Algerian organization plans to continue the protests on a weekly basis
On March 28, an Algerian organization based in Montreal known as “Tous unis pour notre Algerie” held a protest in Place du Canada in opposition to Algeria’s current government, which has been under the administration of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune since December of 2019.
The protests are a continuation of Algeria’s previous unrest in November 2019; the Algerian community postponed demonstrations until recently due to the surge of COVID-19 cases and restrictions.
Sara Sebbah, an Algerian national and frequent attendee of the organization’s events, was among one of the many protestors. She expressed her excitement at the reignition of the demonstrations, saying, “We stopped in 2019 to protect our country from COVID-19, but now they won’t suppress our protests and we’re not going to stop until we achieve freedom for our nation.”
According to an article published by Africanews last month, the anti-opposition sentiment has been fuelled by the fact that Tebboune is seen as a continuation of the nation’s previous president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who throughout his 20-year rule was accused of corruption, suppressing freedom of speech and interfering in democratic elections to preserve his presidency.
The article estimated that during the Feb. 3 protests, over 2,000 Algerians defied lockdown measures in the city of Algiers to demand the removal of Tebboune, but were met with violence.
“Our protests are always peaceful and public,” explained Sebbah. “But they provoke us, they make the police use force against us.”
Sebbah left Algeria over a year ago and has been living in Montreal ever since. Her situation is not uncommon among the community; a majority of the protestors were first generation immigrants.
Rajaa Elahmar, one of the volunteers handing out warm drinks to fellow protestors, had a similar story to tell, having immigrated to Canada 15 years ago.
“My hope is a free, democratic and civil Algeria. Not a military state,” said Elahmar.
A mother of three, Elahmar explained the severity of the situation by saying she would not consider Algeria a good place for her own children.
“The way things are now, no,” she explained, shaking her head. “Our children are here, but this protest is for all the Algerian children currently living in Algeria,” she said.
The organization announced that it has plans to continue their activism here in Montreal. Their next large demonstration will take place on April 20, and will be a march from Place du Canada to the Algerian Consulate on St-Urbain St.
Photographs by Gabriela Villarroel