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Shkupistan

Your memory is failing you, this has nothing to do with Borat. And don’t bother looking it up on Google Maps, it is not hiding between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Shkupistan, you see, is more of a concept, a state of mind than an actual physical state. Yet, its consequences are very real, and over the past few years, many Algerians have become convinced it is the only fitting description when commiserating about the situation of their country.
Ten years ago Harry G. Frankfurt published a delectable little book “On Bullshit” in which he announced that his aim was “simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not-or (putting it somewhat differently) to articulate more or less sketchily, the structure of its concept.” I don’t pretend to be able to follow such gigantic footsteps, and I certainly do not intend for this post to be book-length. I just want to try to help Anglophone readers get a feel for a word (and its derivatives) that is bound to emerge out of the confines of Algerian slang.
First, a quick comment about notation. Search engines are more likely to give you reliable hits for “chkoupi” or “chkoupistan” than for “shkupi” or “shupistan” (although “shkupi” will get you lots of hits, but more on that later.) For historical reasons, transliteration from Algerian is usually based on French sounds so the “sh” sound of “shkupi” is rendered as “ch” and the “u” (which should be pronounced as in “stupid”) is rendered as “ou”.
Nowadays, most people think “shkupi” is a dirty word, basically synonymous of “penis,” that should not be used in public. The original meaning is quite different. Mehdi, host of the show (Yadès) on Algerian radio devoted to the origin of words and popular expressions, traces it back to the Spanish “Escupir” (to spit) as in whatever was spit out by the sea. When returning with nothing but seaweed and froth in their nets, fishermen in Algiers would say they only fished “الشكوبي و الرغاوي” “shkupi and froth.” The word evolved to mean something like “worthless crap” or “bullshit” and it became common to refer to junk or to anything poorly done as being “te3 shkupi” (of shkupi) or “ki shkupi” (like shkupi), or to say “teddi shkupi” to mean “you will get diddly squat”. The phrase “bled shkupi” (shkupi country) became a favorite expression to capture nonsense , the dysfunctional state of affairs in the country and the general zeitgeist. The word also became a reference for artists. Bahia Allouache made a movie entitled “Cinéma chkoupi“, and Mustapha Benfodil gave us the “Manifesto of shkupism” in his “Archéologie du chaos(Amoureux)pagesdemustaphabenfodil” . It would be too long to describe the novel here, but the manifesto is a document found by the police on the body of the main character of the story, a writer, who’s death is deemed suspicious. Taking the meaning of “shkupism” into a different direction, the manifesto blends serious political issues with a surrealist avant-garde artistic demands. A sort of Karl Marx meets André Breton. The manifesto was staged in France and was used in a public reading to commemorate the events of October 5th 1988 in Algeria. It also became a focus of attention during the Arab Spring in Tunisia.

 

In parallel, with the breakdown of the Soviet Union, the emergence of new countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc. and the war in Afghanistan, “stan” became a very convenient shorthand for country. Algerian self-deprecating sense of humor quickly picked up on that and new word plays such as “Absurdistan” and “Ahuristan” were invented (the latter refers to the French “Ahurissant”) as the country sunk in the dark era of the 90’s.
Retour_d_Ahuristan
It was inevitable that “shkupi” and “stan” would eventually meet and merge to give us the now common “Shkupistan” or “the land of shkupi”. Rappers quicky picked this up

and on YouTube one can even subscribe to “Chkoupistan TV” shkupistanTV

The channel recently posted a video that clearly captured the whole concept of “shkupi”.

Most hilarious, however, is the fact that “F.C. Shkupi”   KF_Shkupi_Logo is also the name of the soccer team of the city of Skopje in Macedonia and their anthem is sure to delight all the devotees of the “shkupi” way of life.

I am not sure what pushed me to write this post, but if you find in the end that it is a “post te3 shkupi” feel free to say that in the comments. I’ll wear that as a badge of honor.

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“The Algerians are the niggers of France”: The Stone Face by William Gardner Smith

Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, May 1960. Simeon Brown has just arrived from Philadelphia. The amateur painter in him scrutinizes the passing faces, trying to discover the characters they revealed, when he notices these men with baggy pants, worn shoes, and shabby shirts. Their eyes are unhappy and angry, reminding Simeon of the eyes he knew from the streets of Harlem. Their hair is crinkly and their skin while not quite white is surely not black either. When they glance at Simeon, unsmiling, a strange unspoken recognition passes between him and them. Simeon has just had his first encounter with Algerians who will progressively play a central role in the life of this African-American journalist, who left the United States because “I wanted to prevent myself from killing a man.”

