Rachid Nekkaz is a French-Algerian businessman and a candidate for the Algerian presidency. The following are excerpts from a video posted on the Internet on November 22, 2013, and from an interview with Nekkaz in Algeria, posted on the Internet on January 18, 2014:
Rachid Nekkaz: I am standing opposite the municipality of Creteil Val-De-Marne, ten kilometers away from Paris. I have come here to hand in my French passport, because Francois Hollande will not let me hand it back to him personally, in front of the Elysee Palace. I am glad that I am an Algerian citizen. I am now going to hand in my French passport, so that I can present my candidacy for the Algerian presidency in the April 2014 elections.
TV host: You are like the Algerian football players who play in France. If they are invited to join the French national team, they accept, and if not, they say they have come to defend the Algerian national team. You ran for the French presidency in 2007 and were unsuccessful, then you ran in the municipal elections and were unsuccessful, and so you are back in Algeria.
Rachid Nekkaz: What's the problem with that? I am an Algerian citizen by law. I have returned to my country, and I am running for president. What's the problem with that?
TV host: The problem is that you placed Algeria second in your presidential aspirations. First you tried in France, and only when you failed did you return to Algeria.
Rachid Nekkaz: The answer to this is not a simple one. The 2004 and 2009 elections in Algeria were not transparent, and it was not easy to submit one's candidacy. Today, we can see a democratic Algeria...
TV host: Algeria is a democratic country now.
Rachid Nekkaz: I am saying that as far as I am concerned, there is freedom. I am with you today, talking about Algerian politics, and I can say anything I want. I believe that the democracy in Algeria is better than in France.
In France, in Belgium, and elsewhere in Europe, they legislated laws forbidding women to wear the niqab in the street. I took care of this.
TV host: You paid the fine?
Rachid Nekkaz: That's right. I paid the fine the women got for wearing the niqab.
TV host: But is that the solution? You pay the fine, and it continues, and you pay another fine. But you have not treated the actual problem.
Rachid Nekkaz: Freedom is a basic thing. I am not prepared to accept the denial of a person's right to wear the niqab out on the street. Freedom is a part of democracy, and without freedom in democracy, there is no state.
I do not live in France. As I told you, I live in Algeria. If I want to go to France, I have a visa – just like all Algerians. I went to a French university and read history and philosophy books. Indeed, I consider French colonialism in Algeria to be genocide. If I become president of the Republic of Algeria, I will arrange for a vote on a law equating this colonialism with genocide.
TV host: Do you know the first line of the national anthem of Algeria?
Rachid Nekkaz: Could you repeat the question?
TV host: Do you know...
Rachid Nekkaz: No, translate it for me.
TV host: Could you sing the first part of the Algerian national anthem?
Rachid Nekkaz: [Singing] We swear by the lightning that destroys... taram, taram, taram... by the blood... taram taram taram ta-tam...