Algeria is the latest country to shut down the Internet and Facebook, as thousands of pro-democracy protestors were arrested in violent street demonstrations last Saturday, February 12.
Call For An End To President Abdelaziz Boutifleka’s Regime
From The Telegraph:
Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.
There were also reports of journalists being targeted by state-sponsored thugs to stop reports of the disturbances being broadcast to the outside world.
But it was the government attack on the internet which was of particular significance to those calling for an end to President Abdelaziz Boutifleka’s repressive regime.
Protesters mobilising through the internet were largely credited with bringing about revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
“The government doesn’t want us forming crowds through the internet,” said Rachid Salem, of Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria.
“Security forces are armed to the teeth out on the street, and they’re also doing everything to crush our uprising on the internet. Journalists, and especially those with cameras, are being taken away by the police.”
500 People Arrested in Algiers
By the end of the day, at least 500 people had been arrested in Algiers, the capital of Algeria, and hundreds more in Annaba, Constantine and Oran.
Last month similar protests erupted: five people were killed and at least 1,000 arrested at that time.
Although Algeria has the eighth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, as well as a good supply of oil, it also has extremely high unemployment, poor housing conditions and high food prices.
State Of Emergency Imposed 19 Years Ago
The country suffered in civil wars between 1992 and 2002, when more than 160,000 Algerians died. The current president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was installed by the army in 1999, but a state of emergency has been in place since 1992.
On Monday, February 14, the Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci, promised that this state of emergency would be lifted. According to The Telegraph, Mr. Medici told the French radio station Europe 1 in an interview, “In the coming days, we will talk about (the state of emergency) as if it was a thing of the past. That means that in Algeria we will have a return to a state of law that allows complete freedom of expression, within the limits of the law.”
So far, protests have been organized by small minority groups with no central leadership, but with the recent events in neighboring Tunisia, and in Egypt, who knows what could happen next.
The Domino Effect
The domino effect continues, and perhaps events have moved forward enough that they don’t need the Internet anymore.
Photo credit: magharebia via Creative Commons