Friday, May 1, 2009

You can take Arabization out of the Amazigh . . .

. . . but, can you take the Amazigh out of Islam?

Under the Arabs, the Berbers became Islamized and soon formed the backbone of the Arab armies that conquered Spain. However, the Berbers repeatedly rose against the Arabs, and in the 9th cent. they supported the Fatimid dynasty in its conquest of N Africa.
from Islamization of the Imazighen

Islam, however, that came with the Arabs, appears to have been embedded deeply into the
Amazigh psyche.

A Moroccan with whom I corresponded, told me of the Moroccan troops that not only broke through German SS troops but terrified them with their ferocity.

I suppose that he was referring to the following incident cited by the American General Mark Clark, The Allied commander, [who] paid tribute to the Goumiers and the Moroccan regulars of the Tirailleur units:

In spite of the stiffening enemy resistance, the 2nd Moroccan Division penetrated the Gustave [sic] Line in less than two day’s fighting. The next 48 hours on the French front were decisive. The knife-wielding Goumiers swarmed over the hills, particularly at night, and General Juin’s entire force showed an aggressiveness hour after hour that the Germans could not withstand. Cerasola, San Giorgio, Mt. D’Oro, Ausonia and Esperia were seized in one of the most brilliant and daring advances of the war in Italy... For this performance, which was to be a key to the success of the entire drive on Rome, I shall always be a grateful admirer of General Juin and his magnificent FEC.

My Moroccan correspondent believed that the Jews owed an expression of gratitude to these Moroccans, although I doubt that the French Moroccans fought to save Jewish lives.

In the next sentence, my correspondent wrote that what he wished most for was to go to Israel and kill Jews.

When I mentioned to him that his people had been defeated by Arabs who had foisted their Islam on them, he replied that Allah had willed it.

AND . . .

from a COMMENT:

Submitted by Charles Martel, Feb 27, 2009 10:34
This is a quote from one of the Berber writers blasting the Islamists:

The (Islamists) author's second error is that he has limited solidarity with Palestine to participation in marches organized by the political current to which he himself belongs [i.e. the Islamists], in cooperation with the pan-Arab current - whether in its left-wing, nationalist salafi, or right-wing liberal forms.

Daniel: Can you explain these three apparently anti-Islamist strains of pan-Arab nationalism?

Daniel Pipes reply:
You mean anti-Islamist strains of anti-Arab nationialism. The Berbers, like the Kurds, see themselves as a separate ethnic group and resist Arabization.

Most Berbers reject radical Islam. Some go further and see Islam as part of the Arabizing package and are cool or even hostile to Islam.

Reader comment on: Berbers as Anti-Islamists and Anti-Arab Nationalists
The So-Called Arabs Who Built The Pyramids ??
Submitted by Rebecca, Mar 4, 2009 11:21
The Muslims are always talking about the 'colonizers' - but here is the ultimate example of colonization - and Arabia barely had to lift a finger - now these people are so devoted to Arabia - they have called themselves Arab - even the Egyptians - who's ancestors built the pyramids - are now ditching their history and calling themselves Arab. - Talking to the North Africans there - is even more interesting - they seem devoid of knowledge about their own history - except to say they were conquered by the Arabs (something which they seem extremely happy about!) - it is a great crime !! To do anything at all - they must be in synch with Arabia - which of course is a lot richer then they are - to show how subservient the mindset is - many North Africans will tell you - their country is not rich because they don't have oil ~ perfectly logical in the Arab alternate reality ! - I would venture to say that until the North Africans are free of this Arab slave-like mindset and until they establish their own unique identity - that part of the world will see little or no progress for some time to come - I'm with the Berbers on the identity issue !! I predict that Ethiopia might well emerge as a powerhouse in this region - here are a people who respect their history and so their identity -- this coupled with a respect for human rights - could place them in a good position to bring their country into the modern world -- the other surrounding countries you could say are a part of the wider Arab harem !
[from] "'Berbers, Where Do You Stand on Palestine?'" As the MEMRI introduction explains:

Throughout the recent fighting in Gaza, the mainstream North African press was nearly unanimous in its support for the Palestinians and its condemnation of Israel. Some Amazigh (Berber) activist groups, though, made a point of distancing themselves from this mainstream view - for which they were attacked by the Islamist press. While a number of conservative and left-wing Amazigh groups expressed support for the Palestinians, others expressed contrary views, to underline their non-Arab identity and their belief that North Africa should detach itself politically and culturally from the Middle East.

