.The Middle East and North Africa region boasts a rich tapestry of languages and cultures. However, despite this richness and diversity, the region has not received adequate attention when it comes to language rights. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lack of research on the various language communities in the region, leaving these communities at risk of being left behind in the global discourse on language rights.
Recognizing the importance of filling the gap in research and advocacy for non-Arabic language communities in the region, with the support of the IFEX network, Rising Voices has launched a new project dedicated to shedding light on six such communities.
These communities include:
The project aims to support their rights to free expression and access to information in online and offline civic spaces. It seeks to identify the opportunities, challenges, and threats they face in the digital realm, in order to better understand their unique needs and set priorities for advocacy strategies to address them.
Linguistic rights refer to the right of people and communities to use, maintain, and develop their native languages without discrimination. This right allows people to use their own language in public, receive education, and access information in their own language. It also includes the right to use their own language in legal proceedings.
On the other hand, freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It states that:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This right is protected under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Linguistic rights are significant for human dignity because they allow individuals and communities to exercise other human rights, such as political and social participation, cultural and religious expression, access to information, education, and the justice system. When these rights are denied or restricted, it can lead to discrimination, marginalization, and oppression.
Upholding linguistic rights and freedom of expression, on the other hand, enables individuals and communities to fully participate in society, express their unique identities and perspectives, and contribute to the cultural diversity and richness of our wondrous world.