'An Injustice & A Disgrace': Outrage Surges Over 'Shameful' Corsican Language Ban on French Island
08:23 GMT 11.03.2023 (Updated: 09:56 GMT 11.03.2023)
The French island of Corsica has for many years been trying to achieve autonomy, seeking legislative powers in economic and social fields, as well as recognition of the Corsican language as the official lingua franca.
Public outrage has been triggered by a "shameful" court decision in France's Corsica
to ban use of the Corsican language in its local parliament, according to reports from the capital, Ajaccio.
A verdict issued on 9 March in the Corsican city of Bastia ruled that French is the only language allowed to be used in official communications on the Mediterranean's fourth-largest island which is a “territorial collectivity” of France. Furthermore, use of the Corsican language in debates - something that had been commonly practiced by the Assembly (unicameral legislative body of Corsica) - was pronounced as being against the French constitution.
Referred to as Corsu, or Lingua Corsa, the Corsican language is closely related to the type of Italian spoken in Tuscany. The language is spoken and written not only on the French island of Corsica, but also in northern Sardinia - an Italian island. The language has been classified as "definitely endangered" by UNESCO.
Also deemed a violation of the constitution by the court were local rules in support of “the existence of a Corsican people”.
The present ruling has come in the wake of a lawsuit introduced by Amaury de Saint-Quentin, the prefect of Corsica, according to reports. De Saint-Quentin is the highest-ranking official on the island and is appointed by the central French government.
The court ruling prompted an immediate backlash from pro-autonomy politicians on Corsica, with the pro-Corsican independence party Core in Fronte going on Twitter to lambaste the "shameful" verdict.
"This decision amounts to stripping Corsican parliament members of the right to speak their language during debates. Accepting this state of affairs is unthinkable for us," a joint statement by the island's executive council president Gilles Simeoni, and Corsican Assembly president Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis said.
Emphasizing that the Corsican language needed to be granted official status alongside French if it were to have any chance to "survive and develop", they vowed to lodge an appeal against the verdict.
Jean-Christophe Angelini, leader of the Party of the Corsican Nation, tweeted to say the court ruling was “an injustice and a disgrace”, and “sounds to us like an insult”.
Corsica has for years been seeking autonomy from France, and - as well as a whole slew of issues - recognition of the Corsican language as official has always been top of the agenda.
In February 2018, during his first visit to the island, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke out against granting Corsica special status or recognizing its language as official, insisting that Corsica was an integral part of the French Republic.
However, this February Macron reportedly told members of parliament
that he had neither red lines nor a predetermined decision regarding Corsica when it comes to the draft constitutional reform, which he hopes to carry out after the summer and put up for debates in 2023-24. However, the option for Corsica to secede from France is off the table, according to the report.
24 February 2023, 18:15 GMT