human rights – Liby Amazigh Wed, 16 Mar 2022 09:40:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 human rights – Liby Amazigh 32 32 Escalating Conflict in Kabylie (Part 1 of 2) Wed, 16 Mar 2022 09:40:38 +0000

**This is the first of a two-part series covering the Kabyle-Algerian conflict. The second part will deal with specific allegations of genocide by the Kabyle government in exile against the Algerian state and the petitions it has filed with two tribunals.


While wildfires occur almost every year in Algeria in the northeast region of Tizi Ouzou in the Kabylie region, last August they ravaged the once verdant region, destroying hundreds of thousands of hectares, incinerating thousands of homes and killing at least 90 people. . The disaster has provoked cross accusations and allegations from the recently installed Algerian government – which has little popular support – and the exiled government of Kabylia – which represents the Amazigh (Berber) population known as Kabyles.

The current situation – with little or no media coverage – is the culmination of events dating back decades, to Algeria’s independence from France in the 1960s and the emergence of the Kabyle independence movement.

Independence of Kabylie and Hirak movements

President Abdelmajid Tebboune is the successor to the corrupt 20-year reign of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who died on September 17, 2021 at the age of 84. Bouteflika had been in poor health since 2013 and his term ended in disgrace. in 2019. His long-awaited retirement was precipitated by massive popular protests by the pro-democracy Hirak movement that year.

Hailing from the Kabylie region, the Hirak sought to overhaul the entire system of Algerian government, in place since the North African country’s independence from France in 1962. Although often compared in the Arab Spring that started with Tunisia in 2011, the Algerian Hirak “spring” did not turn into summer and Tebboune took office on December 19, 2019. He won with 58% of the vote in an election with less than 40% voter turnout.

Almost three months later, in March 2020, Tebboune banned all “marches and gatherings, whatever their motives”, ostensibly to protect the population from the Covid-19 pandemic. But many saw it as a pretext that was used to restrict all freedom of expression, assembly and opposition to the regime.

In March 2020, Tebboune banned all “marches and gatherings, whatever their motives”.

Nevertheless, protests by the Hirak movement returned to the streets in February 2021, and have continued throughout the year despite hundreds of arrests, including a 14-year-old girl who was arrested in December and then sent back to judgment for “attending an unarmed meeting”. gathering.'”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released its 2021 World Report documenting a litany of human rights violations in 2020 by the Algerian state against journalists, doctors and women.

The Kabyle independence movement (not mentioned in the HRW report) has championed the independence aspirations of the Kabyle people since the 1980s. The Kabyles constitute the largest homogeneous cultural-linguistic-ethnic Amazigh community in Algeria. They are estimated to constitute around 40% of the Algerian population, although the exact figures are disputed. Their homeland, Kabylie, is the mountainous region of northern Algeria, just 100 kilometers east of the country’s capital, Algiers, which stretches along the Mediterranean coast.

The Kabyles have perhaps been the indigenous Amazigh people of North Africa (from Morocco to Egypt) who have most spoken out in opposition to the “Arabization” of their homeland and culture. While other countries like Morocco have taken steps to recognize the rights and acknowledge the cultural renaissance of their indigenous Amazigh population, Algerian regimes have seen this as a challenge to their legitimacy. It was not until 2002 that the Kabyle language (dialect of Tamazight) was made a “national language” by the Algerian Constitution. However, it only became an “official” language, alongside Arabic, in 2016.

Algerian government cracks down with arrests and disappearances

In May 2021, the Algerian government declared The Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK) a terrorist organization and issued an international arrest warrant against the President of the Kabyle Provisional Government in exile, Ferhat Mehenni, who resides in Paris.

The Algerian government accused the Kabyle independence movement of deliberately starting the fires.

A few months later, in August 2021, while offering no evidence to support this claim, the Algerian government accused the Kabyle independence movement of deliberately starting the fires. He then launched a new wave of arrests and detentions, including 27 suspected MAK members after an attack in two northern towns.

Algerian police kidnapped, disappeared and detained activist Kamira Naït Sid, co-president of the Amazigh World Congress, an international NGO that defends the rights of the Amazigh people. Her family learned a few days later that she had been arrested on or around August 28.

On September 12, police officers from Tizi Ouzou arrested Mohamed Mouloudj, a reporter for the local independent newspaper Freedom, and raided his home, according to a statement from his employer and dispatches. Two days later, an Algiers court charged him with spreading false news, undermining national unity and belonging to a terrorist group. Since then, he has been detained, pending an investigation.

