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February 19 2014

February 17 2014

February 11 2014

When Algeria's Police Fail to Act, Citizen Journalists Step in

Not long after evidence of police abuse was exposed by citizen journalists there last month, cyber activists in the city of Ghardaïa have once against uncovered failings of Algeria's police forces, this time for not stepping in to protect a man who as killed in public after being kidnapped by a group of local gangsters.

Sectarian tensions in this region situated in the heart of the M'zab valley are high, and cyber activists and citizen journalists are doubling their efforts to expose the violent clashes between the Ibadites minority (a.k.a Mozabites in this region) and the majority made of Muslim Sunni communities, publishing video evidence on YouTube. The publicity generated by the activists’ first videos showing police abuse against Ibadites prompted Algerian authorities to launch an investigation and sanction the officers involved.

The goal of these citizen journalists is clear: share the reality on the ground with the Algerian population, whose awareness of the situation is obscured by the lack of reporting in the mainstream media. In fact, many facts and elements of the situation are not reported. For instance, the media seldom reports on the complicity of security forces with local thugs who vandalize and wreck havoc in the city to increase sectarian conflict between the Ibadites and the Sunni. The photos below taken by Mozabites activists show the reality of the crimes occurring in Ghardaïa right under the nose of police:

Photo gardaia activistes

Photo posted on Facebook by Ghardaia activists showing crime evidence in the city. Used with permission.

Among the crimes exposed by the activists was the case of 21-year-old Mozabite youngster Babaousmail Azzedine. Azzedine was attacked in public after being kidnapped by local gangsters on February 5, 2014. The youngster succumbed shortly after to his injuries, as a result of 20 knife wounds he received.

The crime shook Ghardaïa to its core. Yet Azzedine assassins are still free. Activists retrieved amateurs photos of the murder captured by eyewitnesses and assembled all the video and photographic evidence adding captions as well as geographical and historical annotations. The footage shows Azzedine's aggressors as they assaulted him:

Disseminated via YouTube, citizen journalism website Envoyés Spéciaux Algériens (Algerian Special Envoys) [fr, ar] and independent news site Algérie-Focus [fr], the video went viral and sparked public outcry. It comes at a time when the Interior Minister and the Chief of the Algerian Police were visiting the region in an attempt to appease the situation. Still, local authorities have yet to arrest anyone in the murder, but an investigation was launched by the national armed forces to track down Azzedine's murderers, who can be clearly identified in this video:

In the meantime, numerous online communities are working together to alert Algerian authorities to the situation in the region and to pressure them into acting against against sectarian violence in M'zab. Ghardaïa News [fr] and Ahdath Ghardaïa  (Gharadaia Events) [fr, ar] are two news sites that regularly fight to report on the violence against the Mozabite population.

The tremendous work of these activists was not in vain. The impunity of the criminals was publicly revealed, putting the Algerian authorities in a compromising situation and forcing them into action. Violence hasn't stopped in Ghardaïa, but this a positive step forward for the local population.

February 09 2014

Five of the Most Celebrated French-Language African Films

The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou or FESPACO) is the largest film festival in Africa, held every two years in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The festival usually takes place in March of every year it is held. Founded in 1969, it has honored a great number of movies whose impact is still felt today. In celebration of the upcoming film festival, below are five of the most celebrated French-language African films (award-winning or not) that have left their mark on an entire generation of movie-watchers.

Ivory Coast: ”Bal poussière” (Dancing in the Dust)

Poster du film BAL POUSSIERE - Domaine public

Poster for the film “Bal poussière” – Public domain

“Dancing in the Dust” is a 1988 Ivorian film directed by Henri Duparc. Seen by over 300,000 people in France, this satire of polygamy tells the story of Alcaly (a.k.a. “Demi-God”) who, despite already having five wives, becomes infatuated with Binta, a young woman who has returned home from the big city of Abidjan. See a French-language clip from the movie below:

Gapont [fr], contributor on Allociné in Paris, explains what he found striking about the movie:

Un petit bijou de fraîcheur et de spontanéité. Ce film a la candeur du cinéma de Renoir ou de Pagnol. Petit budget pourtant, acteur souvent amateurs, tourné en super 16mm et pourtant la magie est là, on se laisse porter par ces personnages incroyables. Du vrai cinéma.

A fresh and spontaneous little gem. This movie has the candour of a [Jean] Renoir or [Marcel] Pagnol work. Small budget, many amateur actors, shot in Super 16 mm, yet the magic is there, these incredible characters simply carrying us away. Authentic filmmaking.

Ethiopia: “Va, Vis et Deviens” (Live and Become)

Poster du film Va, Vis et Deviens - Public Domain

Poster for the film “Va, vis et deviens” – Public domain

“Live and Become” is a 2005 French-Israeli film by Radu Mihaileanu. In an Ethiopian refugee camp in Sudan, a Christian mother makes her son Shlomo pass as Jewish in order to survive and be included in Operation Moses, which brought many Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Declared an orphan, Shlomo is adopted by a Sephardic Jewish French family living in Tel Aviv. He grows up fearing that his secret past will be revealed. See the trailer below:

Janos451, an IMDB commenter from San Fransisco, loved the movie's dramatic intensity:

What makes the film extraordinary – what creates all the crying in the audience – is its honest and effective portrayal of the young refugee's isolation and loneliness, made worse by his belief that his escape is at the cost of his mother's life

The film is based on the history of the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews) who, despite their efforts, have experienced a great deal of difficulty gaining acceptance after immigrating to Israel. The movie has seen renewed interest recently as many African immigrants in Israel have been demonstrating for their rights.

Chad: “Un homme qui crie” (A Screaming Man) 

“A Screaming Man”, originally titled “A Screaming Man is Not a Dancing Bear”, is a film by Chadian director Mahamat Saleh Haroun, released on September 29, 2010. It received the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize in 2010. The original title is a quote from “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” by Martinican poet Aimé Césaire. The film tells the story of 55-year-old Adam, a former swimming champion turned hotel lifeguard in N'Djamena. When the hotel is taken over by Chinese investors, he is forced to surrender his job to his son Abdel.

The blogger at Words of Katarina explains what makes the movie so compelling:

A Screaming Man talks about loss of self, not as a consequence of happenings beyond our control, but of the choices we make when life throws us off guard. . . It is in fact up to ourselves to decide what kind of person we want to be and how to express and live up to the decision once it has been made.

