May 23, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4748

Algerian Columnist: Algeria Is Already Ruled By The Extreme Right

May 23, 2012
Algeria, North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 4748

On May 10, 2012, Algerians were called on to vote in the country's legislative elections. As expected, the incumbent National Liberation Front (FLN) party, which has ruled Algeria since the country's independence from France 50 years ago, won the elections with 220 seats, evoking widespread suspicion of fraud, which was voiced in various media outlets.[1]

The anti-regime online media outlet Le Matin DZ, for instance, mocked the results and suggested that the FLN had stuffed ballot boxes with ballots of dead voters. Scoffing at the Islamist Green Alliance's third place victory, saying that the movement's members were willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder, it noted that regardless of the election results, there remained only one decision-maker in the country – the military's Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS), which it called "the only real Algerian party." Thus, Le Matin DZ said, with the new elections results," the comedy has begun anew for the next five years of the parliamentary term."[2]

Prior to the elections, Algerian democrats launched a campaign for a boycott of them, in an attempt to delegitimize the regime. The boycott campaign found its strongest support base in the region of Kabylia, among the Amazigh population. Known in English as Berbers, the Amazigh people is indigenous to North Africa, and inhabited the region before the Arab invasion in the seventh century. Its support for the boycott was no surprise, considering the long years of discrimination against it by the central government, which has promoted a policy of "Arabizing" Algeria.

The regime responded to the calls for a boycott with an intimidation campaign, fearing that such a boycott, if successful, could indeed delegitimize the regime in the international community. Its fears, it would seem, were well founded, as reflected by reports of 80% voter abstention in Kabylia's Tizi Ouzou Wilaya province.[3]

On May 9, 2012, Kamel Daoud, an author and a columnist for the Algerian newspaper Quotidien d'Oran, published an article in the online French-language magazine Slate Afrique[4] echoing the call to boycott the elections; the article was also picked up by several Kabylia-based websites.[5] The article called the FLN an extreme right-wing party that uses violence to repress Algeria's non-Arabs (i.e. the Amazigh) and to silence the liberal voices within the country. According to Daoud, today's FLN has nothing do to with the FLN that fought for Algeria's independence from France between 1954 and 1962. Moreover, he asserts that the elections in Algeria were not a manifestation of democracy but merely a means for the FLN-led regime to reestablish its dictatorship in the country.

The following is the article:

An Algeria For Arabs Only

"Does an extreme right exist in Algeria?... Some of our politicians keep saying, 'We are Arabs, we are Arabs, we are Arabs.' [Algeria's first president] Ahmed Ben Bella[6] used to say that back in 1962.[7] [Now] he is dead. [But Algerian politicians] keep on repeating it. So, like [French politician] Marine Le Pen, who dreams of a France [only] for the Gaulois [French descendants of the Gauls], here we dream of an Algeria [only] for the 'Arabs'... rather than an Algeria for [all] Algerians...

"Nor do the members of the regime here have any love for harragas [North Africans who attempt to illegally emigrate to Europe].[8] It is the opposite of Le Pen's case, but the problem is identical. Those who arrive [in France] are not French, Le Pen says, while certain [Algerian] ministers say that those who flee [Algeria for Europe] are not Algerians. This applies [to everyone] but the [ministers'] own children."

Algerian Minister Of Religious Affairs: Elections Boycotters Are "Cowards And Hypocrites"; Head Of Algerian Human Rights Commission: Send Them To Prison

Campaign to boycott elections in Kabylia reading, "Boycott the vote, boycott." On ballot box: "Democracy"[9]

"In any case, the extreme right is cruel: the 'other' is perceived as a threat, an invasion, [and is tied to] usurpation, colonization, laziness, and parasitism. This is what certain people in the Algerian regime say about progressives, democrats, and all those who wish to breathe freely, to live [freely] in their own land, and [to oversee] public spending. Those who do not vote are 'Zionists' and 'NATO people'; this is roughly what was said by [Algerian Prime Minister] Ahmed Ouyahia...[10]

Graffiti in Algeria calling to boycott the vote: "Boycott the vote, boycott."

Torching a ballot slip as "an ethical act!" [11]

"The [Algerian] minister of religious affairs [and endowment, Abu 'Abdallah Ghulam Allah], who was elected neither by Algerians nor by heaven, recently concluded that those who do not vote are cowards and hypocrites.

