Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

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Algerian protesters take part in a demonstration against the ruling class in Algeria's capital Algiers on September 20, 2019, as the police toughens its line ahead of December elections. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters take part in a demonstration against the ruling class in Algeria's capital Algiers on September 20, 2019, as the police toughens its line ahead of December elections. (AFP)
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A picture taken on September 20, 2019 shows police vehicles blocking one of the main roads leading to the Algerian capital Algiers. (AFP)
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A picture taken on September 20, 2019 shows police vehicles blocking one of the main roads leading to the Algerian capital Algiers. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

  • Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies
  • Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies

ALGIERS: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday in defiance of a heavy security presence to demand the ouster of the country’s army chief.
Demonstrators gathered near the capital’s main post office square, the epicentre of Algeria’s protest movement that forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, this time calling for the ouster of General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
“The people want the fall of Gaid Salah,” the strongman in post-Bouteflika Algeria, they chanted. “Take us all to prison, the people will not stop.”
Friday’s protest marked Algeria’s 31st consecutive week of rallies, but protesters faced a heavy deployment of security forces in the city centre and along its main avenues.
Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies.
The tougher line on protests came just days after interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced a December 12 date for a presidential election to fill the vacuum left by Bouteflika’s departure.
The army chief has led the push for polls by the end of 2019, despite mass protests demanding political reforms and the removal of the former president’s loyalists -- including Gaid Salah himself -- before any vote.
In the runup to the latest rally, as on previous Fridays, police made several arrests near the square, AFP photographers said.
Police stopped vehicles on main streets in the capital and an AFP journalist saw officers in plainclothes ask for identity papers, before some were led off to nearby vans.
As a police helicopter scoured the skies, security forces also stopped cars headed towards the city centre from its southwest entrance, where a dozen anti-riot police vans were stationed.
Said Salhi, deputy head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, condemned the heightened security measures as “illegal”.
Demonstrations have officially been banned in Algiers since 2001 but the prohibition had been ignored since rallies started on February 22 against the ailing Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth presidential term.


Death of Algerian girl in ‘faith healing’ sparks outcry

Updated 30 May 2020

Death of Algerian girl in ‘faith healing’ sparks outcry

  • According to the prosecutor’s statement, cited by local media, the girl died after being taken to hospital in Guelma
  • The public prosecutor ordered an autopsy and an investigation into the child’s death, the statement said

ALGIERS: A ten-year-old girl who died in eastern Algeria while undergoing faith healing appeared to suffer “blows and burns,” a prosecutor said, sparking angry reactions online after the arrest of a man.
The public prosecutor in Guelma, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of the capital Algiers, announced a 28-year-old man had been arrested on Thursday after the death of the girl “who was abused during a Ruqya (faith healing) to which she was subjected in her family home.”
The prosecutor did not disclose why the girl was subjected to the Ruqya, a practice often performed with the intention of treating the sick, “driving out a demon,” providing protection from “the evil eye” or curing infertility.
According to the prosecutor’s statement, cited by local media, the girl died after being taken to hospital in Guelma.
“The girl’s body bore signs of blows and burns,” the statement said.
The public prosecutor ordered an autopsy and an investigation into the child’s death, the statement said.
While faith healing is permitted in Islam because it is performed using the word of God — through recitation of the Qur’an — many note the practice can lead to abuse, particularly of those with mental health issues.
Algerians took to social media in fury over the death of the girl in a “torture session” at the hands of an “executioner,” with many also decrying a lack of media coverage of the tragedy.
“Are we going to pretend for a long time not to see... the 10-year-old girl tortured and killed...?” asked journalist Akram Kharief, the director of the MENA Defense website, on his Facebook page.