[Algerian Hirak Makes Comeback Despite Government Maneuvers]

The MAK against the “propaganda machine” of Algiers

In response to the Algerian government’s allegations, Mehenni called two press conferences, on August 31 and September 24, 2021 in Paris. At first, he claimed that the Algerian government was attempting genocide by burning large swaths of its people’s homeland, Kabylia. He also condemned the Algerian government for setting the fires in an attempt to stifle the independence movement.

He recited a long litany of accusations, including:

“I accuse Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of threatening my life.

I accuse the Algerian regime of torture and crimes against humanity.

I accuse the government and the army of burning Kabylia and refusing to put out the fire and block international aid.

“I accuse the Algerian regime of torture and crimes against humanity.”

He accused “Algeria of lying about all these things”, and the government’s strategy to “demonize the Kabyle people” and “influence international public opinion to think that the MAK was behind the fires”.

Mehenni also condemned the brutal lynching and burning of the body of Djamel Ben Ismail, 37, a young activist who had traveled to the Kabylia region to help put out the fires. The savage murder happened in the presence of the police who did almost nothing to stop the assault. Mehenni said the assassination was filmed on cellphones and shared on social media and was so gruesome that it “can never be invisible”.

“I feel moved in my flesh and in my soul by the Algerian propaganda machine,” he concluded. Regarding his arrest warrant, Mehenni said, “I hope France will refuse to extradite an innocent person.”

Arrest of Kamira Naït Sid, co-president of the World Amazigh Congress

Asked by Inside Arabia during the press conference on what had happened to Kamira Naït Sid and on the veracity of the reports that she had been tortured, Mehenni declared that she had been kidnapped “without witnesses and without any legal procedure”. He said it’s been ‘almost a week, and we still don’t have an account of the charges against the woman who is the president of an NGO… At the moment there is complete opacity about her whereabouts. and on the PDA charges”. He added that “the lawyers will have to meet her to find out if she was tortured”.

Human rights organization Front Line Defenders (FLD) later confirmed that Naït Sid was abducted by Algerian security forces from her home in Draa-Ben-Khedda, near Tizi Ouzou. She had been reported missing by her family for eight days before security services finally confirmed she was in custody in Algiers.

Naït Sid had been abducted by Algerian security forces from her home in Draa-Ben-Khedda.

Naït Sid was brought before an investigating judge at the Sidi M’hamed court in Algiers on September 1 on eight counts, including “undermining national unity and state security” and “belonging to a terrorist organization”. She faces ten years to life in prison and/or the death penalty.

Her sister, women’s rights defender Zina Naït Sid, was also arrested by security forces without a warrant on August 29, 2021 but was released the next day without being charged.

FLD published on its website that Naït Sid is “targeted for her legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights”.

The Association of Mountain Populations of the World (APMM) based in Paris [Association of World Mountain Populations] released a statement on November 27, saying the terrorism charge against Naït Sid is “totally far-fetched and not based on any credible factual basis.” He claimed she was being arbitrarily detained “in violation of international standards” and strongly denounced her “wrongful incarceration”.

The accusation of terrorism against Naït Sid is “completely far-fetched and not based on any credible factual element”.

Lounès Belkacem, the secretary general of the CMA, declared Inside Arabia that in terrorism cases, Algerian law provides for “a four-month pre-trial detention, renewable five times, but it is up to the judge to decide whether or not to extend the pre-trial detention”. He added that for the purposes of the UN and the African Commission on Human Rights, Nait Sid’s status is that of “prisoner in arbitrary detention”.

Inside Arabia reached one of her lawyers, Maître Allik, who confirmed that she had been in pre-trial detention for more than four months, without having been heard by the investigating judge until now. The main charge against her, he said, is “belonging to a terrorist organization”, although she “does not share the ideas of the MAK”.

He added that Nait Sid’s imprisonment is a violation of human rights because of “political conditions in Algeria”, in complete disregard of his affiliation with a non-governmental organization.

Allik, who is in Algiers, did not confirm reports of torture. However, according to Aksel Meziane, spokesperson for the government in exile, “torture has become a common practice in Algerian police stations, barracks and prisons”.

The MAK seized the International Criminal Court

During MAK’s second press conference held on September 24, 2021, the group announced that it had filed a human rights complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against the Algerian government, alleging the ” genocide” of the Kabyle people.

The Song of Ardent Desire by Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi Thu, 10 Mar 2022 14:43:50 +0000 Inimitable Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi’s latest exhibition, Le Chant de l’Ardent Désir, is a transcendental and hypnotic experience that compels the viewer to examine our shared experiences of loss, nostalgia, human suffering and dignity.

