Until recently, the Sahara desert has never been a destination for black African migrants, but as trans-Saharan travel from Niger to Algeria has increased due to closures of other migration routes to Europe, Algerian desert towns and cities have become the new landing spots for many black migrants. The “influx” of black migrants into the Sahara has sparked racial tensions between them and Arab North Africans, with numerous attacks by Arabs against black migrants occurring throughout Algeria. Anti-migration efforts have focused on the Sahara desert, the new path to Europe, deporting thousands of black African migrants from Algeria and “repatriating” or dumping them in Niger each year. Since Niger allowed Algerian authorities to cross into its territory to repatriate migrants in 2015, many black migrants have reported racist treatment from Algerian security forces during deportation, including theft and violence. In addition to direct police action against black migrants, Algerian officials have deployed xenophobic attacks against migrants in the press to drum up anti-migrant sentiment.
Two Islamist opposition parties in Algeria have posted faceless portraits of female candidates for May’s legislative election, upsetting state authorities which have ordered them to show the faces or be barred from the ballot.
The dispute reflects fear among many Algerians of any revival of political Islam in a country that balances religious conservatism with searing memories of its 1990s war against armed Islamist groups that killed 200,000 people.
The ultra-conservative Salafi strain of Islam, with its roots in Saudi Arabia, preaches religious purity and argues that their faith bans the faces of women being portrayed in public.
Election monitoring officials told Islamist opposition parties on Tuesday they had 48 hours to display the female candidates’ visages on campaign posters or their lists would be disqualified from the May 4 ballot.
A policeman managed to foil an attempted suicide attack in eastern Algeria on Sunday, opening fire on the bomber and triggering the explosives belt he was wearing, officials said.
The national police force said the attacker had been approaching a police station in the city of Constantine when he was shot by the officer.
“An officer who was in front of the police headquarters, underneath a building that is home to a dozen families, responded energetically and heroically after several warnings, targeting with precision the explosive belt worn by a terrorist,” police said in a statement cited by APS news agency.
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Mosques are going up, women are covering up, and shops selling alcoholic beverages are shutting down in a changing Algeria where, slowly but surely, Muslim fundamentalists are gaining ground.
The North African country won its civil war with extremists who brought Algeria to its knees in the name of Islam during the 1990s. Yet authorities show little overt concern about the growing grip of Salafis, who apply a strict brand of the Muslim faith.
Algerians favoring the trend see it as a benediction, while critics worry that the rise of Salafism, a form of Islam that interprets the Quran literally, may seep deeper into social mores and diminish the chances for a modern Algeria that values freedom of choice.
ORAN, Algeria — For a few years now, families of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have been gathering at major street crossings in the large cities of northern Algeria. They come to beg for alms, wearing grotesque outfits: oversize veils for the women, even little girls; cotton djellabas for the men; prayer beads ostentatiously displayed. They say “Allah” too readily and misquote verses from the Koran.
Many black migrants, including those who are not Muslim, are deploying symbols of Islam to appeal to Algerians’ sense of charity. Why? Because poverty helps decode culture better than reflection does, and migrants, lacking shelter and food, are quick to realize that in Algeria there often is no empathy between human beings, only empathy between people of the same religion.
Another example: In October a Cameroonian woman was gang-raped in Oran by a group of men that threatened her with a dog. When she tried to file a complaint with the authorities, she was rejected on two main grounds: She had no papers, and she wasn’t a Muslim.
Dozens of migrants were injured last Friday when they were attacked by locals in the town of Béchar, some 1,000 kilometres south of the Algerian capital, Algiers. Our Observer says that despite the presence of police officers, it was several hours before they did anything to stop the violence.
Towards midday on Friday, March 25, dozens of people from Béchar began throwing rocks at an abandoned shopping centre where a group of migrants were living. The violence kicked off after a local resident accused one of the migrants of trying to rape a little girl. But no crime was ever reported to police officers, and according to a local journalist covering the story, no one has pressed charges for attempted rape in any of the town’s police stations.
A terror suspect fighting deportation by the Home Secretary has asked Muslim clerics to issue a fatwa giving him permission to commit suicide to avoid being returned to his native Algeria where he fears torture, a court has heard.
The man, known only as Y for legal reasons, has told legal and medical experts that he is terrified of the Algerian security services, the DRS, and that he has already made three attempts on his own life since first being arrested by UK authorities in 2003.
He is one of six Algerians who appeared at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission last week in the latest stage of their fight against deportation from Britain on the grounds they are a threat to national security. The legal battle has now lasted 10 years for some of the men.