Random highlights from the Algerian media - because English speakers need to follow Algeria news too

Monday, May 29, 2006

Thenia demonstrators behind bars

El Khabar, El Watan: 15 demonstrators at Thenia (Boumerdes, Algeria) have been placed under arrest in Harrach jail in Algiers, charged with destruction of other people's property, destruction of State property, infringement of a constituted body, arson, and infringement of public order. The people of Thenia have contacted lawyers, who described the arrest as "severe and unexpected". The streets of Thenia are now quiet, being full of anti-riot forces. The detainees include a 55-year-old English teacher and a person who lost his mother and four sisters in the earthquake, rendering him head of what remains of the family. A local interviewed by El Watan said that the town's anger had been building up for two years before its recent escalation.

The Friday demonstrations in Thenia took place when supporters left the stadium after the local football club lost its match with Lakhdaria. El Khabar says that the rioters destroyed telephone poles, burned the local cultural center and telephone booths, threw stones at the town hall, and blocked the road. As El Watan tells it, the demonstrators deny any connection with football, speaking instead of jobs, housing, development, and care for the earthquake victims; according to El Khabar, the initially football-related riots rapidly turned into political protests about the marginalized state of Thenia, arguably the town hardest hit by the 2003 earthquake, protesting delays in housing development and repairs. The town remains in a sad state, according to El Khabar: ruined buildings everywhere and garbage in the streets.

Thenia's mayor has told El Watan that he has gotten the message, and will do his best to calm down the inhabitants. Interviewed in El Watan, Ali Bendrici, governor of Boumerdes, insists that the earthquake victims of Thenia have not been forgotten, and are being taken care of. Specifically, he says that in Thenia 2654 of 2697 damaged houses have been taken care of, and 309 of "more than" 614 destroyed houses have received reconstruction aid, leaving only 300 in need of rehousing, of whom 164 have already been rehoused. He acknowledges, however, that reconstruction efforts at Bordj-Menaiel have gone badly, as a result of which the contractors have been changed.

(See also: Boumerdes residents tired of chalets)


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