Algerian revolution: who is lying and who is telling the truth?


I mentioned in a previous post how the Algerian regime managed to create a perfect history around the Algerian revolution as a whole and for many of the freedom fighters and martyrs as individuals. It is for example amazing that we have two historical versions on Ali Tounsi who was a great moudjahid in one and the worst harki in the other.
Today we are witnessing a different phenomenon with many men criticizing some of the Algerian revolution’s figures. It has been an ongoing trend for some time now but Said Saadi‘s recent book triggered a new storm which, I think, won’t stop any soon.

I haven’t read Saadi’s book, but what I gathered from the Algerian newspapers is that he “used” some archive materials he got from France to prove that colonel Amirouche (and Si Lhaoues, but he doesn’t really care as he was not Kabyle) was killed by the French with the help (or instigation) of both Boussouf and Boumediene. He also, again according to the newspapers, wrote that Krim Belkacem was not involved in the murder of Abane. A Kabyle cannot kill another Kabyle, duh!

Saadi chose to publish his book while Kabylia commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Berber spring, and apparently aimed with his book at gaining (or regaining) some support among the Kabyles. He could as always count on Noureddine Ait-Hamouda as his moral caution. In their fight, the RCD, the FFS, the 3rouche and the MAK don’t hesitate to use any tool to get an advantage over the others, even though the FFS tries to show itself as a national party and not a regional one.

And many people now are retaliating and a snowball effect is ongoing.

We have first the historical and political figures who are responding to Saadi. The first one being Ali Kafi who declared that it was Amirouche himself who chose the itinerary to Tunis, against Kafi’s advice. As if this wasn’t enough, he decided to add some bits he witnessed on how Abane (the Kabyle) was scolding Amirouche for running away from a battle (he said Abane told Amirouche “curse those who gave you the officer rank”). This of course breaks the myth of the courageous Lion of the Djurdjura, and adds up to Belaid Abdessalam famous opinion that Amirouche hated knowledgeable and intellectual people and killed them during “La Bleuite” episode.  Kafi adds some other facts on Krim’s involvement in Abane’s assassination. This last point pushed Krim’s daughter to respond and attack Kafi.
On the other hand, Boumediene’s family decided to sue Saadi (who is criticized by most of the Algerian politicians) for defamation; and the former members of the MALG are apparently preparing a proper response.

Then we have the Algerian newspapers which, like the politicians, are fighting against each other for a bigger audience. El Watan keeps interviewing Saadi and Ennahar counter-attacks by mentioning that Ali Kafi was still living in a state residence (while insisting on the fact that great Bouteflika’s using his own house). El Fadjr didn’t find a better way than criticize Amirouche for the “mistakes he made” during “La Bleuite” episode, and the newspaper’s director (Hadda Hezam) launched a violent attack yesterday against Anis Rahmani, the director of Ennahar, who, according to her, is a harki’s son who faked a terrorist threat in order to be given a place in a state residence where he enjoys practising fornication!

The newspapers’ battle is just another episode after the one between El Watan and Echourouk, the various attacks Echourouk launched against the francophone newspapers, Elkhabar attacking Echourouk during the Algeria/Egypt crisis, and El Fadjr whose editorialist (Saad Bouokba) keeps lecturing everyone on how journalism should be (implying that his competitors are useless). I must say that I agree with Bouokba and I believe the Algerian newspapers’ level is the worst ever. I wonder how these “journalists” dare complain and make claims when they have so little to do with journalism and respect no ethics, and how they brag about their independence when they’re puppets in the hands of the powerful. I sometimes even miss the good old 80s period when it was a fact for everyone that the press was controlled, and I only bought the newspapers for their crossword games.

The political parties on their side play this game because it’s our revolution that is used to legitimate the Algerian regime. And anyone who would want to get to power needs to find a link with the revolution (the French apology tune is but one of these links).

This is all idle talk if you ask me, but I am worried to see so many Algerians following this masquerade and getting into the game. It for sure is not a good sign on our society’s health.

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13 thoughts on “Algerian revolution: who is lying and who is telling the truth?

  1. Your editorial is more confusing than informing about the Algerian political landscape. Note that confusion has been the technique used by the regime since independence. It is only now that people are starting to understand the motivation, and its devastating impact on the construction of the Algerian nation.