It is difficult to describe the phenomenological experience of the encounter with the language of the Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi.

A gateway to the unseen and the divine, his art is as aesthetically stunning as it is spiritually moving, and there are notions that Koraichi’s third US exhibition at New York’s Aicon Gallery, The Song of Ardent Desire , perfectly embodies in its presentation of four bodies of work spinning on the function of calligraphy and symbolic philology.

“Koraichi’s paintings and sculptures are precise, geometric and hypnotic meditative”

The title of the show is also the name of an eponymous series of six large-scale alabaster tablets that shimmer under subtle light. Their immaculate color recalls the salt lakes of the Tunisian desert or the solemnity of tombstones.

Alabaster was widely used in ancient Egypt – where it was associated with Bast (or Bastet), a protective deity – and in Mesopotamian cultures. At first heavy and majestic, on closer inspection, the works of art under The Song of Ardent Desire (2021) exude softness and sophistication.

The Song of Ardent Desire II by Rachid Koraïchi (2021) [Courtesy of Aicon Gallery]

On these 43×43 inch tablets we see detailed lace-like inscriptions that convey symmetry and the optical illusion of a portal to other realms. In these works, we recognize Koraïchi’s passion for attentive and respectful craftsmanship.

Intricate carvings, such as the nine circles of The Song of Ardent Desire II (2021) evoke a mystical map, guiding the imagery towards self-exploration echoing the presence of numerological clues and cosmological composition.

In the series The Vigilants, the Night (2021), the shapes of 14 corten steel sculptures painted black recall endangered human silhouettes. They cast long shadows on the ground, casting a reminder of residue and loss, an effect the artist had previously explored in The Prayer of the Absent (2013-2015).

Koraïchi captures the fragility of human life and individuality. Each sculpture incorporates unique traits and symbols into skeletal-like totem structures.

We feel haunted by their undefined absence and presence, an ambiguity that embraces an abstract form of existence, forcing our gaze to transcend the boundaries of the visible, the corporeal and the palpable.

The Vigilants by Rachid Koraïchi (2021) [Courtesy of Aicon Gallery]

The Vigilants, the Night…XIV (2021) shows a wide-legged figure as if the character seeks to anchor each of their legs to opposing shores or borders, with detail framing an area of ​​the upper body that channels a sense of movement and the will to act .

Koraïchi further explores afterglow and enchantment in 14 stunning paintings in the series The Mountain of Stars (2021) – a name reminiscent of Jabal an-Nour near Mecca, or the Mountain of Light, where the Prophet Muhammad first received revelation.

the The Mountain of Stars The artworks, where golden white acrylic paint contrasts with a rich indigo background, explore fluidity of form, luminosity, dynamism and an attempt to capture a polyphony that speaks to the universal.

Their multidimensionality sometimes gives the appearance of ceramic tiles or traditional textiles. In The Mountain of Stars III (2021) Koraïchi draws an unconscious atlas, a sacred geography and an altar of celestial magnificence.

Mountain XIV by Rachid Koraïchi (2021) [Courtesy of Aicon Gallery]

Koraïchi’s paintings and sculptures are precise, geometric and hypnotic meditative.

By affixing calligraphy, glyphs, ephemerides and semiotic characters, the artist pays homage to Arab, Amazigh and other heritages while reinterpreting a personal cosmology and an expression of the divine of Sufi inspiration.

Koraichi’s close engagement with the Quran underpins his understanding of scripture as a vehicle of faith, heritage and culture.

Language, as art, verb, humanity and the possibility of being together, imprints the exhibition and, in doing so, recalls Arab experiences in the history of modern art, such as the Hurufiyyah movement (himself even reviving the Hurufi movement of the 14th-15th centuries). which erected letters and calligraphy into objects of spirituality and mysticism). Koraïchi qualifies his work as an “alphabet of memory” which suggests composing a genealogy of becoming.

“Koraïchi captures the fragility of human life and individuality… We feel haunted by their undefined absence and presence, an ambiguity that embraces an abstract form of existence, forcing our gaze to transcend the limits of the visible, of the corporeal and the palpable”

The show follows the recent opening of a UNESCO-listed site, Jardin d’Afrique. The values ​​of a shared humanity are not anecdotal in the life of Koraïchi because Jardin d’Afrique is a cemetery and a shelter that the artist designed in the south of Tunisia, on land he bought in 2018 , for migrants and asylum seekers who hope to find a better future north of the Mediterranean Sea.

“I wanted to help them get to heaven after the hell they went through,” he said in an interview, influenced by the words of his late grandfather who told him: “He who dies very rich has wasted his life because he did not know how to share.”

