Israel and Arabic: Where else do language and politics collide?

Protests in Israel
There were protests over the controversial nationality bill in Israel

Israel has passed a law characterising the country as principally a Jewish state and putting Hebrew above Arabic as the official language, much to the anger of Israeli Arabs.

The law describes Hebrew as the “state’s language”, effectively prioritising it above Arabic which has for decades been recognised as an official language alongside Hebrew.

In which other countries has the choice of language proved politically controversial?


Protest in Riga over the Latvian language policy in schools
Plans for Latvian to be the teaching medium in secondary schools also led to protests

This Baltic state and former Soviet republic has a sizeable Russian-speaking minority, but the government recognises only Latvian as the official state language. A referendum held in 2012 rejected a plan to accord Russian the status of a second official language. The authorities also have plans to promote Latvian as the language of instruction in all secondary schools, although for the moment, teaching in Russian and other minority languages will still be allowed at primary-school level.


Post office sign in Croatia
Croats use Latin rather than Cyrillic script

After its independence in 1991, Croatia abolished the Cyrillic script, which had been used when Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia. Croats…

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