Written by William Gardner Smith, a native Philadelphian himself, The Stone Face carries us through a dual discovery experience. All his life Simeon Brown had to struggle against the racism and prejudice so prevalent in the 50’s in the United Sates. It cost him an eye when, as a teenager, he was attacked by a Polish gang while going to the Italian store on Reed street to get spaghetti sauce for his grandmother. The cold face of his tormentor, devoid of feeling, with its blue sadistic eyes, betrayed a soul of stone. It would forever come back and haunt Simeon whenever he encountered prejudice.  Painting the stone face would also become his obsession. Years later Simeon comes close to killing a man out of rage when he encounters another manifestation of the stone face. Frightened, he decides to escape to Europe.

Travel to Europe, with possibly an extended stay in its cosmopolitan capitals has long been a rite of passage for American artists and intellectuals since the end of the nineteenth century. The names of some members of the “Lost generation” such as Ernest Hemingway or Gertrude Stein are familiar to many, but beyond the phenomenal success of Josephine Baker and the popularity of jazz among European audiences, what is less known is that African-Americans artists and intellectuals had their own group of famous expatriates.  “From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980” by Michel Fabre recounts this history quite well. While he did not achieve the notoriety of Richard Wright, James Baldwin, or Chester Himes, William Gardner Smith is probably the one member of that generation who paid the most attention to the plight of Algerians in France during the Algerian revolution.

As a journalist working for Agence France Presse, Smith was well acquainted with events taking place in Algeria, but as a foreigner in France, he could not openly express his solidarity for the Algerian cause (something that Simeon Brown was reminded of multiple times in the novel)  and chose instead to express his views through a work of fiction.

W.G. Smith Top row second from right. 1954 Paris Review Photo from the Wall Street Journal (obtained from the Morgan Library) and Entree To Black Paris http://goo.gl/OGC6D

Post-War France had earned a mythical status among African-Americans as a ‘land of liberty’.  Soon after arriving in Paris, Simeon meets Babe Carter, the massive, gregarious bookshop owner who introduces him to the local community of African-Americans. Babe has been in Paris for ten years. He came to  “get out from under” and he wishes he “could move the whole black population out of the states.” While enjoying the freedom to “go anyplace, do anything” Simeon progressively discovers another reality as he observes the way Algerians are treated by the French police. His fellow expatriates dismiss his inquiries about  Algerians. When he asks Raoul and Henri, two French students he meets at the Café Tournon, “Is there racism in France?” they tell him “Of course not. The French don’t believe in racist theories; everybody knows that. Africans feel perfectly at home here. The French don’t understand racism. Why do you ask?”  When he persists and asks “What about Arabs?” he is told “That’s different. The French don’t like the Arabs, but it’s not racism. The Arabs don’t like us either. We’re different.” He will soon get a first-hand experience of this difference. Leaving a bar one night, he gets into a fight trying to rescue a woman he believes is being attacked by a man who turns out to be Algerian. Other Algerians come out of the bar to help their compatriot but when the police arrives a French waiter testifies that “These Arabs attacked the American.”At the police station Simeon is treated with respect by the police who call him “Monsieur”. Nothing like what happened to him in Philadelphia when he was beaten up by the police after he responded to offensive remarks by one of the officers. But he quickly discovers the Algerian is not so fortunate. In fact the man was trying to recover some of the money that the woman had stolen from him. Money that was to be sent back to Algeria to support his family. He gets locked up nonetheless. Feeling embarrassed and remorseful, Simeon tries to intervene and says it was all his fault. He is quickly rebuked and told “You don’t understand. You don’t know who they are, les Arabs. Always stealing, fighting, cutting people, killing. A night in jail is letting them off easy.”  A few days later Simeon will meet again the same group of Algerians who ask him “Hey! How does it feel to be a white man?” Sitting at a table at Odéon Café he gets an earful: “We’re the niggers here! Know what the French call us-bicot, melon, raton, nor’af. That means nigger in French. Ain’t you scared we might rob you? Ain’t you appalled by our unpressed clothes, our body odor? No, but seriously, I want to ask you a serious question-would you let your daughter marry one of us?”

