COVID-19: ‘The Movement observes a truce’ (Algeria)

The following article by Ryad Hamadi was published on 20 March by TSA, Algeria’s most-visited news site.

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Against apprehensions shared on social media – and even a few idiotic calls for mobilisation – Algerians did not march today [Friday 20 March].

No meetings or marches of any kind occurred anywhere across the country. Caution against spreading the virus – following news of its ravages across the world – and the pleas of numerous Movementist and political figures appear to compelled hirakistes to follow reason.

In Algiers, the epicentre of the struggle since 22 February, the roads this Friday were almost deserted, for the first time since the start of the Movement.

A little after the call to prayer – no longer occurring in mosques, on account of their closure – that usually serves as the ‘Now!’ for marches, it is hard to remember that, only a week ago, central Algiers was thronged with people [noire de monde]. Today, hardly anyone risked venturing out.

It was the first time since 22 February 2019 that Algerians have observed a truce. Indeed, this was expected: last Tuesday students opted for an awareness-raising exercise of not protesting, and a number of voices – amongst them the most-respected of the Movement – called for the suspension of marches, and to wait for ‘the return to normal’.

Calls came particularly from lawyers, including Mustapha Bouchachi and Abdelghani Badi. Karim Tabou suggested that ‘intelligence must lead [doit primer]’, in order to preserve the Movement’s gains. ‘In revolutions, reason should guide passion’, said Said Sadi.

Other personalities, including Abdelaziz Rahabi, Nourredine Melikeci, and Soufiane Djilali had called for the suspension of the demonstrations. Political parties, including Jil Jadid [New Generation], the Front des Forces socialistes (FFS), the Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Démocratie (RCD), and the Parti des travailleurs (PT), made the same call for truce. [1]

These added to the general awareness pandemic’s dangers (now a priority of world affairs), to President [Abdelmadjid] Tebboune’s banning of meetings and marches, and doctors’ own calls.

The Movement’s withdrawal, without doubt momentary, has already won hirakistes praise online for their ‘responsibility’ at this exceptional conjuncture.

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[1] The largest parties of the new, Movementist bloc, the Forces du pacte de l’Alternative démocratique (PAD).

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