Rebels and Martyrs

The Mobilization of Kabyle Society and the Assassination of Lounes Matoub

by Paul Silverstein
published in MER208

A Kenza a yelli / D iseflan neghli /
F Lzzayer uzekka / A Kenza a yelli /
Ur tru ara

(O Kenza my daughter / We have sacrificed our lives / For the Algeria of tomorrow / O Kenza my daughter / Do not cry)

—"Kenza," written by Lounès Matoub in 1993 for the daughter of assassinated Kabyle journalist and playwright, Tahar Djaout

Algeria's Rebellion by Installments

by Azzedine Layachi | published March 12, 2011

In mid-February, with autocratic rulers deposed in Tunisia and Egypt, and another tottering in Libya, the National Coordination for Change and Democracy took to the streets in the capital of Algeria. The organization, which was created on January 21, following a series of riots in several cities across the country, is led by the Rally for Democracy and Culture (RCD), an opposition party whose narrow constituency includes mainly Berber-speaking people in Algiers and the nearby Kabylia region. The Coordination includes other small political parties, as well as the National League for the Defense of Human Rights, the National Association of Families of Missing Persons (those who “disappeared” during the internal war of the 1990s), an association of the unemployed and many other groups. It called for “change and democracy, the lifting of the state of emergency, the liberalization of the political and media fields, and the release of people who were jailed for having protested or for their opinions.”

Algeria's Midwinter Uproar

by Jack Brown | published January 20, 2011

Soon after the onset of protests which eventually toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, a wave of riots swept through Algeria as well, with many neighborhoods in the capital of Algiers and dozens of smaller cities overwhelmed by thousands of angry young men who closed down streets with burning tires, attacked police stations with rocks and paving stones, and set fire to public buildings. For Algerians a few years older than the rioters, these events recalled the uprising of October 1988, in which violent unrest upended the single-party state.

Bouteflika’s Triumph and Algeria’s Tragedy

by Jacob Mundy | published April 10, 2009

Shoes and pants soaked with rain, I tagged along with a journalist from the popular Arabic daily Echorouk—his paper my umbrella—while he visited polling stations in the Belcourt neighborhood of Algiers on the day of local elections in November 2007. At the first site, disgruntled party officials quickly ejected us. We did not have the right papers, they said, and the police who looked on bored were inclined to agree. At the second station, we kept our distance. Watching for half an hour, we could count the voters who entered on two hands. Next to us stood four youths, escaping the rain under a shop awning. They laughed at us when we asked if they were going to vote. Down the road we saw an older gentleman on his way back from voting.

Introducing Algeria’s President-for-Life

by Ahmed Aghrout , Yahia Zoubir | published April 1, 2009

Across nearly the breadth of North Africa, the head of state enjoys a lifetime appointment. Morocco has a king. In Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, president since 1987, pushed for a constitutional amendment removing term limits and has now announced a bid for a fifth term in office. President Husni Mubarak of Egypt, who assumed office in 1981, is already serving his fifth term. Libyan strongman Mu‘ammar Qaddafi, in power since September 1969, has never permitted a meaningful election.

Regimes of (Un)Truth

Conspiracy Theory and the Transnationalization of the Algerian Civil War

by Paul Silverstein
published in MER214

An Interview with Daho Djerbal

by Chris Toensing
published in MER220

From May to early July 2001, massive protests rocked the Berber areas (Upper and Lower Kabylia) of Algeria, spreading on several occasions to Algiers and other major cities. On June 14, perhaps a million Kabyles “marched for democracy” in the capital, sparking clashes with police and leading the government to ban demonstrations. Middle East Report asked Daho Djerbal, editor of Naqd, an Algerian journal of critical inquiry, and a prominent intellectual, to comment on the portent of the unrest.

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Algerian Insurrection

by Heba Saleh
published in MER220

In the past ten years of political crisis, Algerians have been wary of public protest. Terrorized by relentless violence and impoverished by structural adjustment, they have repeatedly given the impression that what they want most is the chance to get on with their lives quietly. Despite the cancellation of one election and the staging of several fraudulent ones -- not to mention wholesale public sector downsizings and devaluation of the currency -- the streets remained calm and mass protest looked like an unlikely prospect.