In 2001 the government agreed to a series of demands by the minority Berbers, including official recognition of their language, after months of unrest involving Berber youths demanding greater cultural and political recognition.
From “Country Profiles: Algeria,” from the BBC.
At one level, this is as false as false can be. On another it is true. In any event, it is ambiguous, and could use cleaning up.
First, why it is false: Berber is not and never has been an official language in Algeria. A dreadfully misinformed president Boutefliqa, as recently as September 2005, proclaimed that
« Il n’y a aucun pays au monde possédant deux langues officielles et ce ne sera jamais le cas en Algérie où la seule langue officielle, consacrée par la Constitution, est l’arabe »
The linguistic concession that the Boutefliqa government actually did make was to recognize Berber (“Tamazight” constitutionally) as a “national language.” Arabic remains the only recognized official language of Algeria.
Secondly, why it is true: This passage could be interpreted to mean that the government has recognized their language at the official level in any capacity (that Berber has been granted recognition by officials), not necessarily that it has been made an official language. However, the ambiguity in the phraseology gives the reader the sense that Berber (re., Kabyle) activists’ demands were actually met. The BBC’s 2004 Q&A on “the Berbers” notes that
In 2003 the Algerian authorities also made Tamazight a national language. But Berbers there want it to have equal status, as an ‘official language’, alongside Arabic.
Since this page is specific when it comes to the actual legal status of Berber/Tamazight, why is there ambiguity on the country profile page? Why not simply state that Berber was given recognition as a national language, and that tensions between Algerian officialdom and Berber activists have persisted since 2001?