Five demonstrations supporting minority languages in France

On Saturday October 24th, citizens and politicians got to the streets in support of several local languages spoken within French territory. The simultaneous demonstrations took place in Montpellier (for Occitan and Catalan), Bayonne (Basque), Ajaccio (Corsican), Strasbourg (Alsatian), and Karaez (Breton and Gallo). The demonstrations, which this year were attended by between 15,000 and a few hundred people, asked the government to ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which would promote protection measures for the respective minority languages historically spoken in the region, including co-officiality within those regions and international recognition. French is the only official language recognized by the French Republic, and the only one allowed by law for governmental communication and public administration (as well as the only one required in advertising). However, if the government’s proposed ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (currently blocked by the Constitutional Council) were to be approved, 75 more languages, 24 of which are indigenous to the European territory (the others being spoken in overseas areas of the French Republic, such as the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and South America), would qualify for recognition.