The site was inaugurated in June 2021 and, designed as a space of dignity and resistance to violence, includes a cemetery housing 200 white graves and a non-denominational prayer hall among olive trees and traditional grounds.

“His cemetery is not only a consolation for the lost souls of the Mediterranean and their loved ones, but it is also a work that expresses – better than a hundred speeches could do – a pain that must be shared between the north and the south”. wrote award-winning author David Diop.

African Garden by Rachid Koraïchi (2021) [Courtesy of Aicon Gallery]

Now based in Paris, France, the Algerian-born multimedia artist (b. 1947) won the Jameel Prize (2011) and exhibited his recent works at the Biennale de Marrakech (2016), two editions of the Biennale de Venice, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (2015) in addition to the British Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and other institutions.

In his work, Koraïchi often paid homage to Sufi masters like Ibn Arabi and Rumi, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and the Algerian author Mohammed Dib.

Knowing the artist’s commitment to freedom, solidarity and respect for human rights, the impressive woven tapestry, African Garden (2021), depicts an imaginary place of arrival as much as the desired horizon. African Garden depicts a circle floating in a body of water, framed by a square and a multitude of codes and scriptures that appear as epitaphs, ancient whispering and elegiac poetry to awaken a lost sense of empathy.

Koraïchi has transformed the gallery into a sanctuary and a spiritual journey. We reach the tapestry after passing the alabaster tablets and hollow sculptural ghosts of the series The Vigilants, the Night.

Koraïchi has symbolically reconstructed a map of his garden in southern Tunisia where brave souls, often anonymous, can finally rest and he asks us not to look away.

“The sublime is an experience in search of context”, wrote Simon Morley. What survives inside and outside the works are the illegible and indelible traces of common destinies.

Through a visual lexicon testifying to human suffering and dignity, Rachid Koraïchi invents a new performative grammar to challenge the limits of representation and indifference.

Farah Abdessamad is a New York-based essayist/critic from France and Tunisia.

Follow her on Twitter: @farahstlouis

Hamza Nasri: A new chapter in the intimidation of human rights defenders Wed, 02 Feb 2022 08:00:00 +0000

اضغط هنا لقراءة هذا البيان الصّحفي بالعربيّة

Click here to read this press release in English

The undersigned organizations condemn the prison sentence of queer activist and human rights defender Hamza Nasri after his participation in a peaceful march on January 18, 2021. The Tunis Court of First Instance sentenced him to three months in prison for assault a public official by words and gestures under the provisions of Article 125 of the Tunisian Penal Code.

Tunisia witnessed massive protests in January 2021 in light of the country’s economic and political circumstances. During these demonstrations, numerous human rights violations were committed by the security forces against the demonstrators gathered, particularly in the working-class neighborhoods of the various states of the Republic of Tunisia. These violations included instances of excessive use of force, violence to disperse demonstrators and demonstrators, the extensive use of tear gas, as well as the direct throwing of gas canisters into homes and at demonstrators from a distance. deadly. In this context, the young Tunisian Haikel Al-Rashdi died of a serious head injury following his participation in social demonstrations in the city of Sbeitla. Many activists have also been arrested by security forces for incitement after posting support for social protests on social media.

On January 18, 2021, Hamza Nasri took part in a peaceful demonstration in Tunis to denounce the deterioration of the economic and political situation in the country. After the demonstration, he was followed and arrested by police officers as he was returning home. Moreover, Hamza Nasri’s lawyer received falsified information from Beb Suwaiqa and Beb Bhar police stations regarding his whereabouts. Hamza was later charged with deliberately making an inappropriate finger gesture towards police officers. During interrogation, Hamza said he participated, like other citizens, in a peaceful march calling for the improvement of the civil, political, economic and social rights of the Tunisian people. He added that during the stampede of protesters he was attacked by people he did not know were plainclothes police.

In response to Hamza’s statements, the police officers in question claimed that the activist had attempted to assault them and made lewd gestures towards them in the line of duty. After two trials since January 18, 2021, the first on December 09, 2021 and the second on January 24, 2022, the sentence was pronounced on January 31, 2022. The correctional chamber of the Tunis court of first instance sentenced Hamza to 3 months in prison. imprisoned in absentia because he was not present in the courtroom, which the organizations consider a flagrant breach of procedure and a formal flaw.

This defection in the procedure risks depriving Hamza Nasri of a contentious phase. He was given a custodial sentence based on allegations used by the state and security forces to intimidate human rights defenders.

