While Tunisia was having its Arab Spring in 2011 I was wondering what was going on in the neighboring countries such as Algeria. I feel like we don’t hear much about Algeria but it does have an interesting history. Algeria was one of the longest held territories of France until its independence in 1962. Before, gaining independence there was an eight year war between the local Muslim population and the French colonialists. The National Liberation Front (NLF) which was led by Ahmad Ben Bella, represented the local population and because they won the war the NLF established a one-party system. Just three years later Ben Bella’s government collapsed and was taken over by Houari Boumédiène.
In 1988 people took to the streets and started protesting for a more democratic system, lowering food prices and unemployment. This protest turned violent when the military opened fire. However, many new economic polices were established as a result. From 1991-2004 Algeria went through a civil war. During this time frame in 2001 there was The Black Spring which fought to recognize the Berber language and culture.
This background information is important to keep in mind when discussing Algeria. Even though there were demonstrations in 2011 the government did everything in their power to keep things peaceful and to avoid losing power.
Some people believe that one of the reasons that there was no violence in Algeria during this 2011 uprising is because it reminded people of their past. In 1988 people took to the streets to protest which resulted to violence. It is believed that there were many similarities between 1988 and 2011 (Volpi 2013). Unemployment and the increasing food prices was the reason for the 1988 Revolution in Algeria. Sporadic protests did take place in Algeria however, it was not enough to take down the government. As a result of the protests the government decided that it was in its best interest to lower food prices.
In 2011 when Mohamed Bouazizi a food vendor, lit himself on fire it inspired many people in similar situations to to do the same all over Algeria. This led to some protests in Algiers but was quickly stopped. Abdelaziz Bouteflika who is currently the leader of Algeria not only learned from the country’s past but also, learned from the surrounding countries in North Africa. One of the ways that deterred a collapse of the government was avoiding the use of violence as well as promising positive changes for the people. Below is Bouteflika’s picture.
Below is a recipe for Algerian Bouzgene Berber Bread with Roasted Pepper Sauce.
Berber’s are an ethnic group throughout North Africa. While they are Algerian they do not identify themselves as Arabs.
4 tomatoes 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped salt to taste 2 pounds semolina 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste 3 cups water, or as needed 4 tablespoons olive oil 6 tablespoons olive oil for frying Add all ingredients to list
Preheat your oven’s broiler. Place red bell peppers and tomatoes on a baking sheet, and roast under the broiler for about 8 minutes, turning occasionally. This should blacken the skin and help it peel off more easily. Cool, then scrape the skins off of the tomatoes and peppers, and place them in a large bowl. Remove cores and seeds from the bell peppers.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the jalapenos and garlic, and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and transfer the garlic and jalapeno to the bowl with the tomatoes and red peppers. Using two sharp steak knives (one in each hand), cut up the tomatoes and peppers to a coarse and soupy consistency. Stir, and set sauce aside.
Place the semolina in a large bowl, and stir in salt and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Gradually add water while mixing and squeezing with your hand until the dough holds together without being sticky or dry, and molds easily with the hand. Divide into 6 pieces and form into balls.
For each round, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Roll out dough one round at a time, to no thicker than 1/4 inch. Fry in the hot skillet until dark brown spots appear on the surface, and they are crispy. Remove from the skillet, and wrap in a clean towel while preparing the remaining flat breads.
To eat the bread and sauce, break off pieces of the bread, and scoop them into the sauce. It will slide off, but just keep reaching in!
Laoubi, K., & Yamao, M. (2012). The Challenge of Agriculture in Algeria: Are Policies Effective?. Bulletin of Agricultural and Fisheries Economics, 12(1), 65-73.
Del Panta, G. (2014, July). Why did not authoritarian regime fall in Algeria?. In Paper presented at the ECPR Graduate Conference (Vol. 3, p. 5).
Volpi, F. (2013). Algeria versus the Arab spring. Journal of Democracy, 24(3), 104-115.