March 20, 2019


In Algiers, the 'revolution of smiles' spreads everywhere (Adlène Meddi,  19 March 2019, Middle East Eye)

"Too many people want to speak for us, some political pros will certainly claim [the movement]," the young man exclaims, point to his laptop between an empty cup of coffee and an ashtray filled with cigarette butts. "But on the internet, it is us the people who are sovereign. We make the decisions."

Between calls for a referendum, decentralisation, judicial enquiries into all officials and highest levels of power.... the proposals are numerous and varied, but all "speak to a thirst for real democracy in a country where institutions seem to crumble one after the other," says Halim, who is already coordinating with his comrades the logistics of the next demonstration.

"The goal is to obtain in a fairly short time frame a platform of consensual and unified demands to impose on decision-makers under pressure from giant demonstrations," the student adds while typing on his phone

Another initiative launched last week has seen Algerian students hang thousands of Post-it notes - later ripped off by the police - on the walls of Place Maurice Audin Square in the city centre. Slogans, proposals and various messages were written down - "a way of saying you're talking to a wall", explains Sara, in her second year of medical school.

From this idea was born the Facebook page "Post_it_ga3": gaa, ("all" in darija Arabic) refers to a widely shared video in which a young man interrupts a TV reporter from an Arab channel, and, refusing to speak in classical Arabic as is usually the case on news programmes, said: "Yetnahaou gaa! "('they must all be destituted!') when speaking about the Algerian leaders.

On Post_it_ga3, Algerians are invited to take a picture of an annotated Post-it showing an idea or request, thus creating a virtual wall of young people's demands. 

In Algiers, initiatives are proliferating: last Monday, and for the second time, artists and intellectuals led a debate in Port-Said Square, in front of the National Theatre - an unusual sight in the Algerian capital where gatherings are usually prohibited.

Last Thursday, Algiers' biggest soccer match, the USMA-MCA derby between the capital's two rival clubs, was boycotted by supporters of both teams to denounce the situation in the country.

"Algiers is so beautiful when it revolts," says a smiling passerby on Didouche Mourad Street, where police officers have been stationed for more than three weeks. "The town will be even more beautiful this Friday," the man adds, ahead of the demonstrations on 15 March.

Posted by at March 20, 2019 3:53 AM