Then follow six excerpts from the Moroccan and Algerian media concerning Berber attitudes towards the war in Gaza. Some of it is bitter indeed, as, for example, a commentary by Moha Moukhlis, a Berber activist:

And the so-called 'Arab street[?]' A brainless herd that has been indoctrinated and riled up and that has lost all sense of gravity and direction. They express their hatred for the Jews, whom they hope to exterminate from the face of the Earth… Yet this 'Arab street', which sees itself as the voice of the [world's] peoples, never dared to lift a finger against the crimes committed by the Hamas fundamentalists, or by the Arabo-Islamist regimes against non-Arab populations in Darfur, Kurdistan, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Algeria, or Niger. No! [And] the rights of the Amazigh people are supposed to be sacrificed on the altar of [this] Arab fundamentalism.
Translations of this item (entire Pipes article) into French

[Selected] COMMENTS
Submitted by Atlas Kahena, Mar 27, 2009 03:26
Before we attempt to answer the question Where do the Amazigh Stand in regard to this or to that issue, we first need to define who the berbers are.
If we ask an arab-islamist, for instance, the answer would be that the Amazigh are Muslims and he/she may even add that they are more Arabs than the Arabs themselves. Another extreme view would only find the truth in one place and one only - The middle Ages: "the Almoravids who established a brutal and bigoted regime on southern Spain in the Middle Ages were Amazigh." What this view failed to mention is that this was done – if it was done at all, in the same exact terms – under the arab-islamist ideology.
The berbers didn't just conquer Spain. It happened with the Arab-Muslim push and conquest that has swept the berbers of North Africa on its way to Spain. Otherwise, why hadn't they done it before? Approaching the Amazigh question is quite a controversy unless we check with the Amazigh themselves. The whistles of the current identity crisis of the berbers were not blown by the copy-cuts of the arab-islamists because those are the ones who lost their Amazighity and if they don't have it, they won't give it.
If Israel is an enemy of the Palestine and of the Arabs and I don't see myself as a Palestinian or as an Arab, I don't see why the berbers should be dictated what position to take in this matter. The berbers hardly have the weight to change their own economic conditions, how in the world would they have the power to alter a deeply rooted historically intertwined political problem – More than that, if the Arab countries have not only watched the problem go on for so long but they have contributed to it, what would the berbers do? – knowing that the berbers hardly exist in the eyes of the Arabs.
Submitted by Farid H., Mar 25, 2009 05:01
As a Moroccan (of Arab ethnicity), I'd like to add a few points:
3. With respect to Berber Anti-Islamism, I'm rather skeptical and I don't think that it holds much water, and you can't count on it. There is a small minority within the Amazigh movement that is anti-Islamic and a very, very small fraction that is even openly pro-Israel. But this is statistically totally insignificant. Considering that most hardened Islamists are actually MREs (marocains résidents à l'étranger), and that this group consists of many, many more Amazighs than Arabs (proportionally, when compared to the ethnic make-up in Morocco itself), it is quite evident that Islamism is more prevalent amongst Amazighs (at least outside Morocco).

And while this is objectively verifiable with statistics, my own subjective non-verifiable impression is that when talking about the M.E. conflict, the most radical anti-Israeli comments are more often made by Amazighs than by Arabs. On this point, I may have the wrong (or biased?) impression, but it strikes me as being very visible.
Submitted by Peter Herz, Mar 19, 2009 15:21
I wonder how many Amazigh stood up for the Jewish communities of the Maghreb when they were being expelled after Algerian independence; or for the right of Muslims to convert to Christianity.