    Said Saadi’s triggered a storm in Algeria as it touches a raw nerve in the Algerian population. After all, the Algerian revolution constitutes the foundation on which Algeria as a nation rests. The regime obviously exploited this fact to claim legitimacy. For a long time, it has qualified any opposition as going against the principles of the revolution, as being manipulated, or worse, as being paid by the enemy, the French neo-colonialism. As the holder of the flame, any opposition, they said, is colluding with the outside enemy. It has been an effective technique to silence the voices of all those who denounced the enormous deficiencies, corruption, and crimes of the regime. Who wants to be classified as a traitor? The FLN called the RCD, “Hizb a Fransa”, even if all the members of the RCD in parlament are sons of Chahids, including of course the son of Amirouche. Why is the democratic opposition confined to Kabylia? Why is there no opposition party in other parts of Algeria? Note that Said Saadi’s RCD has been confined to Kabylia not by its own program, but by the regime which wants to isolate democratic forces. It has been convenient for the regime to attack any party issued for that region as colluding with the enemy. See on you tube, the insults of Boumediene towards the kabyles in one of his speeches. What Said Saadi’s book shows that actually many of the leaders fighting bravely the French inside Algeria were actually from the Kabyle region. on purpose, not by its program, but by a regime that is afraid of democratic voices. Look, the defending Said Saadi on this matter, believe me that I am no fan of his, or the RCD or the FFS for that matter. In fact, I have been an “Algerianist” in the tradition of Abane Ramdane, who want a unified Algeria.

    I cannot engage in a thorough analysis of Said Saadi’s book in this forum. Suffice it to say that while some facts in his book may have been weakly disputed, one at least remains irrefutable: “Amirouche’ dead body has been kept for more than 20 years in the basement of the gendarmerie nationale”. Nobody denied this one. The revelations in Said Saadi’s book should the beginning for all Algerians to look at the state of affairs in Algeria. It should not only be Kabyles defending Amirouche. He was after all the symbole of the fighting Algeria during the war.

    The analysis of characterizing the regime since independence should start with the following questions: Why would the regime of Boumediene do such thing as bury the dead body of Amirouche in the gendarmerie nationale? What was he afraid of? Doesn’t Amirouche deserve the gratitude and the honors of the Algerian people? Only a vulgar criminal is capable of such a dastardly act. Does such a person deserve to govern Algeria? We know also that he is responsible for the death of Khider, Krim, Chaabani, and countless others. He has imprisoned Ferhat Abbas, BenKhedda, Ben Bella after a coup. Can such a man deserve the glory that the Algerian revolution confers? Shouldn’t we view him as a sick pathological man in the line of Saddam Hussein and other dictators. This gives an idea about his regime.

    This fact alone enhances the credibility of the other claims made by Said Saadi. I believe that he and Boussouf have been behind the murders of Abane.

    Again, there is no need to attack Said Saadi as a Kabyle. This is not a kabyle question. It is an Algerian question. Amirouche, Abane, Krim are all heroes of the revolution, who died for their country. All of them were real leaders when the going was tough.

    There is more … perhaps for another time.

    Athaissa.

    • Welcome Arezki on the blog and thanks for commenting.
      I didn’t aim here at describing the “Algerian political landscape” so anyone expecting this description would obviously feel the post is not complete. But this doesn’t mean it is confusing, I just depicted the recent events around Saadi’s book as I see them and gave along my opinion.

      For a long time, it has qualified any opposition as going against the principles of the revolution, as being manipulated, or worse, as being paid by the enemy, the French neo-colonialism.

      I agree but I also think this method is used by the opposition as well. Everyone in Algeria seems to have their “hizb fransa” and they’re not always Kabyles or members of the RCD.

      […] even if all the members of the RCD in parlament are sons of Chahids […]

      I am afraid this has little to do with these people integrity. To each their own actions.

      Why is the democratic opposition confined to Kabylia? Why is there no opposition party in other parts of Algeria?

      I believe there is no genuine and structured political opposition in Algeria including Kabylia.

      Note that Said Saadi’s RCD has been confined to Kabylia not by its own program, but by the regime which wants to isolate democratic forces.

      Oh, don’t you think the RCD is confined to Kabylia (without representing the majority) because its program is anything but matching the Algerian population’s wishes and aspirations? And many of those voting for him in Kabylia do it because they have no other alternative to show their opposition to the system, and because the fact he’s Kabyle helps them voice their identity claims?