The signatory organizations therefore express:

  • Their solidarity with activist and human rights defender Hamza Nasri. They denounce the Tunisian State’s policy of intimidation towards human rights defenders. Targeting activists in such circumstances and threatening them with such unjust sentences is a form of political violence and an attempt to deny their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  • Their rejection of the verdict against activist Hamza Nasri. These allegations are the security forces’ means of intimidating activists and silencing them. Tunisian law does not specify the exact definition of what can be considered “aggression of a public official” under Article 125. This allows authorities to interpret it broadly to criminalize and restrict freedom of expression. .

The organizations denounce the prosecution of the activists by accusing them of assaulting a public official, a common accusation widely used by police forces against citizens, especially activists, journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. man, with the intention of silencing them and criminalizing legitimate individual freedoms.

The signatory organizations urge defenders of rights and freedoms to face all attempts to undermine freedoms and human rights.

Undersigned organizations

  • Tunisian League for Human Rights
  • Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
  • The Tunisian Organization Against Torture
  • Tunisian Association of Democratic Women
  • The Tunisian Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
  • Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
  • Association to activate the right to disagree
  • Southern Dancers
  • Damj, the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality
  • Beite Association
  • international warning organization
  • Association Citizenship, Development, Cultures and Migration of the Two Shores
  • Association of Young Leaders in Tunisia
  • Free Vision Association
  • Manamati Association against all forms of discrimination
  • The Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDH)
  • Aswat Nissaa
  • Kayan Association
  • Association Washm
  • ‘Mawdoon’ initiative for equality
  • Association ‘ARTHEMIS’ for the protection of rights and freedoms
  • Nashaz Association
  • Tahadi Association
  • Speak up for freedom of expression and creativity
  • Tunisian Association for Positive Prevention ATP+
  • The Tunisian Association of the Cultural Movement
  • The Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities
  • World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)
  • Euro-Mediterranean rights
  • Street Arts Association
  • Tawhida Bin Al-Sheikh Group
  • The Vigilance Committee for Democracy in Tunisia, Belgium
  • Banna Association for Media and Development
  • Tunisian Association of Young Doctors
  • Association Vigilance for Democracy and Civil Status
  • equality organization
  • Minority Rights Group (MRG)
  • Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms

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Moroccan official says restoring relations with Spain needs a lot of clarity – Middle East Monitor Fri, 21 Jan 2022 08:00:00 +0000

Morocco believes that restoring relations with Spain needs a lot of clarity, government spokesman Mustapha Baitas said in remarks to the media after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

“With regard to Spain… King Mohammed VI underlined, last August, the importance of strategic relations between Rabat and Madrid… two years ago, the King also set the benchmark for the external relations of our countries with a group of countries in two main principles: ambition and clarity. “, said Baitas.

“The ambition is there and Spain has expressed it, but for the ambition to be strengthened we need a lot of clarity,” he added.

The position of the Moroccan government comes days after the King of Spain, Felipe VI, stressed the importance of redefining relations between his country and Morocco on stronger and more solid pillars.

Moroccan Organization for Human Rights: the issue of the Amazigh language does not meet expectations

In May last year, Morocco recalled Karima Benyaich, its ambassador to Spain, for consultation after news broke that Spain was sheltering Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali.

The decision by senior Spanish officials to allow Ghali to stay in a hospital in Spain angered Morocco, which described the move as going against the spirit of partnership and cooperation between the two countries.

The diplomatic crisis between the two countries escalated further in May, when at least 6,000 migrants reached the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from neighboring Morocco, angering Madrid.

At the time, Spanish officials said most of the migrants came from Morocco.

deprivation of liberty and mass arrests in Kabylie Sun, 09 Jan 2022 23:10:51 +0000

Like every year in North Africa, the New Year takes place on a date that corresponds to January 12 of the Gregorian calendar. The year 2022 corresponds to the year 2972 ​​of the Berber calendar (Amazigh calendar).

Unfortunately, this year will be celebrated in the sadness that Kabylia has just relived after a bloody period of dictator Houari Boumedienne who murdered hundreds of Kabyles in indifference since his seizure of power by a military putsch led in 1965, until his death in 1978 in Algeria.

A wave of arbitrary arrests of peaceful activists has accelerated further since the corrupt regime changed its appearance through the fraudulent presidential elections of December 12, 2019 in Algeria, which Kabylia has always refused, since then a series of warrants stops and deposits have multiplied. The ruling military junta has decided to suppress any demonstration calling for their release, an unprecedented manhunt against the main Kabyle militants is taking place in several localities, including Tizi Ouzou, Béjaïa and Kherrata.