Algeria/Morocco: “Indigènes” (Days of Glory) 

“Days of Glory” is a 2006 Algerian-Moroccan film directed by Rachid Bouchareb. The film tells the stories of one Moroccan and three Algerian soldiers serving in the French army during World War II: Abdelkader, Saïd, Mesaoud and Yassir. While they are disillusioned by the discrimination they experience during the war, the movie also illustrates their emerging sense of hope and political consciousness.

Sarah Elkaïm, french writer and african affairs expert at Critikat explains the film's historical significance [fr]:

Personne ne s’était encore attaché à relater le sort de dizaines de milliers d’Africains, du Maghreb et au-delà du Sahara, qui, au sein de l’armée française, ont participé à la libération du pays qu’ils n’ont jamais, pour la plupart, cessé de considérer comme leur patrie. [..] c’est ce qui fait la force et l’émotion du film : les personnages sont construits, et pas prétextes. Ils sont humains : parfois lâches, peureux, ils sont avant tout des hommes venus libérer leur pays du joug nazi.

No one had yet endeavored to tell the story of tens of thousands of Africans from North Africa and beyond the Sahara in the French army, who helped liberate the country they always considered their homeland. [...] That's what makes this movie so emotional and powerful: the characters are fleshed out, not clichéd. They are human, sometimes cowardly or scared. Above all else, they are men who have come to liberate their country from the Nazi yoke.

Madagascar: “Tabataba”

“Tabataba” (“rumblings” or “rumors” in Malagasy, but also the code name given to the events of the 1947 Malagasy Uprising in Madagascar) is a 1988 film by Raymond Rajaonarivelo. The film tells the story of a Malagasy village fighting to achieve independence from French colonial rule. For the villagers, rebellion takes different forms. Some believe in the power of democracy; others believe in the power of arms.

Director Raymond Rajaonarivelo describes how he wrote the screenplay for the film [fr]:

Tout le monde me racontait une histoire, jamais la même. Cela a donné lieu à une rumeur, Tabataba, qui me paraissait refléter ce que j’avais entendu là-bas. Ce sont toutes ces mémoires qui m’ont servi à écrire le scénario

Everyone was telling me stories, but never the same one. This resulted in a rumor, tabataba, that seemed to reflect what I had heard there. These are all memories that I used to write the script.

Valérie Andrianjafitrimo, the reporter of Rajaonarivelo's remarks, adds [fr]:

Car ce qui est crucial, dans ce jeu de balance auquel on assiste entre déni et commémoration, entre interprétation française renouvelée et pluralité des perceptions malgaches, ce n’est pas la vérité de l’historiographie, dont on voit bien qu’elle ne résoudra rien des ombres de la mémoire ni de la dimension symbolique de l’événement. C’est peut-être la voix alternative de la rumeur, ce « tabataba », ce bruit sourd, permanent, varié et variable, tantôt ténu, tantôt éclatant, tantôt victimaire, tantôt héroïque, qui est importante.

For as we try to balance denial and commemoration, the balance between France's reinterpretations of the events and the Malagasy people's various perceptions, what is crucial is not the truth in historiography. That clearly resolves nothing when it comes to the shadows of memory or the event's symbolism. Perhaps it is the rumor as an alternative voice, the “tabataba” – this muffled, continuous, multifaceted sound, ever-changing from restrained to deafening and from victimized to heroic – that is more important.

February 05 2014

Four Months in Jail and Counting for Algerian Blogger Who Criticized President

Algerian blogger Abdelghani Aloui has been in jail since September 25, 2013. His crime? Sharing images on Facebook that are caricatures of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

Since his arrest, the 24-year-old has been detained in Serkadji prison of Algiers, the capital city of Algeria, a prison known for hosting terrorists and criminals. A trial has yet to take place for Abdelghani Aloui.

caricature aloui boutef

“Blogs: No Mocking Allowed” says this poster. The poster shows Aloui on the right and one of the photo he posted on the left. The poster was originally published on the weekly online El Watan Weekend following the activist arrest then republished by the blog “Chouf el Djazair”- Posted with the permission of Chouf el Djazair's author.

Like many other young people who make up the the majority of the Algerian society, Aloui believed or was made to believe that his country was different from Syria, Libya or other authoritarian countries. But after he exercised his right to express himself on social networks, he was arrested by Algerian police and was placed under custody warrant, a type of preventive detention that appears to have become indefinite in Aloui's case. Demands for his provisional release have been refused several times by the district attorney of Sidi M'hamed in Algiers, the latest being on October 9, 2013.

Aloui was first charged with insulting the president, a charge of glorifying terrorism was added later on. In this French-language video, one the Aloui's lawyers explains that he believes his client is innocent of the charges against him. The lawyer states that he took his case because he believes Aloui is being harassed because of a political agenda and not because he broke any laws:

Many people, from activists to netizens, embraced Aloui's case and asked for his release. An online petition [fr] condemning the abuse of authority regarding his arrest was even created. The text of the petition read:

Ces graves dérives autoritaires qui portent atteinte aux acquis démocratiques des Algériens doivent sans cesse être dénoncées et combattues, afin que les citoyens algériens accèdent à une Algérie de droit, dans laquelle les libertés individuelles et collectives sont respectées

These dangerous authoritarian abuses that violate the democratic gains of all Algerians should always be denounced and fought so that Algerian citizens can fully live in an Algerian state where individual and collective freedoms are respected.

Philip Luther, the Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, links this case to the upcoming elections in Algeria:

The Algerian authorities appear to be trying to stifle criticism at a time of uncertainty ahead of presidential elections due next year.

Unfortunately, public mobilization around the case seems to be faltering. Many human rights activists in Algeria are afraid that Aloui's case will fade into oblivion. Indeed, the Algerian regime is orchestrating a campaign calling Aloui a dangerous terrorist supporting jihad, or the holy struggle against the enemies of Islam. To support this idea and assert Aloui's guilt, a video of him praising jihad was posted on YouTube:

Amine Sidhoum, Aloui's laywer, immediately slammed the video as a fake and denounced it as an alleged manipulation. The objective of the video, he said, is to discredit Aloui by portraying him as an Islamist. Sidhoum also raised doubts about the true identity of the user, who posted the video on Facebook under the name “Malik Liberter“, Aloui's nickname on YouTube. Sidhoum argues that someone used Aloui's YouTube nickname on Facebook to post videos that would implicate Aloui. Interviewed by Algerie Focus, Sidhoum noted:

On entend trois voix différentes sur cette vidéo et le décalage entre les lèvres d’Abdelghani et le son est flagrant. De plus, mon client a arrêté sa scolarité à la 9ème, à 15 ans, il ne maîtrise donc pas assez l’arabe classique pour tenir un tel discours sans note

We hear three different voices in this video and the mismatch between Abedelghani's lips and the actual sound is blatant. Moreover, my client stopped schooling at the age of 15. His command of classical Arabic is not good enough for him to hold such a speech without cue cards.

