Archive for June, 2007

The Algiers Bombings: A Media Perspective

June 7, 2007

 

It is incumbent upon us, we Algerian watchers and intellectuals, to take a pause and cast a careful look at the recent bombings in Algiers which targeted, among other significant political symbols in our capital city, the headquarters of the Prime Minister.

 When one reads through the massive corpus of commentaries and analyses written on the grim developments in Algeria, one can easily see that these “theorists and political analysts” fall into two distinct categories.   

The first group consists of subservient journalists whose primary aim is to please the men in power in Algiers and (so) glean whatever benefits they can from the regime.

In their daily writings these hack journalists insist that the terrorists’s days are numbered and that the country is witnessing the last gasps of those dying bombers. According to this group, the only possible way to tackle the desperate evil-doers is to tighten the noose around their necks and implement tight security measures against them. That, they claim, is the elixir which will guarantee peace and security in Algeria. 

  The second group consists mainly of those who firmly believe in the conspiracy theory. They allege that the perpetrators of the devastating terrorist operations are no other than the Algerian Intelligence and Security Apparatus.

They further claim that in so doing, the Algerian Intelligence Service seeks to inspire fear into the hearts of the ordinary citizen and, through perpetuation of the state of emergency, the regime will then be able to harden its grip on the nation and continue to deprive the Algerians of their basic rights to freedom and democratic rule.

 Chief among those who uphold this view are independent opposition figures and remnants of the banned Islamic Salvation Front, especially Murad Bin Dhina, the Islamist leader who is now living in exile, Switzerland.  

Between these two groups, a raging battle is now being fought on Satellite Arab channels. I find both positions to be off the mark. To me, the whole situation, which was brilliantly and perceptively outlined in a cartoon published in Al-Khabar daily (April 15th 2007)    seems to be crystal     clear and quite     comprehensible. 

 We all know that the Algerian youth make up 85% of the total population. Tragically however, they are the most marginalised group in our society.

 Despite their skills and high academic achievements (many with post-graduate degrees), they are poor, out of work, oppressed by the regime and unable to express themselves or voice an opinion even on matters that are organically related to their own future and well-being. 

 We need no angel to tell us that these hard realities have had an immense negative impact not only on the lives of our youth but also on the lives of the Algerians at large. 

 The Algerian youth feel neglected, cornered and compelled to take all sorts of risks in order to break free from the inclement trap in which they find themselves.

They have no choice but to either emigrate (my own experience), indulge in drugs and alcohol, or seek unlawful and dangerous ways of earning a living such as smuggling, robberies, forgeries, trading in contraband goods, etc. 

Some of course will resort to suicidal protests; either through setting themselves alight in front of a government employment agency, or taking some form of toxic material or poison to end their suffering once and for all. 

A last resort for some would be to seek refuge with terrorist organisations, especially with the fundamentalist Salafi groups.  Those misguided youth take this desperate and destructive measure in the belief that, having failed to find peace on earth, they will finally secure a place in Heaven.    


  

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