The Algerian leaders must put an end to the repression and proceed to the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, imprisoned by a magistrature in the pay of the military junta. Given the situation, these detentions remain arbitrary insofar as they target people whose only fault is to have peacefully demanded a rule of law guaranteeing individual and collective freedoms while respecting human rights.

In Algeria, the repression of any democratic claim and respect for human rights goes through the stigmatization of Kabylia. Not a day goes by without an arrest or summons being issued against an individual or an organization. Often in violation of applicable laws by false accusations. However, none of the targeted actors is responsible or has committed any act of violence.

This unprecedented campaign of arrests of academics, intellectuals and other political activists has reached proportions which leave no doubt, it seems, of the famous “Operation Zero Kabyles” which is far from being the fruit of “the imaginary”. A situation that has generated a deep feeling of anguish and injustice to the point that citizens feel threatened in their freedom and are subject to arrest.

UN committee says. Meet the woman who helped make the historic decision to undermine a country for upholding the right to life at sea Sat, 25 Dec 2021 23:58:25 +0000

Dr Yussef Wahid and his wife Manal Wahid cook dinner in Duisburg refugee camp in Germany as they tell me about the 10 years of limbo they endured after surviving a life-killing shipwreck to their four little daughters. This isn’t where they thought they were when they decided to take a small boat from Libya and cross the Mediterranean Sea. A road which sees thousands of people die while fleeing their country of origin, often because of war, genocide, political and religious persecution.

No one intervened after we called from the sea. They did not rescue us so that fewer people arrive in Europe, so other migrants are too afraid to come, ”he said.

“We were meant to be a lesson for other refugees not to come to Europe. There is no other reason for this, ”said Dr Wahid.

He and his wife Manal were on a boat with their 4 young children which contained more than 400 migrants who capsized in 2013. Leaving 200 dead because neither Italy nor Malta intervened after repeated phone calls from migrants at sea. Another example of a humanitarian disaster that has intensified the recalcitrant debate in Europe on the management of boat crossings between countries. A phenomenon that has left thousands of migrants dead at sea and in political limbo due to slow and often ineffective bureaucracy and regulations.

Dr Wahid and his family are from Syria and, according to a document produced by Amnesty International in 2019, Syria has been listed as the main country of origin for refugees. The Wahids are Kurdish-Syrians, the largest ethnic minority in Syria, and due to severe discrimination and policies of persecution against the Kurds, the Wahids like many others have been forced to leave the country due to discrimination. from Syria to the ethnic minority. Then Wahid’s mother called him for

he was in Russia to finish his medical studies saying that Interpol was looking for him. “I was wanted by Interpol because I was an activist who spoke to people so as not to be afraid of their Kurdish identity and that was a problem,” Wahid explains.

In order to ease tensions within Syria and allow the Kurds to work, “the Kurdish party asked the Libyan government for authorization that Kurdish militants who had specific training, who could no longer work in Syria or in Russia, be authorized by Libya to work in hospitals there. . ”

In 2011, when the Gaddafi regime ended with his death due to the Libyan revolution, a movement started even there. “People started to protest and the pot started to boil there too. We created a committee there to end the inequality. We Kurds also wanted our freedoms there. When we had our committee meetings, after one or two meetings, Islamist extremists infiltrated, they wanted to move the group in another direction, but I withdrew from that group because it was not the ideal in which I believed ”, explains Wahid.

“When we left this committee, we learned that these Islamist extremists were members of the Islamic State. Some of my colleagues were murdered, beheaded, others disappeared and I was threatened either to leave Libya or to be killed. ISIS believes that the Kurds are not Muslim believers, and this is because the Kurds were often converted and for ISIS not true Muslim believers and therefore can never be fundamentalists ”, explains Wahid.

Dr Wahid explains that there were around 40 other doctors with their families who decided to flee to the sea: “When we left Libya by sea, the Libyans shot at our boat, near Italy, the boat started to sink. 268 people died on this ship, including our 4 daughters. Dr Wahid is moved, his wife sobbing as she remembers what happened in 2013 that changed their lives forever.

Last year, in an unprecedented decision, the UN Human Rights Committee blamed a specific country, in this case Italy, for allowing 200 migrants to die at sea for failing to not to have impressed the obligation of a State on a search and rescue intervention at sea. Italy was found to be at fault because the country’s rescue operation “failed to respond promptly” to distress calls after the vessel was shot down “by a Berber-flagged boat in international waters”, approximately 70 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. , said the committee of 18 experts.

Hélène Tigroudja is one of the members of the UNHCR Executive Board who helped take the historic decision to identify Italy’s failure to protect “the right to life” at sea.