Algerian authorities are doing their best to make the public forget that Aloui was originally arrested for “insults against the President of the Republic,” which is far removed from conducting a terrorist act. To put things into historical perspective, in the 1990s Algeria suffered a violent civil war between Islamists and the state. Anyone contesting the legitimacy of the regime back then would automatically be labelled a terrorist.

After four months in jail, Aloui's future is gloomier than ever, especially if one considers that Article 87-bis of the Penal Code that deals with “the proponents of terrorism” remains vague and can often lead to dangerous interpretations. From Facebook to prison, the tragic fate of this Algerian cyber-activist proves that the so-called promise of ”democracy and freedom” waved by the Algerian regime might just be a front.

February 04 2014

Four Months in Jail and Counting for Algerian Blogger Who Criticized President

Algerian Abdelghani Aloui has been in jail since September 25, 2013. His crime? Sharing images on Facebook that are caricatures of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. 

Since his arrest, the 24-year-old blogger has been detained in Serkadji prison of Algiers, the capital city of Algeria, a prison known for hosting terrorists and criminals. A trial has yet to take place for Abdelghani Aloui.

caricature aloui boutef

“Blogs: No Mocking Allowed” says this poster. The poster shows Aloui on the right and one of the photo he posted on the left. The poster was originally published on the weekly online El Watan Weekend following the activist arrest then republished by the blog “Chouf el Djazair”- Posted with the permission of Chouf el Djazair's author.

 

Like many other young Algerians who make up the the majority of the Algerian society, Aloui believed or was made to believe that his country was different from Syria, Libya or other countries ruled by dictators. But after he exercised his right to express himself on social networks, he was arrested by Algerian police and was placed under custody warrant, a type of preventive detention that appears to have become indefinite in Aloui's case. Demands for his provisional release have been refused several times by the district attorney of Sidi M'hamed in Algiers, the latest being on October 9, 2013.

Aloui was first charged with insulting the president, and later a charge of glorifying terrorism was added on. In this French-language video, one the Aloui's lawyers explains that he believes his client is innocent of the charges against him.  The lawyer stated that he accepted to take his case because he believes Aloui is being harassed because of a political agenda and not because he broke any laws:

Many people, from activists to netizens, embraced Aloui's case and asked for his release. An online petition [fr] condemning the abuse of authority regarding his arrest was even created. The text of the petition read:

Ces graves dérives autoritaires qui portent atteinte aux acquis démocratiques des Algériens doivent sans cesse être dénoncées et combattues, afin que les citoyens algériens accèdent à une Algérie de droit, dans laquelle les libertés individuelles et collectives sont respectées

These dangerous authoritarian abuses that violate the democratic gains of all Algerians should always be denounced and fought so that Algerian citizens can fully live in an Algerian state where individual and collective freedoms are respected.

Philip Luther, the Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, links this case to the upcoming elections in Algeria

The Algerian authorities appear to be trying to stifle criticism at a time of uncertainty ahead of presidential elections due next year.

Unfortunately, this public mobilization seems to be fading out. Many human rights activists in Algeria are afraid that Aloui's case will fade into oblivion. Indeed, the Algerian regime is orchestrating a campaign calling Aloui a dangerous terrorist supporting jihad, or the holy struggle against the enemies of Islam. To support this idea and assert Aloui's guilt, a video of him praising jihad was posted on YouTube:  

Amine Sidhoum, Aloui's laywer, immediately slammed the video as fake and denounced it as an alleged manipulation. The objective of the video, he said, is to discredit Aloui by portraying him as an Islamist. Sidhoum also raised doubts about the true identity of the user, who posted the video on Facebook under the name “Malik Liberter“, Aloui's nickname on YouTube. Sidhoum argues that someone used Aloui's Youtube nickname on Facebook to post videos that would implicate Aloui. Interviewed by Algerie Focus, Sidhoum noted:

On entend trois voix différentes sur cette vidéo et le décalage entre les lèvres d’Abdelghani et le son est flagrant. De plus, mon client a arrêté sa scolarité à la 9ème, à 15 ans, il ne maîtrise donc pas assez l’arabe classique pour tenir un tel discours sans note

We hear three different voices in this video and the mismatch between Abedelghani's lips and the actual sound is blatant. Moreover, my client stopped schooling at the age of 15. His command of classical Arabic is not good enough for him to hold such a speech without cue cards.

Algerian authorities are doing their best to make the public forget that Aloui was originally arrested for “insults against the President of the Republic”, which is far removed from conducting a terrorist act. To put things into historical perspective, in the 1990s Algeria suffered a violent civil war between Islamists and the state. Anyone contesting the legitimacy of the regime back then would automatically be labelled a ‘terrorist. 

After four months in jail, Aloui's future is gloomier than ever, especially if one considers that Article 87-bis of the Penal Code that deals with “the proponents of terrorism” remains quite vague and can often lead to dangerous interpretations. From Facebook to prison, the tragic fate of this Algerian cyber-activist proves that the so-called promise of ”democracy and freedom” waved by the Algerian regime might just be a front.  

January 31 2014

Citizen Journalists Expose Police Brutality During Protests in Algeria

For the first time in Algeria's modern history, the certainties of the established police state were dealt a severe blow by cyber-activists. Young Algerians are resorting to new technologies and a wide range of tools offered by the Internet to speak out against the tyranny of law enforcement and protect human rights.

It all started at the end of November 2013 when protests rattled the tranquility and peace of the town of El Guerrara in Wilayah district of Ghardaïa Province, more than 600 kilometers south of the Algerian capital Algiers. In that city, where unemployment, deprivation, hardship and precariousness are part of the daily routine, resides a religious community called the Ibadites. Their religious beliefs differ slightly from the majority of Algerians’ faith, who are followers of Sunni Islam. Ibadites are routinely victims of discrimination and injustice from the Algerian political authorities.

Capture d'écran des gendarmes lors des affrontements

Screen capture of the police during the clashes from the video clips in El Guerrara

For every Ibadites protest demanding better life conditions, authorities would crack down on protesters, arrest them, take them to police stations and subject them to beatings and torture. In the absence of factual evidence, it was difficult for civil society to force public authorities to sanction the law enforcement agents perpetuating those acts.

