An Algerian court yesterday sentenced 21 protesters to six months in prison for “undermining national unity”, local media reported.
The court’s verdict included a six-month suspended prison sentence for protesters arrested for hoisting a flag representing the country’s Berber minority, Algerian press service (APS) noted.
About ten million Berbers live in eastern Algeria. They have long suffered from marginalization. They speak Tamazight which was recognized as an official language alongside Arabic in Algeria in 2016.
Weeks after protests erupted across the country in February, some protesters were seen holding the Berber (Amazigh) flag next to the national flag. Police arrested them and prohibited them from carrying flags other than the Algerian flag.
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The court postponed the sentencing of 20 other protesters facing the same charges until November 18.
Yesterday, university students organized a rally in the capital to demand the end of the old regime and the realization of radical change.
The Algerian daily El Khabar reported that the march “stopped in front of the headquarters of the Bouira District Council in solidarity with those arrested in the popular movement who are now known as” Bearers of the Amazigh Flag “”.
According to Reuters, “protesters rejected the December 12 presidential election, saying it would not be fair because some of the old guards, including interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Nouredine Bedoui, are still in power.” However, “the military has repeatedly promised transparency for the vote in which five candidates will run, including two former prime ministers.”