|Radina Toeva @ F-Stop Magazine/|
Ghania Mouffok on the absence of revolutionary optimism in Algeria @ Eurozine.
Ali Yahia is a lawyer and, at 90 years of age, both venerable and courageous. That all counts for nothing with the young recruits of the Algerian police, who don't know his name and don't recognize his face. They just brutally shove him out of the way. The "March for Change" on 12 February in Algiers turned out to be an opportunity for these police recruits to try out the new repressive techniques devised by a dictatorship that is henceforth going to have to look to its image. Obama is watching.The demonstrators, numbering around two or three thousand, were treated to a veritable ballet by the boys in blue, a silent opera coordinated with near-perfect precision. For an overture, there was the arrest of the most determined or audacious of the demonstrators. Five or six bruisers, having picked out their victim, threw themselves on top of him, grabbed him and forced him to run, yelling "Run, run!" until they reached the paddy wagon parked a few yards away. All of this beneath the dumbfounded gaze of the demonstrators, who parted to let them through. Then it was the turn of the girls in blue, who, conscientious policewomen that they were, meted out the same treatment to the female demonstrators. Nothing had been left to chance. Around a hundred people were arrested in this way, at the speed of light, and although they were given a rough time, they were later released. No sooner had these lightning squads done their work than human dragnets of police officers began to advance, surrounding the rest of the demonstrators, kettling them and stopping them getting away. Each human dragnet was made up of about 100 members of the CNS, the Algerian riot police, with their transparent shields at the ready, wearing helmets and boots, armed with wooden clubs. In three rows, they advanced and withdrew, shoulder to shoulder, on every side, like the body of some giant, many-headed serpent, encircling the demonstration in a black hedge of robocops. Meanwhile, other police officers maintained a watching brief, using their short-wave radios to pass on intelligence about the slightest movement by demonstrators, so that the moment it was spotted they could be prevented from breaking out of this hellish circle. It was impossible to move. Despite this, what had been a march turned into a rally between the buildings in the 1 May Square and the bus stop.read more