Book Review: The Algerians of Bilad al-Sham


BouchamaSeveral Syrians came to Algeria these past years fleeing the war in their country. The few Syrians I used to meet were either teachers who came after Algeria’s independence and stayed or traders selling Syrian textile products. It was therefore unusual to see these men, women and children refugees begging at mosques’ gates. War has very sad and ugly consequences.

I wondered what happened to the Algerian community in Syria. Tourists and businessmen stopped going there but what about those living there, or even those Syrians of Algerian descent? How involved are they in the conflict? Did they take sides?
These are some questions I have and to which I found no answers. The press has reported about Khaldoun Mekki Elhassani, one of the Emir Abdelkader’s great sons, jailed by the Assad regime. And unlike what happened in Iraq, Bosnia or Chechnya, we didn’t hear of many Algerians who would be gone to fight in Syria.

Kamel Bouchama’s book attempts to answer other questions as to who these Syrians of Algerian descent were. Continue reading

Book Review: Black Suits You


TulipsMy objective behind the Book Reviews section is to write about the books I liked and/or which deal with some “interesting/useful” topic; and so far I’ve been successful in doing so. The previous book I reviewed was a disappointment but at least it allowed me to highlight one or two aspects about Algerian writers.

Black Suits You by Ahlam Mosteghanemi was beyond disappointment. The only good thing about it is that it can be read quickly, especially when you do like me and read only half the words starting from page 200.

I’ve read most of Ahlam’s novels, actually all but Nissian.com. I liked Memory in the Flesh more than Chaos of the Senses and Passer-by a Bed. She’s a good writer and I like her style but her novels are all the same. So I was aware that I was going to read just another variant of Mosteghanemi’s work when I bought Black Suits You, but I didn’t expect the boredom I experienced while reading it. Continue reading

Against Everyone


More than 20 years ago, when what was later called the black decade started, many Algerians chose to side with those who decided to use violence against the Pouvoir, or the state if you wish. These Algerians didn’t take an active role, I mean they didn’t join those who became the terrorists, but they were glad the Pouvoir was targeted through what they thought were its agents (army, police, gendarmerie, press, etc.), and they thought the victims deserved their fate as they defended the Pouvoir elhaggar. Some of these terrorists’ supporters didn’t even share their “champions”‘ ideology and could have been among their victims but they hated the Pouvoir so much that they were ready to give a hand to the devil in order to suppress it. They chose a side.

Considering the unfortunate events in Syria, I am amazed by how easily people decide which side they support. I am not talking of those who live survive in Syria, I am not even talking of Syrians living abroad. I believe these two groups are the ones concerned by what is happening in their country and, perhaps, they ought to choose a side and they do not do it that easily. I am talking of the people in the street or on the internet. Continue reading

The Observer


Observe: Watch (someone or something) carefully and attentively.

This is what I get when I google the word “observe”. So observers are humans gifted with this extraordinary ability of watching things carefully and attentively. Not every human can be an observer, and being an observer is not something you can decide alone. It is indeed a distinction others may or may not give you.
Watching things carefully and attentively is not the only gift an observer must have. Being able to observe and not act/react is an important aspect of the observer’s personality. There are some other characteristics which I will mention later on. Continue reading