A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, July 10, 2015

Army Responds to Renewed Ethno-Religious Violence in Ghardaïa, Mzab

The Algerian Army has deployed in the Mzab Oasis towns pf Ghardaïa, Guerara, and Berriane following renewed ethno-sectarian violence between the Arab Sunni and Amazigh Ibadi communities. At least 22 people died in violent clashes over the past week. President Bouteflika ordered the Army in and Prime Minister Sallal has visited the troubled region

Ironically, in my first week or two of writing this blog back in 2009, I was reporting on clashes in Berriane. (Kal at The Moor Next Door wrote a detailed response to that post, from which I learned much.) In late  2013, violence was renewed after desecration of a cemetery, and has broken out sporadically sense. What were once mostly Amazigh towns are now mixed, and the language split (which as Kal noted is not like in the Kabyle, where French was more entrenched in colonial times) is reinforced by the fact the Arabs are Sunni and the Berbers Ibadi. As Lemeen Souag pointed out in 2014, even the etymology and spelling of Ghardaïa are matters of dispute.

The government is apparently blaming the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), a Berber-based opposition party whose main strength is in the Kabyle, and has arrested a local FFS activist in the Mzab, Kameleddine Fekhar,

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