The experience triggers Simeon’s interest in these people who live on the periphery of Parisian life. Who remind him of what life was like back in Philadelphia. He thought he had escaped racism only to discover that it still existed here in the land of ‘liberté, égalité, fraternite’, even if it now affected someone else.

The second discovery The Stone Face takes us trough is more personal and more subtle.  It revolves around two fateful encounters. At the Café Tournon, Simeon falls in love with Maria, a beautiful aspiring actress. Soon they end up spending most of their time in night-clubs, café terraces or having dinners with friends. Simeon writes articles for an American magazine while Maria goes to acting school and rehearsals. A Jew who has survived a concentration camp as a child in her native Poland, she wants to live in the present and enjoy life to the fullest. She is also worried by her medical condition. Doctors have told her she might go blind, and she came to Paris to get  the surgery that could save her. Simeon finds Maria’s energy exhilarating and enjoys every moment he spends with her.  Life is good. Until Simeon has a chance encounter with Ahmed, one of the Algerians he had met at the Odéon Café. Ahmed studies medicine but  dreams of becoming a writer. He wants to apologize for Hossein who had lectured Simeon too harshly.  They talk at length and Ahmed shares with Simeon his feelings about violence. He hates it, but knows it has to be used sometimes. His brother has been fighting for four years in the mountains of Kabylia in Algeria, and Ahmed would love to join him , but he is told by the National Liberation Front, the FLN, to focus on his studies. Algeria will need trained men when independence comes. Simeon and Ahmed agree to meet again to share a couscous. As the bus takes him progressively away from the white Paris into the Arab neighborhoods in the North of Paris, where he is to meet Ahmed, Simeon feels like he is traveling towards Harlem. Everything reminds of that. The drab buildings, the cheap stores, the people on the street, men out of work with nothing to do, Arab music blaring from the cafés or the windows of bleak hotels. But then there was police everywhere “stalking the streets, eyes moving insolently from face to face, submachine guns strung from their shoulders. It was like Harlem, Simeon thought, except that there were fewer cops in Harlem, but maybe that too would come one day.” Simeon becomes fascinated by the conditions of Algerians. He meets Ahmed frequently, and even gets  caught when a police raid hits the hotel where he had gone to see Hossein who is an active member of the FLN. Luckily he had his US passport with him. The sense of purpose, the cause that Ahmed and Hossein embody make Simeon reconsider his life in Paris. Maria, who had a successful surgery, is more than ever determined to have an acting career. She goes to parties to meet directors and travels to Italy for a small role in a movie. Their lives are now on separate tracks. An article in the Herald Tribune about black children having to go to school accompanied by soldiers in a small town in the south of the US, the news of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, and a meeting with Ahmed, who had just returned from a trip to Algeria, push him further in his determination. Ahmed advises him not to let himself rot away: “You know, ‘Drifting from cafe to café’. ” Ahmed tells him how he felt when he was in the mountain of Kabylia with a group of guerrillas while French helicopters came at them. “I was happy for the first time in my life.”  With Ahmed, Simeon meets Latifa and Djamila. The first Algerian women he meets in Paris. He learns all about the torture they have been subjected to, and insists until the women demonstrate for him the you-you he keeps reading about in newspapers. He finds it “bloodcurdling.” Although he struggles at first through this gradual awakening, Simeon Brown eventually reaches a state of serenity that allows him to finally see clearly the direction that his life must take. He had felt helpless in the face of racism in Philadelphia, and when he arrived in Paris to escape from it he was impressed by  Babe Carter’s vow to never go back to the States. Now he was reconsidering that option. The Algerians had shown him a different way of reacting. A different response. While he obviously could not consider and armed struggle, he realized the futility of running away from the problem. The stone face must be confronted.

The climax of The Stone Face and perhaps its most important historical contribution comes near the end of the novel. It is October 1961. The French authorities have decreed a curfew for Algerians and the FLN has responded with a call for a peaceful demonstration.  On October 17, 1961, 30,000 people marched. The head of police Maurice Papon ordered his troops to attack the marchers. For years the French government downplayed the event and would not acknowledge more than 2 deaths on that day. Historian Jean-Luc Einaudi, who has been instrumental in raising awareness of the event in France, has maintained that over 200 people were killed on that day with some of the bodies thrown in the river Seine. A plaque commemorating the event was finally put in place in 2001, although mention of the precise number of victims was avoided.

