Morocco’s Commercial Court Compels Bank to Cash Check in Tamazight

Morocco’s Commercial Court Compels Bank to Cash Check in Tamazight

Rabat – The Commercial Court of First Instance in Casablanca has compelled a bank in Morocco to cash a bank check written in Tamazight, the Amazigh (Berber) language, after the bank declined to do so last year.

On September 17, the court ordered the bank to pay the check in the amount of MAD 3,000 ($323), and MAD 300 ($32) for each day of delay in doing so, in addition to compensation of MAD 1,000 ($108) for moral and material damage.

The case dates back to January 20, 2019, when the institution refused to cash the check of Moroccan citizen Hamdi Al Mahfoud. The bank refused on the grounds that it is written in Tamazight, which the administration does not use.

Al Mahfoud’s lawyer and Amazigh activist Ahmed Arrehmouch shared the court’s decision on social media.

Arrehmouch commented on the verdict saying that “the Commercial Court of Casablanca enforces the official character of the Amazigh language and triumphs the values of linguistic justice.”

The complainant told the court in his opening article that the bank operates within the national territory as well as on the international level, and must respect the linguistic particularities of each country where it operates.

He added in the complaint that although reasons behind the bank’s refusal to cash the check remained ambiguous, Arrehmouch suspected the motive might be that his client wrote some of the information on the check with Tifinagh, the Tamazight alphabet.

Tamazight is an official language in Morocco.

The first Tamazight check cashed in Morocco

The first Tamazight check a bank cashed in Morocco’s history was that of Moroccan citizen Rachid Bouhaddouz, on December 3, 2019, in the northern city of Nador.

The bank cashed Bouaddouz’ check of MAD 120,000 ($12,946) in full respect of the normal procedures of Moroccan banks.

The first Tamazight check cashed in MoroccoThe first Tamazight check cashed in Morocco

Bouhaddouz told Morocco World News that the bank responded positively to his request, despite the fact that they did not understand the content of the check. 

“A few weeks later, I met the regional official of the same bank at an occasion, and he told me that the bank had appointed a specialist in the Tamazight to read the check and thus it was cashed,” said the man.

After the positive encounter, Bouhaddouz took the initiative to cash several checks in Tamazight, his mother tongue, including an insurance check for his vehicle.

Bouaddouz feels that challenges such as that of Al Mahfoud often occur due to “the frailty of the employees’ mood.” Even when parents give an infant an Amazigh name, “the refusal occurs from the employee [charged with issuing a birth certificate], but not the administration.”

When asked why he chooses to write his checks in Tamazight rather than Arabic or French, Bouhaddouz stressed that it is his mother tongue, in addition to an official language in Morocco that needs to be preserved.

Morocco’s 2011 constitution recognizes Tamazight as the country’s official language alongside Arabic. Meanwhile, Law 26-16, adopted on June 12, 2019, presents a series of regulations with the aim of gradually including Tamazight in Morocco’s public life.

Read also: Exclusion of Tamazight on Morocco’s New Identity Cards Reignites Debate