However, the youth of the region are well aware of the impact that the Internet can bring when it comes to defend and protect human rights. Very quickly, citizen journalists, most often members of activist networks, used their mobile phones to capture scenes of police repression and collect testimonies of young men tortured and beaten by the police, as seen in the following video:  

The clips were posted on YouTube and quickly went viral on the Algerian web. A police officer who was also a member of a cyber-militant group went as far as to secretly tape his colleagues commenting and revealing confidential information on the abusive arrests and torture practices of the riot police. The video was soon posted on YouTube with explanatory comments showing how some activists were detained and tortured. It sparked a public outcry.

At the beginning of January 2014, massive protests of this sectarian conflict opposing Mozabites, a Berber minority and Ibadites against Arab Sunni spread to the city of Ghardaïa, in the same Wilayah. Netizens were there as well to expose the racist and brutal practices perpetrated by some Algerian police officers:  

Again, netizens videos and reports contributed to shedding the light on the abuses of law enforcement. The following video clip shows how police officers protected Arab rioters and attacked only Mozabite protesters:

The scandal has earned a global buzz. Videos and testimonies of cyber-activists reached international media. On Facebook, where around 4.5 million Algerians have a Facebook account, the pages of activists also relayed the information from Ghardaïa. The underlying reasons for the tension in city are addressed [fr] in a blog post Les Observateurs :

Les policiers sont de fait impliqués dans ces tensions car ils sont, pour la majorité, issus de la communauté arabe de Ghardaïa et des villes voisines. Ce qui explique le fait qu’ils prennent parti pour les Arabes. Contrairement à eux, les gendarmes sont bien accueillis par la communauté mozabite.

Police officers are by default involved in these tensions because they belong in their majority to the Sunni sect in Ghardaïa and its neighboring towns. This explains their taking sides with the Arabs.

The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) [ar, fr] used the power  of these videos, articles and written testimonies  to alert public opinion at both national and international levels [fr]. It succeeded in obtaining information proving that:

l’attitude scandaleuse de certains agents des forces de police que ce soit lors du conflit (gestes obscènes, comportement et propos racistes etc) ou lors de l’arrestation des Algériens Mozabites (jeter de l’eau froide sur des détenus, les obliger à se déshabiller, les obliger à mimer des attitudes obscènes) laissent croire que les forces de police Algériennes se comportent comme les forces d’occupation Américaine en Irak notamment dans la prison d’Abu Ghraib!

The scandalous attitude of some police agents whether during the conflict (obscene acts, racists comments and behavior, etc) or during the arrest of Algerian Mozabites (i.e. throwing cold water on detainees, forcing them to take off their clothes or to perform obscene acts) may lead to the assumption that Algerian police forces behaved like the American occupying forces in Iraq, namely in Abu Ghraib prison.

The following video shows police forces surrounding a Mozabite protester and beating him repeatedly [ar]:

Well aware of these recurrent scandals, Algerian authorities are starting to investigate these events. They went as far as sanctioning and suing police officers “suspected of having taken sides during Ghardaïa events”, according to the General Security Directorate that monitors all of Algeria's police services. Other investigations are also being instigated. Thanks to the mobilization of cyber-journalists, police abuse will not remain in the shadows any longer. Cyber-activists won a big battle against the Algerian regime. They even succeeded in making it yield by demanding an investigation regarding these events.

For now, this is an important victory for the proponents of the defense of human rights in Algeria. 

November 21 2013

PHOTOS: The Thrill and Agony of World Cup Qualifying Matches

A few do-or-die matches to qualify for the 2014 World Cup were played worldwide last week in Africa and Europe. Despite the of-repeated claim that those games are just that, games, how people behave before and after some matches show that there is a little more at stake that what everyone would like it to be.

Here are reactions caught on film from four of those deciding matches, which ended in complete elation for Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and France, while Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ukraine and Tunisia saw their hopes of heading to Brazil vanish with the final whistle.

Algeria vs. Burkina Faso

Algeria qualified thanks to a late goal scored on Burkina Faso in additional time.

The crowd in Algiers felt the World Cup fever, as seen in this photo by Twitter user Bilel.:

Photo taken in Algeria, we are totally invested in this #AlgeriainBrazil, my face!

Algerian bloggers added humor to the joy of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil:

The tension during the first leg of the match-up on October 12 led some supporters to resort to racial insults towards the black referee, as captured in these screenshots by Paulin Diasivi:

During the match Burkina vs Algeria, some racists tweets by Algerian supporters

Côte d'Ivoire vs. Senegal

Côte d'Ivoire was also involved in late game drama when they managed to tie Senegal in Dakar 1-1 to qualify. The joy was visible in the team's dance as the game came to an end:

Côte d'Ivoire pull out a win after 90 minutes of play, the Elephants will go to Brazil

Brazil, here we come

Cameroon vs. Tunisia

Cameroon's World Cup play-off win over Tunisia was less dramatic with a 4-1 victory. Still, there was a bit controversy as Tunisia claims that two Cameroonian players were not eligible to play. Yaoundé, the economic capital of Cameroon, nevertheless was still beaming with pride after the win:

Cameroon is heading to the World Cup

Given the political dissidence in Tunisia, some supporters may not be as sad as expected with the elimination of their national team. The current government is quite unpopular within  the country's secular community because of stricter religious measures, and a win for the country's football team could have been seen as a win for the government : 

Cameroon 4-1 Tunisia, the hypocrites on “Twitter” [ed's note: pretend to be sad while cheering the elimination of Tunisia] vs. ”at home”, fess up now…LOL 

France vs. Ukraine

France had the deepest hole to climb out of to qualify after they lost the first leg 2-0 against Ukraine. In an miraculous come back, France won 3-0 in the second leg of the match-up, prompting raucous celebration from French fans and shows of despair from Ukrainian supporters:

Tonight, the stadium was shaking! The images from the crowd #Brazil

May 27 2013

Hackers in Arab Cities: Slow Internet and Girl Power in Algeria

[All link lead to French-language pages unless otherwise indicated]

Sabine is a journalist. Ophelia is a photographer and a filmmaker. Both are contributors to the former digital culture and data journalism outfit OWNI, which was a Global Voices media partner in France, and are currently shooting a Web documentary entitled ”Les hackers dans la cité arabe (Hackers in Arab Cities) about technology, applications, hacklabs and makerspaces that are blossoming nowadays in the Maghreb and the Middle East.

