Algeria: Hirak Marks 111th Protest Friday Day Amid Global Indifference


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Rabat – Algeria’s Hirak protests today mark the 111th protest Friday, yet international media have roundly ignored this important movement.

Authors normally salivate for stories about large-scale protests demanding democracy, a free press, and a disavowal of military rule. Yet in the case of Algeria’s amazingly persistent hirak (movement) protests, coverage has been sparse, if existent at all.

Large European outlets initially marked the reemergence of protests in February after a year-long COVID-19-influenced hiatus. The BBC, Deutsche Welle, Der Spiegel, and El Pais all covered the renewed protests. However, they have done little to follow up since, despite the machinations of Algeria’s regime to distract or appease the movement with symbolic gestures.

Worst offenders

The worst offenders regarding silence on Algeria’s struggle for freedom have been some of the most prominent international newspapers. Leading outlets including the New York Times, The Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal have all ignored the 2021 protests altogether.

In fact, in these publications the last piece on protests in Algeria often dates back to the pre-COVID-19 era. The New York Times last reported on Algeria’s hirak in October of 2020 while the Wall Street Journal has been silent on the issue since December 2019.

Yet, Algerians are used to being silenced by now. After decades of government oppression and the routine silencing of the domestic media, it appears few are begging for international attention. Instead, protesters continue to consistently show their bravery in the face of possible government reprisals. 

Still it is remarkable that large international outlets that spend millions on payroll broadly ignore the struggle unfolding in the streets of Algeria’s towns and cities. 

Hirak continues 

The sound of political chants, reminiscent of soccer stadiums, and the mass of Algeria’s hirak protesters decked in green and white, make for a spectacle fit for a movie. Yet they receive little attention.

For Algeria’s pseudo-military regime, commonly named “the power” on the streets of the North African country, the silence originating from large global outlets will likely sound like music to its ears. 

The lack of coverage means the aging elite continues to deploy repressive measures seemingly taken straight out the 1980s while generating little outrage abroad. 

The international press’ abdication of responsibility is not just problematic in regard to the hirak’s struggle in Algeria. It also means few understand the origins of “border tensions” with Morocco. 

These tensions often stem from attempts by Algeria’s leadership to galvanize its population against a perceived foreign foe. However, these diversionary tactics were dealt a blow this week as citizens of Algeria and Morocco took to social media to express their sense of mutual love and understanding.