Algeria: Continuous violation of press freedom illustrates Gvt’s headlong rush -Le Monde

Algeria: Continuous violation of press freedom illustrates Gvt’s headlong rush -Le Monde

The recent arrest of journalist Ihsane El-Kadi illustrates a repressive headlong rush by the Algerian government, the French daily Le Monde said this Tuesday.

In its editorial, entitled “In Algeria, the calamitous authoritarian overbidding of the regime”, the daily stated that the Algerian regime continues its ”repressive headlong rush” and its ”calamitous authoritarian outbidding.”

“The image of a handcuffed journalist is terrible. The image of a media outlet’s headquarters closed and sealed is despairing. In arresting Ihsane El-Kadi, the director and founder of Radio M and of the magazine Maghreb Emergent, whose offices were searched and closed on December 24, 2022, the authorities in Algiers could not have been unaware of the shock that such a police raid would provoke both in Algeria and abroad,” wrote the editorialist.

Mr. El-Kadi, placed under a detention order on December 29, is an emblematic figure of independent Algerian journalism. With his team, he was at the forefront of the Hirak Movement, protests that arose in 2019 with democratic demands. The tightening of the repressive stranglehold through anti-Covid health restrictions in 2020 had not intimidated him,” added the editorialist for whom “It is a symbol that has just been handcuffed.”

The Editorialist who recalled how the Hirak movement had changed the image of the world about Algeria and aroused its admiration for the peaceful protesting crowds, noted that “Today, we can only be stunned by the repressive reaction from a spiteful regime, after having feared for its survival.”

The full-scale attack on Mr. El-Kadi’s media organization is just the latest episode in a methodical campaign of dismantling the residual centers of the Hirak, for the past two years, the editorialist argued, noting that many of the movement’s figures have been forced into exile to escape prison, with any criticism of the ruling system now charged as “terrorism” and “sabotage.” The atmosphere has become so suffocating that Algerians have come to believe that pluralism of opinion was better under former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was hated for his swerve into corruption and nepotism.

The regime of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune feels confident enough to ignore the collateral damage of its authoritarian overreach. Internally, it thinks it can buy social peace with the rebound of oil prices, according to a proven but false and short-sighted scenario. Externally, the regime is counting on the restoration of Algeria’s strategic credit as an oil and gas giant courted by Europeans looking for alternatives to Russian gas.

In this context, Algerian democrats should not expect much from European diplomacy, at least in the realm of public statements, the editorialist explained, adding that everyone must be well aware of the impasse to which Algiers’ stubbornness is condemned: it is illusory to want to “consolidate the internal front,” to use the official line, by asphyxiating citizenship, the indispensable lifeblood of any nation.

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