      See on you tube, the insults of Boumediene towards the kabyles in one of his speeches.

      I know the video, but I have yet to see the full speech and its date to put the words in their context. If the video is not fake that is.

      […] many of the leaders fighting bravely the French inside Algeria were actually from the Kabyle region.

      Well I wouldn’t say many of the leaders. Some of them, some others were from the Aures, others from the North Constantinois, others from the centre, etc. I don’t think this will help us (Algeria) advance an inch.

      one at least remains irrefutable: “Amirouche’ dead body has been kept for more than 20 years in the basement of the gendarmerie nationale”. Nobody denied this one […] It should not only be Kabyles defending Amirouche. He was after all the symbole of the fighting Algeria during the war.

      Agreed. But I don’t think you will find the answer to this question in Saadi’s book.

      […] Does such a person deserve to govern Algeria? We know also that he is responsible for the death of Khider, Krim, Chaabani, and countless others. He has imprisoned Ferhat Abbas, BenKhedda, Ben Bella after a coup. Can such a man deserve the glory that the Algerian revolution confers? Shouldn’t we view him as a sick pathological man in the line of Saddam Hussein and other dictators. This gives an idea about his regime.

      This is a complex topic. But to make a long story short, I don’t think Boumediene had Saddam’s megalomaniac pathologies, and even if I agree he was a dictator, I can’t but admire his honesty (even his enemies agree on this) and the fact he had a plan and a vision for Algeria and worked to achieve it, regardless of the mistakes he made, but who doesn’t!

      I believe that he and Boussouf have been behind the murders of Abane.

      In the absence of confirmed facts, everyone can believe what they want.

      Again, there is no need to attack Said Saadi as a Kabyle. This is not a kabyle question. It is an Algerian question. Amirouche, Abane, Krim are all heroes of the revolution, who died for their country. All of them were real leaders when the going was tough.

      I think Saadi is the one considering this as a Kabyle question. I too think it is a question which should matter to all Algerians (and not only about the three leaders you mentioned above).

      Even though regionalism is something characteristic of the Algerian regime, I believe its first union force is ideology and whoever shares this ideology is welcomed. This is why you find Kabyles and people from all around Algeria in high positions in the system.

      There is more … perhaps for another time.

      Feel free to visit and comment anytime.

  2. I am not sure that ‘lying’ is a proper term to use with respect to ‘historical accounts’ MnarviDZ. History has always been a political battlefield, because it is written by the powerful, it doesn’t mean it’s all a string of lies, but on its own it doesn’t tell us much about what really happened but it has much more to say about how people thought and felt. Maybe the problem is not what history says or whether it is the truth, maybe the problem is our way of reading it and what we want to find out from it?

    Algerian history being the sacrosanct temple that it has been made into by the authorities is a very favorable environment for hearsay and rumours, conspiracy theories and the like. I believe that the truth will always prosper in open and just environments, this envrionment is non existant in Algeria, but the problem is, there are new pressures on the political elite (eg. Western pressures, the Internet and its minefield of all sorts of information, Algerian emigrants and ‘asylum seekers’ with all sorts of stories to tell). The next best option now is to promote confusion and keep people entertained.

    Personally, I do not have any hopes for a proper Algerian history (of the revolution) to emerge in our lifetime. And in my most pessimistic moments, I don’t think any version of Algerian history (of the revolution) will emerge, because by the time somebody will get round to it, it’ll be too late. For me, history is an ongoing process of reflection and dialogue, it is the national equivalent of a voyage of self-discovery. Algerian people see history as a folktale of village gossip.

    • I am not sure that ‘lying’ is a proper term to use with respect to ‘historical accounts’ MnarviDZ. […] but on its own it doesn’t tell us much about what really happened but it has much more to say about how people thought and felt. Maybe the problem is not what history says or whether it is the truth, maybe the problem is our way of reading it and what we want to find out from it?

      Right, I understand everyone sees (interprets) facts differently. What I meant by lying is not when people relate events as they felt them, but when people do lie about the events themselves. When you have people saying that Ali Tounsi was torturing the Algerian moudjahidine during the Liberation war, and others saying he was a moudjahid, I say at least one side is lying.

      For me, history is an ongoing process of reflection and dialogue, it is the national equivalent of a voyage of self-discovery. Algerian people see history as a folktale of village gossip.

      Interesting. And I bet you most people think they don’t need to undergo any self-discovery process.

