These posts ask questions about issues that are relevant to Algeria and/ or the Arab World and invite readers to post their answers to them. It is hoped that such interaction would help shed light on the question asked from many perspectives.
Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion- science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth- science- which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
This excerpt is from Leo Tolstoy‘s War and Peace, and I remember that when I read it I immediately thought Tolstoy didn’t know us Algerians for he would’ve mentioned us otherwise. While smiling at my own thought, I questioned it and wondered whether we are self-confident or not. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, during the In Amenas hostages crisis, audiences of foreign TV channels witnessed something very rare. These channels showed images provided by an Algerian TV channel, Ennahar TV. The private Algerian TV was the only to provide images of the gas plant, the Algerian military forces, etc.
The foreign public may not realise it but this is quite new to us Algerians.
Two years ago, the Algerian government agreed to let Algerian private operators create their TV channels. And like with many topics, the minister’s statement hasn’t been followed by the legislation, and the few private TV channels we have still transmit from outside the country. Continue reading →
The spelling is wrong, another illustration of our trilingual illiteracy, but the question remains valid. “Where is our future?” it says. I took the below picture in Bejaia, and next to that wall were sitting five or six young men, in their twenties. They played with their mobile phones and commented on the girls who passed by.
If they’re not the authors of the question, they do not have the answer. I wonder if they’re looking for one. Continue reading →
I have a short story to share with you. Several years ago, at the airport, I was finishing my coffee while the passengers started boarding. A police officer passed by and lit a cigarette. The airport was already a non-smoking place so, without thinking much, I rose up to remind him of the rule. But before reaching the man, I thought a little more and considered the risk of the officer not liking my comment and getting me into some petty trouble. I had an important meeting on the next day and couldn’t afford to miss my flight so I decided to keep silent.
I chose the status quo over change after weighing the pros and cons. The risk, tiny as it was, of missing my flight was big enough to hinder my initial action. Today, there are still a few airport employees and some passengers who smoke in non-smoking areas.
Someone even told me she saw policewomen smoke in Houari Boumediene airport’s bathrooms. Continue reading →
I wrote in the past about the visit of US department of state’s secretary to Algeria, and we all debated on the stance we take or should take as Algerians versus the US and their policies. Today’s post is one of those, rare, with information leaked to Patriots on Fire. We have indeed learnt that some shadowy US “representative”, and it is not Mr. Michael G. Vickers, met with the leader of one of the newly created parties. The meeting took place a few weeks ago and its objective was to decide how the US would help this party, should it win in the upcoming elections, get Algeria back on track and become America’s closest partner. A win-win agreement had been signed and the American side launched its plan as requested by the Algerian leader.
There was a news alert in yesterday’s El Khabar newspaper about Algerian Health Minister Ould-Abbas allegedly declaring that Viagra is ‘tasty’ and that Algeria plans to import it for cheaper prices from India. To the question on why Ould-Abbas intends to import Viagra while there is shortage of contraceptive pills (and I would have added vaccines and many other vital drugs), he replied that, as an Algerian citizen and not as a Health Minister, he wants the Algerian population to Continue reading →
Many videos on youtube speak about Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring events. This channel based in Qatar has been accused by many as being a collaborator with ‘foreign agents’ working to destabilize the region and serve the interests of foreign powers. I am posting here a specimen of such videos which I chose because it speaks specifically about what Al Jazeera’s plans are for Algeria:
So as expected after Medelci’s last visit to Washington, Hillary Clinton took a short trip to North Africa and spent some time in Algeria. While in Algiers, she encouraged the ruling system to make more reforms and declared that North African people deserve to decide for themselves. And taking the opportunity of this visit, the US embassy in Algiers invited some Algerians, considered as representatives of the civil society, to be present during state secretary’s speech. American administration’s interest in youths and civil societies has increased especially since the Arab Spring. A year ago, Clinton discussed through video conference with civil society representatives from 20 countries; and her special advisor for global youth issues, Ronan Farrow, visited Algerian computer sciences school, chatted with its students and had lunch with some youths. To the press, he explained his country’s interest in the world’s youths and made more important announcements.
When I was a teenager, I was a big fan of detective books and series. Columbo was one of them. I loved the way he seemed to flair the culprit right from the beginning and then the entire episode was a sort of subtle psychological battle. I loved the way the culprit was always confident he would get away with it, that he has committed a perfect crime, the way the culprit always underestimated Columbo. But of course, Columbo always had the last word. Brilliant. I think that Algerian elections, the whole ‘democratization process’ in fact, are analogical to the series Columbo – the culprit is the incumbent system; it displays all the superiority complex symptoms mentioned above. The people are Columbo, seemingly insignificant, clueless, but having the right flair and of course the last word eventually. So, in this second part of my previous post, I will borrow Columbo’s famous catchphrase: “There’s something that bothers me”:Continue reading →
The Algerian authorities are very busy preparing for the next legislative elections which are due this Spring. One of the major themes which crops again and again in televised programmes is how to tackle abstention. In Algeria, this means low voter-turnout and not simply casting a blank vote. The authorities seem intent this time on ensuring that voter-turnout is adequate (whatever adequate means). This is understandable of course as even a 100% vote doesn’t mean anything if only one person cast a vote (the candidate him/herself). In this video, which shows a part of a programme from the Algerian national TV, we see a legal expert urging citizens to go to vote and he does so by using very peculiar arguments:
I have not watched the entire programme, so it might be that this bit we see here being out of context, the impression we get from what this guy is saying is not accurate. Because if we take it at face value, Continue reading →