Algerians abroad return home, seeing hope in protest movement

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Former soldiers join a rally in Algiers on April 5, 2019, chanting, singing and cheering after their movement forced out longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika — and demanding that other top figures leave too. (AP Photo/Toufik Doudou)
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Demonstrators wave the Algerian flag during a rally in Algiers on April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Toufik Doudou)
Updated 07 April 2019
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Algerians abroad return home, seeing hope in protest movement

  • Protesters say they want to see the resignations of the powerful “3B”

ALGIERS: For weeks, expat Algerians have been streaming home, some just for the weekend, to play their part in the historic changes sweeping the country.
“I took unpaid leave to come and march in Algeria, to be here physically,” said Chahrazade Kaci, who arrived back from London just days before president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in the face of huge protests.
“It’s a duty,” said Kaci, 52, who has spent almost half her life in the British capital since going into exile at the height of Algeria’s 1990s civil war.
Sports shoes on her feet and an Algerian flag draped over her shoulders, she held aloft a sign in English: “Call to all Algerians living abroad — return home and support our citizens in their struggle to build the 2nd republic.”
Kaci was one of many returnees among the immense crowd that filled the streets of Algiers on Friday, the first mass demonstration since Bouteflika announced on Tuesday he was stepping down after two decades in power.
Flying in from Europe, the Gulf and North America, some have used up annual leave or taken extra time off work to take part.
“Since February 22, I haven’t been able to sleep,” Kaci said, referring to the day of the first mass protests against Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office.
“I’m addicted to the Internet, I follow developments 24 hours a day and I don’t miss anything on social media,” Kaci said.
She was joined in the crowd by her former husband Salah Allali, who had flown in from Qatar, while her daughter Nada, who was born in Britain, and nephew Yazi Nait-Ladjemil had both come from London to take part in the protest.
Kaci herself arrived back in Algiers the previous Friday and “joined the march right from the airport,” she said.
Following Bouteflika’s resignation, protesters are now pressing on with calls for sweeping reforms and the departure of key figures in the 82-year-old’s entourage.
Bouteflika’s departure was “just the beginning,” Kaci said. “Still to come is the departure of the rest of the ‘gang’ and the building of a second republic.”
Protesters say they want to see the resignations of the powerful “3B” — Senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the constitutional council Tayeb Belaiz and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.
Born in Algiers, Kaci studied marine biology, but like many Algerians, left the country when it plunged in the early 1990s into a decade-long civil war that left at least 200,000 people dead.
Back in Algiers, returned expats say they are surprised by the country’s new-found freedom of speech and the strong presence of women at the vast, largely peaceful marches.
Kheira, 65, also took unpaid leave from her job as a teacher in Montreal to take part in “these historic marches.”
She had moved to Canada in 2000, to be reunited with her children after sending them there at the height of the civil war.
“My children have everything there, but they are ready to come work and invest in their country,” she said.
Former trade unionist Salah Allali, who also sought refuge in Britain in the 1990s, took an extra week of holiday without pay to be able to head home.
“The regime must understand that this revolution must end with its departure,” he said.
Yazid Nait-Ladjemil, who has lived in London for the past two years, took part in several demonstrations organized by Algerians in the British capital, but also returned home to play a role in the protests on the ground.
He said he would not rule out a return to his country.
“It’s a rebirth — before, (Algeria) was a bit depressing,” he said. The demonstrations “give me a sense of hope.”


Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

Updated 23 April 2019
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Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

  • Mohammed bin Ali Koman says the situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families
  • He was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts

TUNIS: Not only does the harm caused by terrorist crimes affect innocent victims, it also leaves their families and communities with psychological and social pain, the Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior has said.

This situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families and help them overcome their predicament, Dr. Mohammed bin Ali Koman said.

Koman was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts, held every year on April 22 by the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, member states and the League of Arab States.

“Today is an opportunity to raise awareness of the pain and tragedies of victims of terrorist attacks and encourage all initiatives undertaken by official bodies and civil society organizations to alleviate their suffering,” he said.

“The effects of terrorist crimes have exceeded aggression against human lives and property to psychological and social impacts as well as affecting families,” he said.

“Terrorist crimes result in a continuous bleeding to the heart of affected communities, especially with the terrorist media being devoted to inspiring and promoting their criminal operations, which have affected thousands of victims, including children, women and the elderly.”

He hailed the efforts of the security services in their fight against terrorism and the great improvement in reducing its crimes in recent years, expressing his sympathies for the victims and his support for their families to overcome the aftermath of these crimes.

Koman stressed that the Council of Arab Interior Ministers has taken special measures to raise awareness about the pain of victims of terrorist acts, including the development of media programs to raise security awareness and improve citizens’ contribution to countering terrorist acts in implementation of the Arab counter-terrorism strategy. This was in addition to assigning the Arab bureau for security-related information activities, which operates under the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, to prepare media programs and materials to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorist acts and the suffering they cause.

He highlighted that the council’s efforts go beyond raising awareness to taking concrete measures to support the victims of terrorist acts, including members of the Arab security services and their families.

Koman said that these efforts include the establishment of an Arab security solidarity fund to cover the expenses of medical, social, and psychological support for Arab police and security personnel and their families, in addition to the development of a model for the organizational structure of a department in the security services specializing in psychological counseling.

“The department will be operated by social workers and psychologists who have the capacity to help victims overcome the pain and tragedy of terrorism,” he said.

Koman praised the efforts of Arab countries in assisting the victims of terrorist acts and alleviating their suffering, including providing financial and moral support and providing them with treatment and privileges, such as monthly wages, scholarships for their families and medals of honors to their martyrs.

He urged public and civil society institutions to develop awareness-raising efforts through holding seminars and organizing events to remember the suffering of the victims and provide them with social, psychological and financial support.

Koman concluded by saying a prayer for the victims harmed by terrorist acts and members of the security services who died foiling terrorist crimes and fighting terrorists.