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Amazigh languish in underserved pockets of southeast Tunisia

Post-revolutionary Tunisia has been friendlier to its indigenous Amazigh, but the concentration of wealth and power in the north continues to marginalize the remote communities.
DOUZ, TUNISIA:  An abandoned Berber village sits in dunes in the vicinity of Zaafarane, near the southern Tunisian town of Douz, 24 December 2006 as the 39th International Sahara Festival opens. The festival, held 600 kms (370 miles) south of Tunis, draws locals and tourists for a cultural event that celebrates the region's heritage and desert people. AFP PHOTO FETHI BELAID  (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)

Near the village of Taoujout, a road of packed dirt leads up a steep hill toward the settlement of stone houses perched at its top. In the low spots below the road, palms sprout among green gardens. While only six miles from the regional administration center and tourist sights, Taoujout appears totally disconnected from the outside world.

Beside the road, a small outbuilding decorated with traditional ornamentation serves as the cultural center and language school for the Amazigh, the name North Africa’s indigenous pre-Arab inhabitants use to refer to themselves. At a desk in the building, Ahmed Gwirah, president of the Taoujout Association for the Preservation of the Amazigh Villages, discussed the history of the Amazigh community’s marginalization and underdevelopment with Al-Monitor.

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