“The decision of the Human Rights Committee is important because it is the first decision taken at the international level. It is therefore the first time that a human rights organization has applied the right to life at sea and carried out precise due diligence on a State’s obligation on a search and rescue area ”, explains Tigroudja. .

The two states involved in the drowning of more than 200 migrants in 2013 took 7 years and involved Italy and Malta. “It took 7 years for the victims and the families of those who died. 7 years to arrive and arrive at this decision. 7 years because before the request reaches the Human Rights Committee, applicants must exhaust domestic remedies. But the domestic remedies did not work at all, ”explains Tigroudja. “This decision is an important step in eligibility,” and in accountability, she said.

But all the facts are still not understood. “It is not clear what happened in 2013 and why the Italian authorities did not act quickly. Victims and families want the truth and the facts to shed light.

Italian human rights lawyer Andrea Saccucci, who represents some of the surviving families in a single appeal for Malta and Italy on behalf of the survivors of the shipwreck, said that “Italy usually intervenes, but this times she delayed the rescue. . ”

“These decisions aim to improve the situation by making it clear that states cannot avoid their responsibility by simply alleging that something has happened beyond their borders. The meaning of this decision is to avoid any loophole in terms of human rights, ”explains Saccucci.

The neglect of refugees and the dehumanization of people fleeing their homes for a chance at a righteous life are certainly not new and are among the reasons why this unprecedented decision by UNHCR is important, “the problem and death in sea ​​have for many years been dramatic for asylum seekers. So it is very important now to have this decision. But from a legal point of view, there are no satisfactory conclusions. It was a while important to tell countries, even when people are at sea, that they have rights and human rights, not just when they arrive on land, but even at sea, they have the right to life, ”said Tigrudja.

“If necessary and relevant, the Italian state has an obligation to try people for the deaths of refugees. ”

Dr Yusef Wahid and his wife Manal Wahid are now refugees in Duisburg, Germany, where they live in a refugee camp in “poor conditions”, they say. They are completely dependent on the state and are unable to work as they did in their home countries, Syria and Russia, where Dr Wahid studied epidemiology. Despite their education and abilities, they lived in limbo for years.

Tunisia: in brief | New Internationalist Wed, 01 Dec 2021 19:31:06 +0000


December 1, 2021

Outside the Medina of Tunis. CLÉMENT ARBIB

Earlier this year, outside a local cafe just off a busy street in one of Tunis’s sprawling neighborhoods, a group of teenagers talked about their country’s affairs. They hated the police, who beat and arrested their friends. They felt, on the whole, lost and hopeless. “Once I’m 18 I’ll try to cross over to Europe with my friends – at least there’s money there,” one said.

How is it that 10 years after the Tunisians ousted the autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – at the origin of what has often been hailed as the only democratic achievement of the Arab Spring – they still feel so dejected? ?

Tunisia visibly bears the imprint of its various occupants and civilizations. Traces of its indigenous Amazigh people can be found in its dialect and its cuisine. Carthaginian and Roman ruins are scattered across the landscape, from the Punic port of Tunis, shaped like a crescent moon, to the impressive Roman amphitheater of El Jem. The Muslim Arab conquest of the 7th century converted many Tunisians to Islam, while Ottoman rule shaped its buildings and towns. The French established a protectorate in 1881, which again transformed the culture, language and economy of Tunisia.

Since obtaining its independence from France in 1956, until the revolution of 2011, Tunisians had lived only under two presidents: Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali. Both were ruthless strong men who suppressed dissent.

Bourguiba carried out sweeping reforms – many of which benefited the poor and women – that kept the debate over his legacy alive today. When Ben Ali came to power in 1987, he said his leadership would usher in a new era. He organized elections and needed to take a gentler approach to religious fundamentalists.

However, in 1991 he banned the Islamist Ennahdha party. Human rights violations escalated as Ben Ali further strengthened the national security forces. Although the middle class prospered under Ben Ali, economic inequalities have widened. He would win every election in the next 24 years with an overwhelming majority of votes.

It is this dysfunctional state and this economic misery that pushed Mohammed Bouazizi, a fruit seller in the inner city of Sidi Bouzid, to set himself on fire in December 2010, triggering demonstrations across the country. On January 14, Ben Ali fled the country with his family – and suitcases of gold and silver stolen – to Saudi Arabia. He died there in 2019.

In the years following the revolution, Tunisia experienced its first free and fair elections, sweeping the ruling Ennahdha party. In 2014, a new constitution was drawn up which ensured a careful separation of powers and made Tunisia a secular state.

