Algeria. Don’t touch my wall
Nassim Brahimi - 28/01/2012
Algeria has been quite absent from the popular Arab revolutions. In fact, it did not really manifest itself during the “Arab Spring”. Does this mean that the Algerians did not express themselves through the multiple popular spaces born during the big upheavals that shook the Arab world?
If Algeria has definitely marked its political absence in the so-called “Arab Spring” battlefield, the national artistic and cultural scenes have also ignored what was going on. Algerian intellectuals whether they are writers, musicians or poets have been silent during the events that took place against the Arab dictatorial regimes.
The intellectuals who have shown their support to the peoples, who, in search for freedom, have rebelled against the political regimes in their countries are rare. It is therefore quite legitimate to doubt the credibility of the Algerian revolutionary principles given that no sign brings us to believe that the intellectual Algerian is aware of the current stagnant situation in the country.
Contrary to what is happening in neighbouring countries who have seen the emergence of a specific young artistic movement manifesting itself through graffiti, humour, urban arts, young Algerians live in what we can call artistic isolation since the theme of the revolutions is nearly absent in debates or even considered as a taboo in cultural and artistic events.
The existing regime has even managed to put into the Algerians’ minds the idea that the Arab revolutions are actually the result of a form of foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s internal affairs aiming to destabilising it. Nevertheless, the Algerian youth is aware of the importance of what is at stake in their neighbouring countries and it has been capable of overcoming the current artistic and cultural failure by expressing a sort of intellectual liberation through one of the rare virtual spaces unsubdued to censorship – the Internet network.
The incredible vitality of Algerians on Facebook
The Internet has become a digital refuge for young Algerian members of social networks of communication. Facebook alone has two million subscribers in Algeria, most of whom are young people connecting to it daily, each of them according to their possibilities, to express themselves on the theme of the “Arab Spring”, to discuss and debate its objectives, impact and horizons…
Facebook have quickly become a liberating and saving solution for millions of young Algerians thirsty for freedom of expression and aspiring to change.
The personal space of each social network, the so called “wall”, has become a platform for struggle that has given birth to the political slogan of a whole generation that has not managed to find its way through the classical spaces of expression such as political parties, associations and civil forums. Thus, the young Algerians have even been able to determine the aspects of their personal environments in a virtual manner in order to avoid the intellectual pollution of the real spaces of expression.
The presence of these young Algerians on social networks of communications is characterized by the activism and vitality with which dozens of groups are created daily, addressing very different subjects that are essentially political or social. Most of them are created to discuss current facts or call for mobilisation in favour of a cause or even to enable communication and solidarity between society members.
These young Algerians are also very interactive on Facebook since the alerts related to the arrest of political opponents and facts concerning citizen preoccupations such as aggressions are published and shared immediately on Facebook walls by audiovisual means.
A large number of Algerian media are thus facing a big problem. They are now obliged to follow and watch these “parallel media” to such a point that some young Algerians have founded a citizen media network called “Algerian Reporters’ Network” *. This network has succeeded in imposing itself in the Algerian media sphere thanks to the principle of interactivity where access to information is free of charge. This is particularly interesting for any individual seeking audiovisual information with no intermediaries. This space represents a challenge that no press media has managed to overcome.
* Réseau de reporters algériens
Translated from French by Elizabeth Grech