Following a vote from a Corsican court in Bastia, the use of the native Corsican language will be banned in all public offices, institutions, and ceremonies, sparking unrest in a region already fraught with protests and anti-French sentiment.
While the ruling is in line with the French constitution in that only French is to be used in public offices, many activists and Corsican nationalists feel the move is further suppression by the French government of their native culture and respect. The island’s executive council president, Gilles Simeoni, and Corsican assembly president, Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis, released a joint statement saying, “This decision amounts to stripping Corsican parliament members of the right to speak their language during debates,” referencing the long-practiced tradition of the Corsican government using the Corsican language during political debate. “Accepting this state of affairs is unthinkable for us,” they added.
The court also noted that local rules essentially establishing “the existence of a Corsican people” were also a violation of the constitution.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warns that the Corsican language, which is similar to standard Italian and has about 150,000 speakers, is in danger of being eventually lost entirely.
Over the last months, France has been in talks with Corsica to grant the island “greater autonomy”, after decades of tense relations, political unrest, and violence.