In this post, the second of our mini-series detailing their adventures, we feature excerpts of their interviews with young Algerian computer specialists whom they met at the Ecole Supérieure d'Informatique d'Alger (ESI, the IT Graduate School of Algiers).

Text by Sabine Blanc; Photos by Ophélia Noor; Excerpts chosen and edited by Claire Ulrich.

Yazid : A start-up in 54 hours only?

Yazid is 20 years old. Behind his shy voice, there is an adamant desire to establish his own start-up. Along with four other students in their final years of school, he has started working on creating a platform to connect between service providers and prospective clients. Yazid explains his entrepreneurial frenzy:

Internet est un terrain vierge, j’ai 5 à 10 ans pour monter ma start-up.

Internet is a blank state here, I have 5 to 10 years to establish my start-up.

To demonstrate his point and give us an example of the challenges ahead, he points out that his parents are paying 12 euros per month (about 16 US dollars) for a 256 KB Internet connection. A standard connection of 10 MB would therefore cost 30 euros per month (about 39 US dollars). Algeria infamously has the slowest Internet speed in the world, ranked last out of 176 countries last year. To get online in his dorm room in Algiers, he is secretly using his neighbour's connection.

A wall of the ESI scientific local club in Algiers. Photo by Ophelia Noor. Used with permission.

Aside from his project, Yazid tells us about another oddity of the Algerian Internet — there is no e-commerce. To be remunerated, there is a user account system through money-order with a point system: to get a contact, one has to purchase points. Needless to say, this obsolete system is angering many:

Il y a une grosse pression des chefs d’entreprise pour déréguler.

Business leaders are pushing hard to change this system

While waiting for the proverbial Godot, Yazid relies among other things on the support of the public cyberparc (National Agency for the Promotion and Development of Tech Parks) [fr]. Located in the new town of Sidi-Abdellah, 30 kilometers south of Algiers, that public organism is proof that the administration here has a real interest in information technology.

The location also host events such as Algeria 2.0. The first edition took place last year and a second one is scheduled this year. Similarly, a ‘start-up weekend’ was organized for this coming summer by the government. Among the sponsors for the events are the usual industry heavyweights Google and Microsoft.

But listening to youth complain about the administrative obstacles faced when attempting to establish a company, we can't help but wonder whether the pitch for the start up week-end “créer une start-up en 54 heures” (create a start-up in 54 hours) might be a silly joke by the schizophrenic government. Let's wait and see if it will stick to its promise of making life easier for entrepreneurs or as they usually do, keep it in the back burner.

Yasmine Bouchène : “It's the era of girl power!”

Even though she is just 22 years old, Yasmine Bouchène has already created two webzines – Jam Mag [fr] on ”geek culture and new technologies” and Vinyculture, ”a cultural webzine”. Now she wants to establish a company dedicated to marketing and communications. For Yasmine, black irony has become a daily sport.

Yasmine Bouchène, Algiers, December 2012. Photo by Ophelia Noor. Used with permission

The current digital situation in Algeria drives her to despair — the mere idea of beginning the process of starting up her agency makes her sweat:

e-Algeria 2013, un programme de numérisation du pays lancé voilà cinq ans, a été un échec. Le dossier de la 3G, c’est 5 ans d’effet d’annonce. Et le web n’existe pas dans la nomenclature administrative !

e-Algeria 2013, a digitisation programme launched in the country 5 years ago, turned out to be a fiasco. 3G was heralded 5 years ago. Not to mention that public administration lacks any web presence !

A few days after our discussion, she wrote a short piece [fr] on the launching of 3G in Somalia, while slamming the Algerian government:

En proie à une guerre civile depuis dix ans, la Somalie n’a pour autant pas ignoré le développement de son secteur économique, à commencer par les télécommunications, secteur qui compte des millions d’abonnés.

Marred by an ongoing civil war for ten years, Somalia didn't overlook the development of its economy, starting with telecommunications, a sector with millions of subscribers.

Une participante à l'atelier JerryCan à l'ESI d'Alger

A participant in the JerryCan workshop at the ESI in Algier. Photo by Ophelia Noor. Used with permission

The Algerian state seems to be winning the power struggle between the private and public sector via national provider Algeria Telecom. But things weren't always like this. The country also has its free tablet, the Eepad. The first and sole private access provider in Algeria entered the market in 1999, when competition was officially allowed. In 2003, it started offering ADSL followed by Assilabox, its Freebox.

Yasmine calls for caution when reading and analyzing the official number of Internet subscribers as claimed by the government. ”One should consider the figures of the IUT (Telecom International Union),” she says. According to them, only 14 percent of Algerians are using Internet in 2011.

Her spirits are lifted, however, when she speaks about women. Laughing at our astonishment in seeing so many girls at ESI, she brags:

C’est le girl power, on s’amuse bien ! Les années 90 nous ont beaucoup aidées : les féministes sont montées au combat et un socle d’idées est resté. La ministre de la Culture Khalida Toumi est une féministe, en poste depuis dix ans.

It's girl power, we are having a lot of fun. The 90′s helped us a lot: feminists lead the struggle and some core ideas have persisted. Culture Minister Khalida Toumi is a feminist, she has been in office for ten years.

Recently, some concessions were made by the government. ”They don't have a choice”, she points out. After 19 years serving in the government, ten of which as education minister, Boubekeur Benbouzid resigned from his post. A campaign entitled #BenBouzidDégage (Benbouzid clear off!) was launched on Twitter and Yasmina wants to believe that it was efficient.

The liberalization of media is apparently on its way and a new text is expected by mid-2013, Yasmine rejoices. [...] Yasmine recalls the difficulties in holding reunions in the past. After the state of emergency law n° 91-19 of 1991 was lifted, this law that rules over the right to hold peaceful meetings was enforced yet again later. It is a very strict law as Franck La Rue (United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of the Freedom of Expression & Opinion) assessed in a mission report issued last June. But Yasmine explains:

La vraie censure, c’est la lenteur de la connexion Internet. Il y a eu des tentatives de censure lors des émeutes : ils n’avaient pas grand chose à censurer. Le gars qui est à 512 ko… Mais ça montrait qu’ils avaient peur.

The real censure is the slow speed of the Internet connection. During the riots, some attempts at censure were made. But there wasn't much to censure. The guy was using 512 kilo octets/sec internet speed … but this showed that they (the authorities) were afraid.

