Links: Week22’16


algerian_nuthatchA study day dedicated to the Algerian nuthatch (or Sitta ledanti or Sitelle kabyle) was organized a week ago by the AREA-ED. This news gives me the opportunity to mention this association and also to speak of this species which was discovered in October 1975 and is Algeria’s only endemic bird species. The Algerian nuthatch is unfortunately endangered with less than 2000 (1000 according to other sources) pairs. You may want to watch this related communication from the university of Bejaia (part 1, part 2, part 3). Continue reading

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Links: Week21’16


In this short article from 2007, former Prime Minister Mouloud Hamrouche tries to explain why the Arab regimes are not democratic.

Algerian journalist and blogger Brahim Senouci reminds us of the skulls of Algerians who resisted the French occupier which are still in French Musée de l’Homme whereas many other groups have requested and recovered their people’s’ skulls. As much as I think that it is stupid and useless to seek a French apology for the colonisation (it’s not Algeria’s business, the French should do it for their own good as a society esp. with French citizens of Algerian descent), I strongly believe that Continue reading

Links: Week20’16


You may have read an old post I wrote during the last presidential elections. It was after I watched a video with one of Bouteflika’s supporters comparing him to a prophet. The video has unfortunately been deleted but I just watched a newly posted video from that period. Here, another man invents new verses of Quran and explains that he’d vote for Bouteflika, dead or alive. Continue reading

Book Review: Les Enfant des Frontières


Two weeks ago I was at a conference about the “refugees crisis” in Europe. The talk was given by a geographer researcher specialised in migrations, one who could have been among the 19 who signed the contribution in Le Monde refuting Kamel Daoud’s article in the same newspaper. A “bien-pensant” intellectual as Daoud’s friends would have called her (cf. this article in El Watan and a reaction to it in Le Matin) or simplistically a jealous person as prodigy Daoud himself would have called her had she been Algerian.

So there were maps, statistics and graphs with some geopolitics putting things back in their context. It was very interesting and informative. People should get access to such information to, at least, try to avoid situations such as having some former refugees who do not want their new country to take in new ones. Especially when a “renowned” journalist and writer implies that the new refugees come with a cultural sickness which makes them prone to violence and “that the disease is spreading to their own lands.”

The same happens in Algeria with the sub-Saharan refugees who either stay in the South or move farther to the Northern cities (dying, for some, while crossing the Sahara). In Bejaia (and elsewhere), you can see them, men, women, children and babies turned into street beggars or very low-cost workers in construction/farming fields. They rely on the locals’ generosity and also suffer from their animosity (some in Algeria say they’d spread their diseases – yes, it’s the bell ringing that you hear.)

So I though I’d write a very short review of a beautiful book on the times when our people were themselves refugees, pushed out by the French occupier’s policies and seeking refuge in neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia if not farther. Continue reading

Book Review: Les Algériennes du château d’Amboise


Tomorrow we will celebrate the 61st anniversary of the Algerian Revolution. I used to dedicate a post to this occasion with a link to a song or a poem. This time will be different as I am taking this opportunity to finish this book review draft and post it.

The Algerian Revolution was the final step taken by the Algerian people towards their independence. All the armed and peaceful resistance actions taken since the French invasion in 1830 paved the way for the glorious War of Independence. The resistance movement led by Emir Abdekader was a major episode even though it ended with the prince surrendering to the French who imprisoned him and his followers in France instead of sending him to today’s Turkey, Syria, Egypt or KSA as was agreed between the Emir and the Duke of Aumale. And this is where Amel Chaouati’s book comes in.

Many books have been and are written on Emir Abdelkader but only a few speak of his 97 followers (including 21 women and 15 children and babies) and I don’t remember reading any which relate the story of the women amongst them during his detention period in France (three months in Toulon, four in Pau and four long years in Amboise). Chaouati tried to tackle this aspect.

I admit I was more sceptical when I bought the 1500 DZD worth book than when I started reading this one. I wondered what the author would have to say knowing the scarcity of historical sources. And I was right, there was little material to fill the 204 pages of the book except that the author chose a different perspective.

Continue reading

The Ticket Revolution


A majority of Algerians is glad that the country didn’t experience anything remotely close to the so-called Arab Revolution, despite some attempts here and there. Many, under the influence of the Wantoutrism effect, even take pride in having escaped countered the global conspiration against us.

But saying so means the country is in deep stagnation, or stability as the Algerian rulers would call it. You’d say stagnation – sorry, repeat after me, stability, stability, stability is better than violence and unrest and you wouldn’t be wrong but I still hate to think that we’re stuck and nothing is moving forward in Algeria. Also, I felt a bit jealous of all these countries that had their colour revolutions, tulips revolution, Jasmin revolution, umbrella revolution, etc. with symbolic places such as Tahrir or Maidan. So I looked again and guess what? Algeria has had its revolution too, the Ticket Revolution. Continue reading

Yemma La Police!


Seeing the policemen gathered in demonstrations these past days, many children in Ghardaia and Algiers might have shouted “Yemma la police!” just like the little Omar did in the excellent series “The Fire” based on Mohamed Dib‘s famous trilogy.

Police presence in demonstrations is not unusual in Algeria. I have mentioned in my previous post the many protests taking place in the country and, almost every time, the authorities made sure these protests didn’t go out of control and contained them with an important police force. The policemen presence was sometimes so overwhelming that their numbers looked bigger than the demonstrators’ (cf. last April’s Barakat demonstrations).
The policemen’s repression and sticks were always there regardless of Continue reading

Book Review : Meursault, Counter Investigation


Daoud

I hesitated a lot before reading this book. I had been a reader of Kamel Daoud‘s chronicles (without quite agreeing with their content) before I stopped a few years ago as he grew gloomier than ever. But I checked them again a few times during the last presidential elections and I liked what I read. This added to the fact that I felt Camus‘s The Stranger needed an answer if not a sequel convinced me to make the move.

I read The Stranger many years ago and, like many, felt a void left by the missing details on the Arab man killed by Meursault. This void combined to Camus’s statements/stance during the Algerian war of independence led to the many polemics around Camus and his belonging (or not) to Algeria.

Continue reading

The old ways of electing the president


I just started reading the third volume of Ahmed Taleb-Ibrahimi‘s memoirs. I will probably write something about it when I am finished (hope it won’t be as boring as the first 50 pages of the book) just like I wrote about the second volume (here and here). Right now it is the story he relates in the very first pages which I would like to share. The next presidential elections will be held on April 17 and it would serve to know how Chadli Bendjedid, Algeria’s third president, had been (s)elected.

Chadli presidentI haven’t read Chadli’s memoirs yet and I don’t know how much they match with Taleb’s. The episode related by Taleb coincides quite well with Hocine Malti’s version. Anyway, I don’t expect Taleb to lie so it is safe to share his perspective even if it is just his perspective and he probably didn’t know everything. Continue reading

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