Since the French Revolution, French centralist Jacobins have wanted to turn the whole of France into one big Paris, and the cultures of the nations integrated into that State have suffered constant persecution.

First, there was the aggressive, and even violent, persecution.  Then, after the idea of the French Republic had settled, and after everything had become a suburb of Paris where all spoke the same language and there were no differences except in social status, the abuse of different, “non-official” cultures and languages was subtler, but no less harmful.  The cultures and languages that were different to the one declared, and imposed, as the “National” one were less important, less cultured, and less valuable.

To understand this vision, the one imposed by the Jacobin revolutionaries, and the vision inherited from that original one, the article we wrote regarding a blog entry written by French philosopher Yves Michaud on the website of the Libération newspaper is worth reading over again.

We do not believe that it is a trifling matter that these thoughts were penned by a philosopher who not only is a knight of the Legion of Honor but also has been made a member of the Order of Arts and Letters of France.  Nor is it trivila that these thoughts were published in Libération, a widely-read “progressive” paper.

And that is everything Basque culture in general and the Basque language in particular have had to face over more than two centuries north of the Pyrenees.  And, despite that, the language and the culture have survived.  It hasn’t been easy, let there be no doubt, but the commitment of these Basques over two hundred years deserves to be valued and recognized.

Despite all the persecution, the denial, and the downplaying, Basque has stayed alive, and the Northern Basques have remained committed to their country.  A few days ago, we blogged about a project that allows teachers from the Euroregion that covers all Basques to be certified to teach the Basque language in the Northern Basque Country.

What’s more, this it nothing new.  Over a century ago, it was the Basques from the north who organized and leaded a process to create a Basque cultural renaissance.  We must never forget that the idea of “Zazpiak Bat” was born there.  Many of the stories we’ve brought you about the Northern Basque Country speak to that commitment.

So why are we bringing all this up?  Because today, in France, history was made in the French National Assembly when they passed the Law to Promote Regional Languages.  This bill was written to protect and promote regional languages.  The bill was passed despite the opposition from the LREM, which is the party of the President, Emmanuel Macron.

The approval of this law will allow for two big innovations to favor minority languages:

  • The first is the introduction of immersive education, which means that students may spend a great deal of their school time in a language different to the dominant one, French.
  • The second is the creation of a school package for private schools that teach in regional languages.  This system is thus designed to provide economic support to the towns students reside in when they attend a minority-language school in another town.

The bill was sponsored by a Breton and was passed with 247 votes in favor, 76 against, and 19 abstentions.

Today, a huge step was taken in the return of their civil rights to the Northern Basques, as well as in the defense of the language rights of minority language speakers, which are included in the body of the Human Rights set out in the European Charter on Minority or Regional Languages.

There is still much more to recover.  But today would most definitely not have been a good day for Jacobins Grégorie and Barère, who proposed that “local languages be annihilated.”  Nor must it have been a good day for Yves Michaud.  But it has been an excellent day for the Basques.

We’ll leave you with the international media we’ve found, published in The Canadian, as well as the tweets from Jean-René Etchegaray, the president of the United Assembly of Iparralde.

The Canadian – 8/4/2021 – Canada

France: regional languages ​​soon to be better protected and promoted

It is a victory for the defenders of regional languages ​​in France. The French Parliament definitively adopted this Thursday a bill, supported by the opposition, to protect and promote regional languages, after the favorable vote of the National Assembly in second reading The text was validated despite the reluctance of the government and LREM deputies, Emmanuel Macron’s party.

(Folloaw) (Automatic translation)

 

Header photo: Herri Urrats, the festival in defense of the Basque language, held in the Northern Basque Country (2019 fair)