Original article published on 28 January, 2013 [fr] by Sabine and Ophelia on their blog “Hackers in Arab Cities”. Read the first post in this mini-series by clicking here.

March 11 2013

British Security Firm Profits from Mali War

Ramzy Baroud writes [fr] about the conflict in Mali on Pambazuka:

British security firm G4S will rake in enormous profits due to the crisis taking place in Mali, Libya and Algeria. Recognized as the biggest security firm in the world, the group was downgraded at the time of the Olympic Games in London last year, as a result of its inability to meet the terms of a government contract. However, with the growing instability in Northern and Western Africa, it is expected that the firm will make a strong recovery in the near future.

March 10 2013

The State of Torture in the World in 2013

On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:

“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.

March 04 2013

The Conflict in Mali: Who is Fighting Whom, and Why?

Since the bloody conflict in Mali began one year ago, the crisis has evolved in fits and starts, all the while immersed in a historical framework that the mainstream media too often oversimplifies. Here we will try to unpack the complexities of the conflict by putting into context the violent fighting currently engulfing the northern African country.

The conflict in the north of Mali pits the Malian army and its allies against many rebels groups fighting for greater autonomy or independence in the region. These groups include Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in Western Africa, and Ansar Dine, and Tuareg nomads who belong to the political and military Azawad National Liberation Movement.

Let's try to look at what the real causes of the war in Mali are [fr]:

Tout était en place pour que le Mali s’effondre et que le Sahel explose. Affaibli par les politiques d’austérité du FMI, longtemps paralysé par la Françafrique, victime du réchauffement climatique et de multiples sécheresses, le Mali est devenu l’une des pièces centrales du nouveau grand jeu sahélien. Revendication touarègue, djihadistes enrichis par le narcotrafic, déstabilisation libyenne et ambiguïtés algériennes, financements occultes saoudiens, stratégie à court terme des États-Unis et de l’Union européenne… Voici toutes les raisons de la guerre.

Everything was ripe for Mali to collapse and for Sahel to explode. Weakened by austerity policies that had been imposed by the IMF [fr], paralyzed for so long by the policies of Françafrique, and a victim of global warming [fr] and multiple droughts [fr], Mali became one of the key players in the great new Sahelian game. The Tuareg demands; the Jihadis who had become powerful from drug trafficking; the destabilization of Libya and the uncertainty in Algeria; hidden investments from Saudi Arabia; short-sighted strategies of the United States and Europe… These are all the reasons for the war.

Timbuktu residents protest against extremism on Wikpedia CC-License

Timbuktu residents protest against extremism on Wikipedia CC-License-2.0

How did modern Mali come to be? Mouhamadou el Hady Ba and Pierre Amath Mbaye in their work “The Malian crisis and lessons for Senegal” [fr] explain how Mali emerged from the post-colonial failure of a federation in the region [fr]:

Conscients des risques liés à une fragmentation de la région et suivant leur idéal panafricaniste, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Mamadou Dia, Modibo Keïta et d’autres dirigeants avaient pourtant formé l’idée de reprendre l’ensemble constitué par l’administration coloniale, l’Afrique Occidentale Française, en le portant vers l’indépendance sous la forme d’une fédération. … l’opposition marquée des autorités françaises de l’époque associée à celle de Félix Houphouët Boigny futur Chef de l’Etat ivoirien, réduiront cette fédération à un face à face entre le Soudan français (aujourd’hui Mali)  et le Sénégal, au sein de la Fédération du Mali . Cette tentative échouera sur fond d’options politiques différentes et de compétition pour le pouvoir, avec, en arrière-plan, l’engagement du Mali aux côtés des partisans algériens, lors de leur guerre d’indépendance. Le 20 aout 1960, voit donc s’éteindre avec la dissolution de la Fédération du Mali …

Keenly aware of the risks tied to a fragmented region, and following their Pan-African ideals, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Mamadou Dia, Modibo Keïta and other leaders still had the idea to carry on with the group that had made up the colonial administration known as l’Afrique Occidentale Française, by pushing for independence as a federation. …However, there was strong opposition from the French authorities, which at the time were linked to Félix Houphouët Boigny — an eventual Head of State of Côte d'Ivoire. This gave rise to a power struggle between French Sudan (today Mali) and Senegal, within the Mali Federation. This attempt at federation would eventually fail based on various political options and power struggles, while the Malian engagement in support of Algerian independence played out in the background. August 20, 1960, ends with the dissolution of the Federation of Mali…

Eros Sana on bastamag.net continues in his article, Mali : les véritables causes de la guerre (Mali: the Real Causes of the War [fr]) describing how Mali then experienced a brief window of socialism before a military coup brought a dictator to power:

Nous sommes en 1960, le Mali accède à l’indépendance. Le premier président malien, Modibo Keïta, instituteur et panafricaniste, élu démocratiquement, a à peine le temps d’entamer une profonde réforme agraire avant d’être renversé en 1968 lors d’un coup d’état mené par Moussa Traoré, soutenu par la France. [Les vingt-trois ans de règne seront sanglants]. Moussa Traoré ne se contente pas d’appauvrir et d’affamer son peuple, il mène aussi une forte répression contre la minorité Touareg du Mali. Les Touaregs représentent environ 2 % de la population malienne. Ils sont également présents au Niger, au Burkina-Faso, en Mauritanie, en Libye et en Algérie.

We are in 1960, Mali is gaining independence. The first president of Mali, Modibo Keïta, teacher and Pan-Africanist, democratically elected, barely has time to begin sweeping agricultural reforms before being overthrown in 1968 during a France-backed coup d’état orchestrated by Moussa Traoré. (The 23 years of rule that followed would be bloody). Moussa Traoré was not happy with simply impoverishing and starving his people, he also carried out powerful repressive measures against the Tuareg minority group in Mali. The Tuaregs represented about 2 percent of the Malian population. They are also present in Niger, Burkina-Faso, Mauritania, Libya and in Algeria.