The Stone Face is generally considered the first fictional account of this event.  William Gardner Smith puts the figure at more than 200: “The corpse of more than two hundred Algerians, Ahmed’s among them were to be fished out of the Seine the next day and for days afterward.” Smith puts his hero Simeon in the middle of the massacre. Having ignored the advice of his fellow expatriates he goes to the march and is horrified by what he sees. “Simeon saw old men clubbed after they had fallen to the ground, sometimes by five or six policemen at a time, their bodies beaten after the men were dead. In scenes of terrible sadism, Simeon saw pregnant women clubbed in the abdomen, infants snatched from their mothers and hurled to the ground. Along the Seine, police lifted unconscious Algerians from the ground and tossed them into the river.” In a last scene of violence, Simeon punches a policeman who is clubbing a woman holding a baby. He had seen the stone face in the face of the policeman and this time he was not running away. He ends up in a police van and is taken to a stadium with hundreds of other Algerians who had been arrested. One more time, his American status comes to rescue Simeon. A condescending officer makes him promise that he would not get involved again in another demonstration and lets him go with these parting words: “You understand, I know something about your problems. I’ve been reading the newspapers about the troubles in the schools. You understand, we like Negroes here, we don’t practice racism in France, it’s not like the United States. We can understand why you prefer to live here. We wouldn’t like to have to expel you.”

It is time to leave Paris. Simeon meets one last time Maria who tells him that she is going to Hollywood with an American director. He then books a return passage to the United States.  The day of his departure as he shaves, he decides to use his razor to slash the canvas on which he had been trying to paint the stone face for over a year.

It is unfortunate that The Stone Face did not enjoy a better reception when it was first published in 1963. The Algerian revolution has certainly had a lasting impact worldwide but the novel came out at a time when the Algerian conflict was no longer in the headlines, and the Civil Rights movement became the central topic of interest for African-American authors. Smith himself became a prominent US expert in the French media.  Nonetheless, his novel remains a rare testimony by an outsider observer of an important chapter in the history of Algeria (and of France ) and deserves to be better known by the Algerian public.

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TEDxAlger, a subversive act?

Algiers, revolutionary Algiers, capital of the third-world revolutions in the sixties and the seventies, was a sure bet as the next stop in the unfolding drama of the Arab spring. The stage was set, the actors identified, and the script rehearsed in Tunis and Cairo. Anxious observers scrutinized every bit of news coming out of Alger-la-Blanche trying to anticipate events, ready to connect the dots with the rest of the grand narrative that was being constructed to explain the political awakening of the region. But nothing happened. Sure, there were calls for marches and public demonstrations, online declarations, op-ed pieces and a heavy police presence in the streets of Algiers. But nothing that could match the mesmerizing spectacle of the massive gatherings in Tunis or Tahrir square.  And the world’s attention was quickly redirected to Bahrein, Yemen, and finally Libya and Syria where things did happen.

Those still paying attention to Algeria were left with the task of explaining why nothing happened. The exercise is still in progress and more will be said about that in future posts here, but an emerging consensus argument runs something like this: Algeria has already gone through this phase back in October 1988, when massive riots left over 500 dead, led to an opening of the political landscape and the emergence of an independent press. This was followed by the cancelation of the 1992 legislative elections, won in the first round by the Islamists, by the military and ten years of a bloody civil war during which an estimated 200,00 people died. Traumatized by these events, Algerians were not too keen for a repeat performance. They have lost trust in the political process, and are today more interested in social and economical reforms to improve their constantly deteriorating situation.  This explains why communal guards and students succeeded where political organizations failed. They were able to organize public demonstrations because they  focused on meaningful and concrete social demands, not on political demands such as bringing down the system.

The validity of this argument will undoubtedly be tested in the coming weeks as the reforms announced by president Bouteflika in his April 15 speech are implemented.

In this context it was interesting to follow what may seem like a totally unrelated event: The TEDxAlger conference. Organized on April 09 by the ETIC club , run by students of Algeria’s top school in computer science (Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Informatique) , this first independent TED event  in Algeria focused on the spirit of entrepreneurship. A number of reactions by those who attended the event can be found here, here, here,  and here. Videos of the talks can be viewed here. A comprehensive collection of links about the event can be found here.

