by, Islam, Islam, Islam.

By Forkinsocket

Article taken from: New English Review, Friday, 18 January 2008

your comments:

Berbers, Islam & Christianity
4 July 2009, par Opine
Interesting article -
For recall - Berbers brought Christianity to Europe, and Europeans made North-Africa Arab. Peoples of north-africa may have seen in the Jihad a value, back in the 7th century, but correct the coran and took what’s of value, making fit within the local cultural. In places like Morroco, they translated it to Tamazight, pure and simple. The mixup came with Napoleon 3, who dreamed of his Ismic Kingdom, and though I haven’t read it anywhere, he was a Jihadist by all means who praised Islam. Islam or Arabs haven’t done anything to local peoples, it is their Neo-Republican governments who made it a point to islamize and arabize. It may be by necessity, or more perhaps by sponsorship, because the fact is, this is the case of Algeria: Those who ended-up stealing the liberation from France were somehow prisoners, in "costody", and in cahuts with the Baathists, the product of French and British Governments - i.e. The relays, for remote control. It is this dictators, with chanceleries in western capitals that commit the genocide. I am Kabyle, have lived outside Algeria most of my life, and no Arab has ever shocked me with the denial of my identity, as I state it. It is always, somebody else, "a westerner" who has long abandoned his own identity for food, who would insist. Go figure !
The snakes
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Berbers, Islam & Christianity
4 July 2009, by Tifirelest
Thanks Opine for your comment, here is a set of interresting comments, the questions here interesting and they denote that our history as Berbers is completely ignored by the world!
The Berber question in North Africa
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Berbers, Islam & Christianity
5 July 2009, by Opine
Interestingly enough, the group which composed this is the "JIHADWATCH" - Whoever that is - Jihad is the only thing of value in the Coran, but since, I believe that book is a misforged story, the jihad is what attrackted all arabs or moslims’ allied, such as the US and others in Afganistan in the 80s. Now, that said, one needs to explain to me WHY SOME FOLKS ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH A REGIME SUCH AS THE ONES IN North Africa, and encourage us to fight them - That’s all we do all the time. Clever, but not this time around ! These regimes FEED and GROW the Jihadist, and YOU FOLKS you FEED AND GROW these REGIMES !
As they say,
Deal with it !
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