"[Moreover,] those who do not vote go to prison. This is, in fact, what happened to the young blogger Tarek Mameri.[12] Those who do not vote are arrested and imprisoned, or must be fined, according to the opinion of [chairman of the National Advisory Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Farouk] Kessentini..."[13]

Voting Has Been Rendered A Religious Duty

Mosque preacher incites Algerians to vote: "Boutef [i.e. President 'Abd Al-'Aziz Bouteflika] demands that you go vote in the elections!" Congregant: "In which surah [chapter of the Koran] is that?"[14]

"The extreme right behaves as [Maurice] Papon did in the [Paris Massacre of] October [1961]:[15] Algiers, a closed capital; police in the stations, searches in the hotels, arrests based on [people's outward] appearance; clubbing and violence... The extreme right is also a sort of a solid conservative bond between the religious clergy and monarchist 'politics,' meaning [President] Bouteflika's fanatical supporters. All of this can be seen taking place in our country: [For example, Religious Affairs and Endowment Minister] Ghulam Allah has turned voting into a religious duty..."[16]

The FLN Runs According To A "Clan-Minded Elitism"

"The FLN's New Victory In The Elections." Poster reads: "The extension [of the FLN's rule] is now,"[17] a parody on French President François Hollande’s slogan in France's recent presidential elections: "Change is now."

"The Algerian extreme right [i.e. the ruling FLN] is convinced that it directly descends from the martyrs of the war of liberation [against France], contrary to what we, the generation that followed, [believe]... This is [the source of] the clan-minded elitism, the blood ties among regime members, ministers from the region, relatives, etc... This is [the source of] the populism, the hatred of the free elites, the brutality of the police [etc.]...

"The Algerian extreme right also has its posters, its football stars – whose campaigns and TV appearances it funds – its singers, its journalists, its newspapers, its farms, its lands, its lucrative resources, and its networks.

"The Algerian extreme right does exist. But, unlike Le Pen and the Front National [in France], the extreme right [not only exists, but] is already ruling Algeria."


[1] It was reported that in the municipality of El-Khenk, in Laghouat Wilaya governorate, 10 deceased people were among candidates in an electoral list. See:

[2] Le Matin DZ (Algeria), May 13, 2012.

[3] El-Watan (Algeria), May 12, 2012.

[4] Slate Afrique (Paris), May 9, 2012.

[5] See for instance

[6] Ahmed Ben Bella (1918-2012) was the first president of Algeria, in office from 1963 to 1965.

[7] Algeria gained independence from France in 1962.

[8] Harraga literally mean "the burners," referring to illegal emigrants who burn their identity papers while en route to Europe if they fear capture by the authorities. The word can also be interpreted as burner of frontiers.

[9] This page is one of the many created on Facebook to promote the campaign to boycott the Algerian elections.

[10] Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia declared the Arab Spring a Zionist and NATO plot. El Watan (Algeria), May 7, 2012

[11] The above images were posted on the Facebook page "Campaign To Boycott The Elections In Kabylia,"

[12] Tarek Mamari, 23, was held for three days by the Algerian authorities for posting videos (See calling for a boycott of the elections. Mameri was also accused of "destroying property, setting administrative documents on fire, and inciting illegal gatherings." He reportedly told the state prosecutor, who ordered his release pending trial on May 30, "Yes, I destroyed electoral placards and burned my voter's card." Doha Center for Media Freedom (

[13] Farouk Kessentini, also spelled Ksentini, is head of the Algerian government's human rights commission, the Commission nationale consultative de promotion et de protection des droits de l'homme (CNCPPDH). In April, he stated that voting should be mandatory, and suggested penalties for elections boycotters.

[14] Liberté (Algeria), April 29, 2012.

[15] Maurice Papon (1910–2007) was a prominent French functionary who served the Vichy government as senior police official during WWII and later served as prefect of the Paris police from 1958-1967. On October 17, 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62), the FLN Federation of France organized a demonstration against the curfew Papon had ordered early that month on the Algerian population living in Paris. Algerian men, women, and children took to the streets of Paris, where they were violently repressed by members of the Paris police force. Over 11,000 Algerians were arrested and taken to detention centers around Paris. Between 200 and 300 Algerians were either beaten to death or shot by the Paris police; many of the bodies were dumped into the River Seine. See,35748,en.pdf. In 1998, Papon was convicted of complicity in Nazi crimes against humanity during the German occupation of France.

[16] Algeria's Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowment Abu 'Abdallah Ghulam Allah, also spelled Bouabdallah Ghoulamallah, stated: "Voting is a duty before it is a right, and it falls under [the duty of] obeying the ruler [ta'at wali al-amr, a religious obligation dictated in the Koran]".

[17] Liberté (Algeria), May 12, 2012.

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