Home NewsSwept Under the Rug Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Algeria faces a second wave of its pro-democracy movement

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Algeria faces a second wave of its pro-democracy movement

by Asma R. Kermiche April 13, 2021
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Algeria faces a second wave of its pro-democracy movement

The movement is also known as ‘‘the Hirak’’

Algerians resumed their pro-democracy protests on the second anniversary of the country’s pro-democracy movement on Feb. 22, 2021, following calls for demonstrations launched on social networks in Algiers, the country’s capital.

In support of their compatriots there, the Algerian diaspora in Montreal gathers every weekend from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., not only to demand the departure of the regime in place, but also to urge the Algerian authorities to end all repression against militants and journalists.

The protest begins in front of the Algerian Consulate and ends at Place du Canada.

Bouzid Ichalalene, director of publication of the electronic journal ‘‘INTERLIGNES Algérie,’’ posted about the issue on Twitter, saying: ‘‘Through their placards, the demonstrators demand “a rule of law,” “a free press” and “a free and democratic Algeria.’’

The Hirak protests started two years ago when then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his intention to run the country for a fifth term.

However, even after Bouteflika’s resignation on April 2, 2019, the Algerian community continued to put on pressure to bring down the entire regime.

Unfortunately, in March 2020, all protests were suspended due to coronavirus restrictions, and the Algerian authorities took the suspension of the weekly outdoor Hirak protests as an opportunity to silence the voices of the opposition at a time when the movement started gaining strength internationally.

According to the draft law presented by Algerian Justice Minister, Belkacem Zeghmati, during the month of March: ‘‘Algerians who have committed acts outside the territory ‘seriously prejudicial to the interests of the State’ or ‘undermining national unity’ could be deprived of their nationality, ‘acquired or of origin.’’’’

This draft law, which was submitted by Zeghmati in the form of an amendment to the nationality law, raised serious concerns within the vast Algerian population around the world.

‘‘While Algerian activists are prosecuted for their online posts on social media, those of us living abroad may not be able to return home any time soon,’’ said Bochra Rouag, an Arts and Literature student at LaSalle college, during the protest in Montreal.

After several weeks of controversy on the subject, the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced the withdrawal of the draft bill because of a misunderstanding.

‘‘We withdrew it because there were other interpretations,” explained Tebboune during his April. 4th press briefing.

The Hirak movement has drawn attention internationally. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Algerian authorities to immediately end violence against peaceful protesters and to stop arbitrary detentions.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

 

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