Free Headline Alerts     
Worldwide Web


Tuesday, October 27, 2009     FOLLOW UPDATES ON TWITTER

Algerian riots blamed on tensions between unemployed youth, Asians with jobs

CAIRO — Algeria, apparently successful in foiling the Islamic insurgency campaign, faces another threat — rising unrest by the vast numbers of unemployed youth.   

Algerian security forces have been bracing for more violent protests by the nation's young unemployed after an outbreak of rioting on Oct. 20. The anger was said to have been exploited by Al Qaida, which has blamed the joblessness on the huge expatriate labor force in Algeria.

This marked the second major flash of unrest in less than three months. In August, hundreds of Algerians and Chinese laborers clashed in Algiers amid charges that the Asians were violating Islamic norms.

Also In This Edition

"Young people walk around their neighborhoods aimless and see foreigners, particularly Asians, with jobs and money," a Western diplomatic source said. "This fuels a lot of jealousy."

On Oct. 20, Algerian police fought rioters in the nation's capital, Middle East Newsline reported. The battle pitted about 100 protesters, who threw firebombs and stones, against 400 anti-riot police. Reports said 27 people were injured, with one officer seriously wounded.

Witnesses said the battle was fierce and the police force was unable to clear a key road in Algiers. They said the police appeared unequipped to handle the rioters, who hurled debris from a hilltop.

Algerian officials have acknowledged the threat of youth unrest. But they said the threat was exacerbated by the Islamic opposition, including those aligned with Al Qaida. At least 35 people have been investigated for links to the Oct. 20 clash in the Algiers shantytown of Diar Echems.

Five days later, an Algiers court began hearings of 20 young men charged with attacking security forces. The trial, surrounded by a heavy police presence, was monitored by the Algerian Human Rights Defense League.

Violent unrest has been reported in other areas of Algeria in late October. This included riots in the southeastern town of Ruisat, 800 kilometers south of Algiers, as well as in the provinces of Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou. All of the protests were linked to the failure by the government to keep its promises to supply jobs and housing.

The Western diplomatic source said civil unrest could mark the next major threat to the regime of President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. Opposition leaders have charged that Bouteflika squandered the tens of billions of dollars in annual energy revenue, and reported a rise in corruption in the government and security forces.

"The riots of recent years express the outrage of distraught young people hit hard by unemployment, alienation and despair," Algerian analyst Mohammed Hachemaoui, a sociology professor, said. "This is the symptom of a political crisis: the regime causes the riot, which is an extreme and violent means of 'speaking out.'"

About Us     l    Contact Us     l     l
Copyright © 2009    East West Services, Inc.    All rights reserved.