Algerian ministry issues order to exclusively use Arabic in all its official documents

October 28, 2021

A third Algerian ministry decided, on Tuesday, to end the use of the French language in its employees' internal and external communications, in conjunction with an escalating crisis with Paris due to statements by French President, Emmanuel Macron, described as offensive against Algeria.

This came in a document addressed by the Secretary-General (Under-secretary) of the Ministry of Labour to officials and institutions affiliated with his ministry, which was reviewed by Anadolu Agency.

According to the document, only the Arabic language should be used in all correspondence, reports, memos of meetings and all documents (…), without complacency or negligence.

This decision came days after a similar instruction issued by the Ministers of Vocational Training and Sports, stating that all administrative transactions must be in the Arabic language, and that the French language should not be used in the two ministries.

There is information circulating within ministries that there are verbal instructions from the highest authorities in the country to end dealing with the French language within government sectors, but Anadolu was not able to confirm an official decision in this regard.

In January 1991, the Algerian authorities issued a law to generalize the use of the Arabic language in all transactions within government sectors, but its application remained suspended for reasons that opponents say is due to the influence of the so-called lobby supporting France in Algeria.

With the exception of the Ministry of Defence, all ministries in Algeria use the French language in most of their internal correspondence and even in their official statements, despite the fact that the constitution stipulates that 'Arabic is the first national and official language, and the Berber language is an official and second national language.'

Algeria usually witnesses controversy over the status of French in official circles in the first place, as opponents, especially conservatives, protest against issuing official letters in French, and the circulation of documents in government departments in this foreign language.

This time, the ministries' decision coincided with an escalating crisis with France, after Macron's statements were described as 'offensive', as he challenged Algeria's history, which led the latter to withdraw its ambassador in Paris and prevent French military aircraft from flying in its airspace.

Experts and historians say that the spread of the French language in Algeria is due to its imposition during the colonial era that lasted 132 years (1830 -1962), the French occupation's fight against the Arabic language, as well as the delay in implementing laws to 'Arabise' the administration and education after Algeria's independence.

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