To organize such an event, focused on business and entrepreneurship, when the whole region is swept by a revolutionary mood focused on freedom and  regime change could be interpreted as a lack of consciousness, a form of indifference or even as reactionary. Businessmen and entrepreneurs cannot possible compete as role models when compared with those who are heroically bringing down autocratic regimes. Yet, the significance of this conference can be found elsewhere, beyond its theme and content. What should draw our attention is the fact that this was a large scale international event organized entirely by students in a country notorious for the extent of governmental control on all public activities. One of the most powerful ideas underlying the Arab spring is the desire of the youth to have a say in the conduct of the affairs of their societies and countries. No longer satisfied with the status quo, they are yearning for freedom. The freedom to dream, to build, to act and to fail. They want to be  in charge of their destiny. And that is exactly what the members of ETIC have done. They did not wait to be told what to do. They had an idea, they organized themselves, worked hard,  overcame all local obstacles and accomplished something significant. How much impact this particular event will have in the future is hard to gauge, and this may not qualify as a revolutionary act as usually understood, but, keeping in mind the context discussed above, this could serve as an example of the kind of actions Algerian youth could undertake to progressively build their own civil society. Rather than directly and violently confronting the regime, it might prove to be smarter and more productive to simply make it obsolete.  In that sense TEDxAlger could be a truly subversive act.

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Tunis, Cairo,…Algiers?

While the world celebrates the great news coming from Cairo, Algerians are holding their breath wondering what will happen tomorrow. A coalition of political parties, unions, human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations (The National Coalition for Change) has issued a call for a march for tomorrow, February 12 in Algiers.  The government’s refusal to authorize this came as no surprise. Under the state of emergency law , in place since 1992, all public events of that kind are banned. Although president Bouteflika recently announced that this would happen “soon”, the lifting of the state of emergency is one of the key demands of the march. This coalition which first met in January, undoubtedly influenced by the ongoing revolution in Tunisia,  was the first time in many years that opposition parties and non-governmental organizations gave any indication that they might come out of the deep coma they seem to have fallen into and cooperate with each other.  The riots that took place in early January, dubbed by some the “sugar riots” , highlighted  the political vacuum that currently exists in Algeria. While in neighboring Tunisia the protest sparked by Mohamed Bouazizi gathered steam and was joined by an ever widening range of organizations from civil society, Algerian youths went into a quick burning rampage while the political class stood by silently. The February 12 march seemed like a good first step that would galvanize the opposition and lead to further actions. While it may appear as slightly chaotic, the organizational meeting that one can see in the video below represents a encouraging sign in the Algerian political landscape: People from different groups, with different political persuasions sitting around a table planning a common action. A partial transcript of the meeting (in French) can be found here.

Unfortunately the eternal divisions within the opposition quickly resurfaced after this meeting. Some organizations backed out of the the march. Some parties accused other parties of trying to take over the leadership of the movement and questioned the goals and motivation of the march following Bouteflika’s announcement about lifting the state of emergency. All of this created a confusion  familiar to observers of Algerian politics. The organizers of the march have nevertheless maintained their call. The regime reacted by putting the police on high alerts and it is reported that 30,000 members of the police have been mobilized for tomorrow. Trains to Algiers have been stopped today and this afternoon it has been reported that police surrounded the headquarters of the RCD which already attempted, unsuccessfully,  to organize a march in January. No one expects this march to lead quickly to the downfall of the the Algerian regime, but even a partial success of this event could signal a renewal of serious political activity in Algeria. While everyone agrees that the current situation cannot last forever, and everyone recognizes that violence leads nowhere (as shown by nearly 10 years of civil war)  politics has become such a nauseating concept to many Algerians that one wonders how change could possibly happen. Tunisia and Egypt have shown that peaceful change can be accomplished through massive mobilization of the people, and today’s announcements in Cairo could  have a mobilizing effect, but we will have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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The fallout from Cairo and Khartoum

It has been  a month since Antar Yahia rocketed Algeria Anta Yahia's rocket shot

into the final phase of the 2010 FIFA soccer world cup, but the swirl of controversy surrounding the two-game confrontation between Algeria and Egypt has yet to diminish. To give but a few examples: Awaiting a formal apology and compensation for losses incurred by Egyptian businesses in Algeria, Egypt recalled its ambassador,   suspended its membership in the North African Football Union, and announced it would boycott a meeting of the executive committee of the Arab Football Union. Meanwhile, an Algerian delegation walked out of a meeting of the Arab Lawyers Union to protest the burning of the Algerian flag by Egyptian jurists. There are ongoing discussions about a possible take-over of  Djezzy the leading mobile phone provider in Algeria, which estimated the losses caused by the looting of its offices in the tens of millions of dollars.  Algerian workers have also demanded the departure of Egyptian workers and managers. Libya’s president Muammar Gaddafi offered his mediation with no visible result yet.  Consult this Wikipedia entry or this article for a good recap of the dispute.  The Moor Next Door provides an interesting analysis on the British and American  media reporting of these events.