Mouhamadou el Hady Ba and Pierre Amath Mbaye add another important factor to the equation: the rise of drug trafficking [fr]:

L’Afrique de l’ouest est ainsi devenue un espace stratégique de négoce des stupéfiants, à la suite du renforcement de la répression aux Etats-Unis et au Canada. Cette situation va amener les narcotrafiquants à se redéployer vers l’Europe en trouvant de nouvelles routes, et à exploiter le potentiel de corruptibilité de l’Administration des Etats de la région pour assurer leur tranquillité. En 2009, la drogue était expédiée de Colombie, du Venezuela et du Brésil, et arrivait par les ports de Guinée Bissau et du Cap-Vert au Nord, et ceux du Ghana au Sud. Les cargaisons étaient ensuite réparties entre le Nigéria, la Guinée, le Sénégal, la Mauritanie, puis, remontaient vers le Maroc et l’Algérie. En novembre de la même année, le monde entier découvrait l’atterrissage clandestin dans le nord du Mali d’un triréacteur Boeing 727 chargé de cocaïne, l’évènement donnant lieu à une affaire popularisée sous le nom d’Air Cocaïne, avec des ramifications en Amérique du sud et en Europe. Un symbole stupéfiant d’insertion de l’Afrique dans l’économie mondialisée, pourrait-on dire avec malice, si la situation n’était à ce point inquiétante.

And so, West Africa became a strategic point for the drug trade, following heightened efforts to snuff it out in the US and Canada. This situation would eventually cause drug traffickers to focus their efforts more on Europe by finding new routes, and to exploit the state administrations of the region that were susceptible to corruption, in exchange for guaranteeing peace. In 2009, drugs were exported from Colombia, Venezuela, and Brasil, and arrived at ports in Guinea-Bissau and Cape-Verde in the north, and at those of Ghana in the south. The cargo was then split up between Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, and reassembled once again near Morocco and Algeria. In November of the same year, the entire world would come to know of the clandestine landing of a three-engine Boeing 727 loaded with cocaine. The event gave rise to a scandal popularly known as Air Cocaine, which had repercussions in South America and Europe. A confounding symbol of Africa's insertion in the world economy, one may say mischievously, if the situation had not been so perplexing.

With respect to Saudi influence, Sahel expert Maurice Freund explained in an interview on website Afrik.com that Islamic extremism began to take root more than two decades ago when Saudi-financed organizations helped Malian people where their government failed them. “It's too late for Mali, we should have acted 20 years ago!” he said:

Il y a déjà plus de 20 ans, je rencontrais des Pakistanais et des Soudanais financés par les Saoudiens qui prêchaient le wahhabisme sous forme d’organisation humanitaire, en effectuant la construction de puits, de mosquées. Ils comblaient les carences des autorités dans le domaine social. D’où la prolifération des djihadistes. Le développement du wahhabisme dans le nord-Mali a commencé il y a déjà 25 ans.

More than 20 years ago now, I met Pakistanis and Sudanese people financed by Saudis. They preached [ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam] Wahhabism through humanitarian organizations by building wells and mosques. They made up for the shortcomings of the authorities on the social level. Hence the proliferation of the Jihadist movement. Wahabbism in the north of Mali began 25 years ago.

While trying to trace the genesis of the Djihadi movement in Sahel,  Abou Djaffar explains on his blog that:

En 1996, pourtant, il ne s’agissait même pas d’un front secondaire, mais simplement de l’arrière-cour de la guerre civile algérienne.

In 1996, however, it wasn't even a question of a being secondary front in the Algerian civil war, but it was in fact the Algerian civil war that just extended in the backyard.

Repercussions [fr] of the overthrow of Muammar Kadhafi, who supplied Mali with large amounts of funding, during the Libyan Civil War in 2011 added to the volatile situation brewing in Mali, Eros Sana writes:

En plus d’investissements lourds, Kadhafi multiplie les financements à petite échelle : écoles, dispensaires ou routes dans l’ensemble du Mali. Lorsque Kadhafi et son régime disparaissent, ce sont d’un côté de très nombreuses armes et des centaines d’hommes aguerris qui s’exilent dans le Sahel ; et de l’autre, des flux de plusieurs centaines de milliers d’euros qui se tarissent. Pour un pays dont plus de la moitié de la population vit avec moins d’un dollar par jour, c’est une importante manne qui s’envole. Après avoir appuyé militairement le renversement du régime libyen, les puissances de l’Otan auraient dû prévoir ce vide causé par la chute du colonel et le combler. Cela n’a pas été fait.

Aside from large investments, Kadhafi increased financing on the smaller scale: schools, health centers, roads throughout all of Mali. When Kadhafi and his regime disappeared, there was, on one side a large number of weapons, and hundreds of hardened men who were exiled in the Sahel region; and on the other side the evaporation of several hundred thousands of euros that had once flowed in. For a country where half of the population lives on less than one dollar a day, it is an important source of bread and butter that disappears. After having lent military support to the overthrow of the Libyan regime the NATO forces should have foreseen this vacuum that was was caused by the fall of the Colonel and worked to address it. That was not done.

Twitter user @Abdou_diarra foresaw on his blog the creation of new regions [fr] in northern Mali prior to the military coup that would overthrow President Amadou Toumani Touré in March 2012:

Blogger ASKIAMOHAMED writes about the Tuareg [fr] and their demands::

Elle commence le 17 janvier 2012 soit 2 mois avant le coup de force à Bamako, les rebelles attaquent Menaka, Tessalit et Aguel’hoc avant d’y être chassés par l’armée malienne.
Un véritable jeu de chaises musicales a lieu durant près de un mois dans les villes à la frontière algérienne entre l’armée, le Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) ainsi que le groupe Ansar Dine et leurs alliés d’ al Qaida au Maghreb islamique.

Le massacre de militaires maliens par les rebelles et leurs alliés à Aguel’hoc, à l’arme blanche va profondément choquer le peuple malien et mettre à jour les failles de l’armée et l’animosité de cette rébellion.

Début avril le coup d’état consommé le MNLA et leurs alliés islamistes contrôlent les deux tiers du Mali, l’armée malienne désorganisée par le coup ayant déserté.

En effet le coup d’état a désorganisé la chaine de commandement de l’armée et a mis à jour la fragilité de cette dernière et a donc conduit à cette débandade ou « retrait stratégique ».

Le MNLA proclame l’indépendance de cette zone le 6 avril 2012 car elle considère que c’est le berceau de la civilisation touareg, un fait inédit dans l’histoire car aucun peuple nomade ne s’est jamais réclamé d’un territoire avec des frontières bien dessinées.

De plus historiquement sur cette terre il y avait l’empire Songhaï fondé à Koukia au 7ieme siècle, par les Sonrhaïs, et les Berbères et dirigés par le chef Za el-Ayamen, qui fuyaient devant l’invasion arabe.

