Many Algerian writers, too many of them in my opinion, concentrate in their writings on two specific periods: the colonisation/war of independence and the nineties, the black decade.
And I got fed up with them. This is why I was glad when I found Maissa Bey‘s novel “Blue White Green“. The novel relates a story which takes place between 1962 and 1992.
I actually don’t know what to think of it. I rarely appreciate novels written by Algerian (but not only) female writers. Whenever I read one I get the feeling it’s written by a woman for a feminine readership, unlike novels written by men which are suitable for both genders.
Anyway, the novel is written in the same style as “Voices“. Maissa Bey uses her two main characters, Lilas and Ali, to narrate the story. Each their turn. It starts in 1962 with a girl and a boy and evolves with them as they grow up, love each other, get married, have their child, and ends in 1992. Continue reading →
I have always considered French apology or repentance for what it did in Algeria as a strictly French affair. This is why I haven’t written about Francois Hollande’s visit to Algeria and his recognition of Algerian suffering during the colonial era. Also, the fact everyone I follow on Twitter kept mentioning it that day saturated me.
Today I happened to be in a French city where a joint celebration of Algeria’s fiftieth year of independence was organized. The celebration took place in the town hall in presence of the mayor, the Algerian consul, a representative of the French state, some diplomats and many other guests. I decided to attend so I could see how things go.
I was going to write something else today but I decided to share what I saw as somebody already wrote something like my original post.
So the ceremony started with a speech of the mayor followed by the consul and then the French state representative. Continue reading →
Medelci is the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs. This video has managed to anger many Algerians as what Medelci said in the French Parliament has been interpreted as an expression of regret that we are no longer French. Medelci explained his stance later by stating that what he said on this video was a mere historical fact – when the Treaty of Rome was signed, Algeria was still a French colony and therefore, Algeria could have become a member of the EU automatically had it not gained independence. I don’t really understand Medelci’s justification of what he said in this video. In my opinion and as the Algerian idom goes ‘dja eykahlel’ha, 3maha’ (he blinded his eye trying to apply khol, meaning he made the situation worse trying to improve it). How can he appeal to history when Continue reading →
I started this post almost a year ago and then forgot about it, and I remembered it only these days after reading the discussion that is going on here mainly between Oumelkheir and QatKhal. It is not 100% related but never mind, I just used it as an excuse to finish the post (write the last three lines) and publish it.
The sword and the cross
The relationship between religion and politics has always been very tight, and religious men have used politics as much as politicians have used religion to settle their power. Politicians do indeed need an ideology to support them and, while some have used “non-spiritual” ideologies such as secularism or communism, many others used existing religions or even created new ones to back-up their political systems.
Religion was also used to justify wars and gather and motivate the soldiers. Regardless of their real background, many wars were waged with mixed temporal and spiritual aspects.
I used the past tense here but I could have used present and my assertions would have remained as correct. And today as yesterday, religion is a central point in every conflict (armed or not), especially when a Muslim entity is involved.
Algeria’s recent history gives us many examples where conflicts were backed-up by different religions. Continue reading →
Two days ago Algeria has celebrated the 40th anniversary of the hydrocarbons’ nationalisations. Last year’s celebrations coincided with Sonatrach’s latest known of financial scandal which led, among other things, to the dismissal of one of Bouteflika’s best friends, Chakib Khelil. Things are different this year. Khelil’s successor, Youcef Yousfi, held the celebrations in Hassi Messaoud; and the city’s youths also celebrated the event by blocking the access to the oil plants. They demanded a share in the jobs that are created by the oil exploitation activity. Though the problem is more complex, it cannot be denied that the people of Southern Algeria are not the biggest beneficiaries of the hydrocarbons industry.
This anniversary triggered the idea of this post. A review of a book which talks of this very special and unique period of independent Algeria which witnessed this great achievement.
Ahmed Taleb-Ibrahimi‘s last political appearance in Algeria was in 1999 as a candidate to the presidential elections. He was then portrayed by some of his opponents as a retrograde Islamist who would gather former FIS sympathisers and replace the dissolved party (his party, WAFA, was never approved by the system). This accusation was backed by at least three points: he was supported by Mohand Said, he was Bachir Ibrahimi‘s son and he was Boumediene‘s minister of education when the Arabization process had started. Then Taleb, along all the other candidates opposing Bouteflika, withdrew his candidacy because it became clear that the system had already chosen Algeria’s current president. This withdrawal led Bouteflika’s supporters and many observers to accuse him and the other candidates of executing the DRS’s plan, the aim of which being to reduce Bouteflika’s influence after his plebiscite. Another attempt to candidacy in the 2004 elections wasn’t approved by Zerhouni’s services. Since then, Taleb decided to put an end to his political activities and dedicate his time to writing his memoirs. Continue reading →
The situation has calmed down in Algeria and things are going back to normal (read usual). Bouteflika, as always during tough moments when one would expect the president to speak to his people, has kept silent. Some even suggested he was dying (treating a stomach-ache) in a French or Swiss hospital. This was obviously a rumour which disappeared as soon as Bouteflika appeared next to the Canadian foreign affairs minister.
In actual fact, Bouteflika was busy talking on the phone with Zine El Abidine. Tunisia’s also experiencing a social unrest and the situation doesn’t look close to resolution. The two “Pouvoirs” do indeed have a lot in common and could be called good friends.
An old joke in Algeria says that Ezzine was surprised at and even envious of the high scores Chadli Bendjedid got at his presidential “elections” so he asked the Algerian president to help him get similar results in Tunisia. Chadli agreed (I said they were good friends) and sent his first counsellor to Tunis to share his techniques. The Tunisian “elections” took place and guess what? Continue reading →
I said in a previous post that I didn’t care whether France apologizes or not for the crimes it committed in Algeria. I haven’t changed my mind and it still gets on my nerves to hear the Algerian politicians’ calls for an apology. Only recently, Ennahda and the Moudjahidines’s organisation insisted again on passing the law criminalising French colonialism despite the clear message of the APN’s president.
What I said in the past and which I still call for is to have the French pay financial compensations for their crimes. This would include the victims of the nuclear tests in the Sahara but also the victims of the anti-personnel mines. And this is really important especially for the latter for we still get new victims of these dirty mines.
Having lived under the occupation, many thought that France would understand the situation of its own colonized lands and people, and do something for them (at least to thank them for helping free her). But they were naïve for France wanted to recover its reputation as an international power, and what a better way to do it than reminding all those lowly colonized people that they are nothing but the servants of their French masters. The massacres of May 8, 1945 were the message France decided to deliver to its Algerian colony.
Luckily (and unfortunately for colonialist France), these bloody massacres led to the opposite result as they triggered the actions towards our War of Independence. And France had to face a military resistance which it had not expected and which caused the loss of its most celebrated colony.