Soccer matches between Algeria and Egypt have never been a smooth affair, beginning in 1958 when the newly formed FLN national team (a public relation tool in the war of independence)  arrived in Cairo only to find out that the promised game against Egypt would not materialize (the threat of a ban from FIFA competitions may have motivated  Egypt’s change of mind.) However, this latest incident carries with it a number of  elements worth exploring.

Looking beyond the bombastic rhetoric, it is clear that the regimes of Algiers and Cairo could not, as noted here, pass such an opportunity to manipulate nationalistic sentiments and grab whatever amount of popularity they could from their respective populations.  On the Algerian side, the ordinarily inefficient state apparatus mounted, in the limited span of four days,  a massive airlift that landed  over 10,000 fans in the Sudanese capital.  The returning team was given a huge hero’s welcome  during which all restrictions on public assembly, imposed by the 17-year old state of emergency, were suddenly lifted. Coming on the heels of the Diar Echems riotsand completely obscuring a strike in the education sector, this euphoria provided a welcome relief for the state.

What could perhaps be the most significant development from this controversy is the shattering,  in the eyes of many Algerians, of the myth of Arab fraternity. The stinging comments from some Egyptians about the Berber origins of Algerians (with a not so subtle connotation of “barbarians) and their dismissal as non-Arabs prompted some newspapers to suggest that Algeria should withdraw from the Arab league (ironically, a similar call was issued by some Egyptians). Quite embarrassing for a  regime whose official ideology has always rested on the twin pillars of Arabism and some form of Islamism. This could explain the muted official Algerian response in the face of Egyptian criticism. An attitude that frustrated the Algerian public expecting a stronger response. While some expect this crisis to lead to the reawakening of a Berber consciousness among Algerians, others, such Ferhat Mehenni, leader of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia are less optimistic.

The games also led to a vigorous clash in cyberspace. From an Algerian perspective, the anemic state-controlled TV was no match against the powerful array of Egyptian  satellite TV channels in the battle for public opinion.  This proved to be no obstacle for Algerian fans who flocked to YouTube to share information and make their voices heard.  Elias Filali, a  UK-based DZYoutuber (as members of the Algerian network on YouTube call themselves) provided blow by blow reporting from Cairo and Khartoum with direct access to members of the Algerian delegation.  His first report on the stoning of the Algerian bus received close  to a quarter of a million hits and earned him an interview on AlJazeeraZenda, became a folk-hero for his sharp video responses to Amr Adib, an Egyptian TV commentator Algerians love to hate. In the lead up to the games, the posting of doctored pictures, home-made music videos, and dubbed scenes from famous movies with Algerian commentaries were particularly popular within the Algerian cyber community. The cleverness and the technical quality of some of these products provide a glimpse of what Algerians could accomplish with better access to information technology.  The high cost of computer equipment and the poor quality of  the network have unfortunately stunted the growth of the Internet in Algeria . Incredibly, instead of plans for improvement of the situation, there is now talk of setting up an Internet filter.

The Algerian press (go here for a good overview) also benefited from this crisis. Echorouk , in particular, was the clear winner when it boasted an incredible 2 million daily copies printed. Echorouk’s reporting has been controversial and even called reckless when it announced the (false) deaths of eight Algerians in Egypt. A good discussion of Echorouk’s brand of journalism can be found here.

With both Morocco and Tunisia eliminated from the world cup, people from the Maghreb have demonstrated  their solidarity (also here) with Algerians. Broadcasting from Tunisia,  NessmaTV, a new satellite TV channel, celebrated the Algerian victory in Khartoum poking fun at poor Amr Adib. It will be interesting to find out whether this renewed popular affection translates to the political realm where tension, especially between Rabat and Algiers, remains high. A topic of discussion here.

Who said it was only a soccer game?

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Here we go!

One more blog! This one will be devoted to Algeria. News from and about Algeria. Comments and stories about what is happening or what happened in Algeria. It’s in English because there aren’t that many blogs in English about Algeria, so hopefully I will be able to provide useful information to those who cannot read Tamazight, Arabic or French.

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