Ce métissage entre Sonrhaïs et Berbères donnera la dynastie des Dia. Puis vint la dynastie de Sonni ali ber et des Askia avec Gao pur capitale, avant de sombrer au 16ieme siecle sous l’invasion marocaine. Il y a également eu l’empire peul du Macina et l’empire toucouleur au 19ieme siècle. De plus de nombreuses tribus, Bozos (pécheurs) et dogons peuplaient cette zone.

Donc il n’y a aucune légitimité historique à cette demande.

It begins on the January 17, 2012, about two months before the showing of force at Bamako, the rebels attack Menaka, Tessalit, and Aguel’hoc before being driven out by the Malian Army.

A bonafide game of musical chairs takes place for almost one month in the towns on the Algerian border between the army, the National Azawad Liberation Movement (MNLA) as well as the group Ansar Dine and their Al-Qaeda allies from the Islamic Maghreb.

The massacre at knifepoint of Malian soldiers by Malian rebels and their allies at Aguel’hoc, severely shocks the Malian people and bring to light the failings of the army and the bitterness of this rebellion.

At the start of April, the coup [against President Amandou Toumani Touré] already executed, the MNLA and their Islamic allies control two-thirds of Mali. The Malian army, having been taken by the surprise by the coup, have deserted.

In fact, the coup ambushed the chain of command within the army and highlighted its vulnerability thereby driving this disbanding or “strategic withdrawal”.

The MNLA proclaims the independence of this zone on the April 6, 2012 because it believes that the region is the cradle of the Tuareg civilization, an unprecedented act because no nomadic people have ever claimed a territory with precisely defined borders.

Moreover, historically in this region there was the Songhai empire founded at Koukia in the 7th century by the Songhai and Berbers and led by chief Za el-Ayamen. They fled before the Arab invasion.

The mixing of Songhai and Berber people would eventually give rise to the Dia dynasty. After this came the Sonni Ali Ber dynasty and the Askia with Gao being the capital, before succumbing, in the 16th century to the Moroccan invasion. There was also the Massina Empire and the Toucouleur Empire of the 19th century. Not to mention various tribes, Bozos (a tribe of fishermen) and Dogons inhabited this zone. Therefore, there is no historical legitimacy to this demand.

It is in this context that France is intervening [fr] in its former colony to oust the Islamists, a move known as Operation Serval.

Though some think that France's intervention in Mali is driven purely by self interest, such as the author of this article entitled Nouvelles de la turbulence (News of the Unrest) [fr], such speculation [fr] should be treated with caution:

… il y aurait plus d’uranium au Mali qu’au Niger, et après avoir sécurisé les ressources libyennes (en excluant les émergents), les Français chercheraient à faire de même dans le Sahel. … qu’on ne fait pas de guerre pour des ressources qui ne sont encore que spéculatives, puisqu’on n’en connaît pas la quantité réelle et qu’on n’en voit pas encore la couleur. Arguments assez naïfs mais peut-être corrects pour le cas d’espèce.

Supposedly, there could be be more uranium in Mali than in Niger, and after having secured the Libyan resources (not counting those currently being currently explored), the French would be seeking to do the same thing in the Sahel region. …We wouldn't go to war for “potential” resources unless we knew the real quantity and quality of these resources. The resource-speculating arguments might be naive at first but perhaps not entirely off-base in this case.

Wirriyamu responds in this article Ne pas laisser dire (3) [fr] (Do not let it be said):

Je suis convaincu désormais que certains trouvent totalement anormal le soutien de l’opinion malienne, et au-delà africaine, à cette intervention. Ils mettent cette adhésion le plus souvent sur le dos de la naïveté ou de l’ignorance, c’est selon. Ce qui montre que beaucoup, trop nombreux à mon goût, pensent encore que les Africains n’ont pas leur place sur le chemin de l’histoire qui se fait sans eux, hors d’eux. Bref, ils subissent tout.

I am now convinced that some find the support of the Malian public, not to mention African support for this intervention, to be completely abnormal. They usually place the blame for this support squarely on the back of naivete or ignorance, as the case may be. This shows that many — too many for my taste — still think that Africans have had no active role in the course of history [fr]. It happens without them. In sum, they are victims.

January 28 2013

Naming the Victims of the Algerian Hostage Crisis

If the press have the energy to expose the names of victims and their pictures, why can't they pour the same energy into covering the information and wisdom that would prevent further tragedies?

A professor of Islamic studies Naito Masanori commented on Twitter [ja] about the press coverage of the Aménas hostage crisis in Algeria where 10 Japanese have allegedly been killed.

December 29 2012

MENA: Acclaimed Authors’ Favorites of 2012

M. Lynx Qualey, blogger, who is interested in Arab and Arabic literature, wrote a series of posts introducing acclaimed Arab poets, novelists, and short-story writers’ favorite Arab reads of 2012. She started with a list of nonfiction books, then followed by a list for poetry [En] and fiction [En].

December 07 2012

World Heritage Site Djemila, Algeria in Jeopardy

Roman city Djemila, Algeria by photo by rapidtravelchai on Fotopedia CC-license-BY

Algerian historian Nacéra Benseddik warns that the construction underway on the site of UNESCO World Heritage Site Djamila is endangering the archaeological ruins [fr]. Djamila is famous for for its unique adaptation of Roman architecture highlighted by an impressive arch.

November 29 2012

Algerian Rulers and Contemporary Performance Arts

Algerian blogger MnarviDZ writes:

The Algerian rulers are actually artists who invented the art of time stretching and we, the Algerian people, are all taking part in their performance. And as contemporary art doesn’t care much about beauty, happiness and stuff like this, the rulers chose to make their performance feel ugly, and this is why we are not enjoying it much. These rulers do take this art to its limits because we’re forced to watch (and endure) their art work forever.

November 12 2012

Coalition of African Nations Agrees to Send 3,300 Soldiers a year to Northern Mali

Seven African nations of ECOWAS namely Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo have agreed with Malian government [fr] to send 3,300 soldiers a year to Northern Mali to take back control of northern Mali from Islamist fighters. Other nations outside the ECOWAS might also send in troops.

November 02 2012

October 13 2012

Mali: MOJWA Threatens the Lives of Hostages and French President over Military Intervention

The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) via its speaker Oumar Ould Hamaha  has threatened the lives of hostages and French President [fr] because of the planned military intervention in Northern Mali that the UN security council has unanimously approved [fr]. Activist associations Coren and the FDR organized a march on October 12 in Bamako [fr] to support the military intervention. After being initially reluctant [fr], Algeria has also approved military actions.

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