Berber Spring

   In April 1980, the region of Kabylia was the setting of resistance to the exclusionary and marginalization policies of the government of Algeria. Following the provocative act of cancellation by the governor of the Wilaya of Tizi Ouzou of a lecture on Berber poetry that was to be delivered at the University of Tizi Ouzou on 10 March 1980 by Mouloud Mammeri, students protested and occupied the university. Students clashed with security forces and the military for two weeks, leading to mass demonstrations throughout the region. The confrontation left 36 protestors dead and hundreds wounded.
   These events, known as the Tafsut and popularly known as the "Berber Spring" or Printemps Berbère, had several political implications for the Berber movement inside and outside Algeria. First, it ushered in Berberism as a political force in postindependence Algeria. The Mouvement Culturel Berbère (MCB) gained substantial impetus against state authorities and also became a secular counterbalance to Islamic politics. This politicization process was also expressed in a series of Berber protests against state policies in Black October 1988, the school boycotts of 1994 and 1995, July 1998, Black Spring 2001 (60 dead, hundreds wounded), and March and April 2002. Second, the Berber Spring produced martyrs whose annual commemoration, as well as for those Kabyles who have been killed by state or Islamist forces, informs in a ritual manner the political struggle of the Kabyles against the Algerian state. Finally, it denationalized the Kabyle struggle and lent it regional and global dimensions, notably in the neighboring countries where Berbers reside and among the Berber diaspora in Europe and North America.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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