Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yesterday Egypt, today Algeria

This was the slogan of the brave protesters in Algiers on Saturday, making the first breach in Algeria's wall of fear

Karima Bennoune, Saturday 12 February 2011

"Algiers – In the wake of Friday's historic events in Cairo, over 1,000 peaceful demonstrators defied a ban on protests in Algiers on the Place de 1er Mai on Saturday. The goal of the National Coordination Committee for Change and Democracy, the organisers of what was supposed to have been a march to Martyr's Square, was to call for an end to the 19-year state of emergency, for democratic freedoms, and for a change in Algeria's political system. Invigorated by Cairo's great event, this Saturday in Algiers they chanted slogans like "Djazair Horra Dimocratia" ("A free and democratic Algeria"), "système dégage" ("government out") and indeed, "Yesterday Egypt, today Algeria"......

Clearly, the wall of fear needs to be broken down here – perhaps a harder task than elsewhere, given the terrible violence of the 1990s that killed as many as 200,000 people and terrorised the entire society. The opposition needs to be united and organised. Additionally, activists need to build critical links with broader segments of the society to achieve the political change so clearly needed in the country and which the police overreaction only underscored – change that Tunisia and Egypt have proven to be entirely possible.

For now, perhaps it is more accurate to say, "Yesterday Egypt, tomorrow Algeria …""

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