      • When you have people saying that Ali Tounsi was torturing the Algerian moudjahidine during the Liberation war, and others saying he was a moudjahid, I say at least one side is lying.

        Perhaps, but before jumping to accusations one needs to consider who is saying what and who benefits the most from each allegation. Anybody can say anything and without valid proof, one cannot talk of lying. Like you said, this is all empty talk in the wind. They’re taking the Algerian public for a ride.

        Let them make the war archives public and then the serious talking will commence. In a way, I almost understand why they don’t want to do this, the Algerian public is not ready to learn about the history of the revolution and I don’t think it ever will be. Maybe in 100 or 200 years from now. Just maybe.

  3. History is not science, and as stated above, it’s usually written in order to glorify one part against the other.
    I don’t beleive that France can be relied upon as being a source of truth in relation to the Book of Said Saadi, which I must admit I haven’t read yet, and this is in my opinion one of the main mistakes that people continue to make.

    The main question that someone has to ask, in order to assess or try to find out who is behind a criminal act, is simply to look for the one who benefit from it.
    cui bono ?
    Also I continue to disagree with the usage of vague words and terminologies, such as ” regime”, “dictator” so forth and so on, that don’t actually allow us to understand in details who has done what.
    Algerian history is like an Algerian, a living contradiction!

  4. Just to add some comment to the very interesting previous ones, Boumediane had recon he had done mistakes, I have watched a you tube video one day saying (it’s only those who doesn’t work wouldn’t do mistakes). at least he was assassinated due to his brave and strong position about many sensitive international issues, and left us very poor person, nothing in his account and no assets left under his name. watch todays leaders how wealthy they are.

    I personally refuse those who use ideology and common values for their end interests such as Islam, tamazighan, revolution, those values in fact belongs to all Algerians without distinction. I think if Said Saadi setup an open political party where any Algerian can be part of, he probably can succed better, simillar case for islamist parties using Islam religion and FLN when exploiting revolution values. with respect to the labour party of Louisa Hanoun and RND… even they are not really that perfect.

    Returning back to Algerian history, I think it’s crucial to perform academic research to the PHD level, by means of an unbiased peer reviewed true research, where loads of opinions and aspects must be considered to reach valuable end results. particularly now where some of the old moujahidine still a life so they can witness with their point of views.

    One person can never write a history.

    • Just a side note since you flagged the RND as being not perfect. I think it is the only Algerian party that deserves some “respect”. I explain: It’s the only party that is clearly created from nothing just to counter the FLN (which wasn’t nice anymore at that period), that is composed of corrupt and opportunistic members, and that has therefore never deceived the Algerians. It is as dirty as the other parties but at least it doesn’t pretend to be clean 🙂

  5. Agreed about RND as I said but, it seems to me (RND = Ouyahya), it is not a powerful structured party, once Ouyahya is gone there is no much to count on it. Louisa Hanoun in the other side, is as well the only arabic muslim women of her kind, Boutef. himself reckons that one day by saying,’ If I got three like Louisa Hanoun I wouldn’t need any of you), -the meeting was full of mens- but hen again if Louisa Hanoun is gone there is no much to count on.

    Despite all of that the whole oposition parties in Algeria needs certainly total review: so many politically parties using common values to their own interest should normally be dissolved: FLN (as a party), HMS, FFS, RCD, Islah… the list is a bit long.

    The political parties in Algeria should normally have a distinctive NPD (National Program of Developement) and they must be elected only on that basis, that’s how it should work. as a result the constitution it self should first preserve this concept to make it applicable.

    Unfortunatly we are not yet in that stage

    • In my humble opinion and a very proud Algerian, I hated the regionalism mentality,when i was living in Algeria, even more so now. With all these back stabbings. We should all unite together as one voice, and sing from the same sheet ( i don’t mean this as chanter ).
      We (Algerians) should concentrate all our efforts and energy to get rid of the corrupts people who destroyed our beloved country, for so many years. We’ve had enough of this corrupt, criminal politicians.
      We say to them:
      As for our history, it’ll be written correctly and concisely for future generations (Inchallah) .

      • Welcome Farid.

        Perhaps we should spare part of the effort for thinking and building the future. Some past generations forgot about it and now we see where it got us.

        I think Slimane Benaissa’s version here is concise and contains enough pride yielding elements that it should be considered as our only historical reference 🙂

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