ALGIERS (Reuters) – Algeria has translated the Koran into the Berber language, Tamazight, for the first time, to promote Islam among a community that has long campaigned for more language and cultural rights, an official said on Monday.
Religious Affairs Ministry spokesman Abdellah Tamine said the ministry had funded the printing this year of 6,000 copies of a full translation carried out by its experts.
Saudi Arabia financed the printing of 5,000 copies of a partial translation last year, he said. All 11,000 copies were distributed free and the ministry planned to print more.
I’m rather curious about how many Algerian or Moroccan Berbers actually read Tamazight. I must admit (and this is awkward to say as an ethnically Arab Moroccan) that I have always been rather skeptical about the need to push for Tamazight text in cultures that are already at least bilingual. Does anyone know exactly how many Tamazight readers there are? Or is it a political issue being driven by a small intellectual elite?
In any case, this particular project seems quite worthy. It’s a surprise it didn’t happen earlier considering the many top Islamist leaders in the Maghreb who are Berbers.