Ennahdha supporters demonstrate in Tunis on February 27, 2021. HASAN MRAD / SHUTTERSTOCK

But the last decade has also seen assassinations of political figures and horrific terrorist attacks, while attempts to migrate across the Mediterranean Sea have increased. In the midst of successive chaotic governments, the Tunisian dinar has devalued considerably and purchasing power has sharply reduced. Tunisia is currently negotiating its fourth IMF loan in a decade.

It is in this context that an unlikely populist candidate, Kais Saied, was elected president in 2019. His image as a “clean”, “uncorrupted” law professor has won over voters – especially young people – unhappy with the political elites. .

Over the past year, Covid-19 has exacerbated political and economic unrest in Tunisia and shattered the country’s health system. On July 25, Saied invoked an emergency article of the constitution: to remove the government, suspend parliament and assume all executive powers. While the move was hugely popular, critics called it a “coup” and many fear it could open a darker new chapter in the region’s latest democracy.

LEADER: President Kais Saied

ECONOMY: GNI per capita $ 3,100 (Algeria $ 3,550; France $ 42,330).

Monetary union: Tunisian Dinar

Main exports: Insulated yarns, textiles, crude oil, pure olive oil.

Tunisia’s trade balance is structurally negative and the country imports ($ 21.6 billion) more than it exports ($ 14.9 billion). The main trading partners are France, Italy, Germany, China and Algeria.

POPULATION: 11.8 million. Annual population growth rate: 0.75%. Persons per km² 73 (United Kingdom 281).

HEALTH: Under-5 mortality rate 17 per 1,000 live births (Algeria 18.9). HIV prevalence: less than 1%. The Tunisian health system was already under strain due to underfunding and the large working-age population.

ENVIRONMENT: CO per capita2 emissions: 2.59 metric tonnes. Disposal of toxic and hazardous waste has proven ineffective, while water pollution from raw sewage and factory waste continues to be a problem. Tunisia has limited natural freshwater and has suffered from soil erosion and desertification.

RELIGION: 99% Sunni Muslim. Until the 20th century, there were also significant Jewish and Christian populations.

TONGUE: Arabic (official), French (trade language with Arabic, and spoken by about two-thirds of the population).

INDEX OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: 0.739, 95th out of 189 countries (Algeria 0.748; France 0.901).

The desert in Gabès

The desert in Gabès. CLÉMENT ARBIB


There is a persistent economic divide between the wealthy Tunisian coastal elites and the poorer inland cities. More than 40% of Tunisians work in the informal economy without access to a stable income, social security or compensation linked to the pandemic. 15.2% of the population lives below the poverty line.


Tunisia has a high literacy rate (79%) which continues to improve every year. After independence, President Borguiba made education a priority with an emphasis on modernizing the system. Education was free and compulsory for all.


77 years old (France 83, Algeria 77).


Tunisia is ahead of other North African countries in the fight against gender inequalities. Bourguiba introduced new reforms in the 1950s, banning polygamy and giving women the right to divorce. In 1973, birth control and abortion were legal – before France. But culturally, Tunisian women still face many obstacles.


Since 2011, Tunisia has experienced a transformation in terms of freedom of speech and expression. However, there have been recent arrests for social media posts criticizing the military and for blasphemy. Traces of the pre-2011 police state also remain, and some officers continue to torture and harass detainees.


Homosexuality remains criminal (according to an old colonial law) and there have been several cases of forced anal exams. Police regularly harass, target and detain LGBTQI + people. Tunisian trans people are particularly at risk.


Corruption became commonplace after Ben Ali’s marriage to Leïla Trabelsi, which ushered in a new era of mafia rule with power centered around Trabelsi’s brothers. The family stole billions of dollars from Tunisia over the next decade. After 2011, governments searched but struggled to tackle persistent corruption. The recent dismissal of the government by Kais Saied has been called a coup.

Cover of New Internationalist Magazine Issue 534

This article is taken from the November-December 2021 issue of New Internationalist.
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Amplifying the missing voices in the fight for climate justice Thu, 11 Nov 2021 12:53:49 +0000

In depth: The COP26 Coalition hosted an alternative summit to amplify the voices, ideas and solutions that it believes are largely missing from the COP – including the new global green deal, polluter accountability and indigenous ecological knowledge .

The annual Glasgow climate conference may be getting a lot of attention this year, but its publicity is not at all good.

Waves of protests around the event amplified the message that world leaders are not doing enough, despite big promises, and demanding more ambition in national commitments and strategies. One side of this message is a civil society movement called the COP26 Coalition.

The movement is hosting an alternative summit that amplifies the voices, ideas and solutions that it says are largely absent from the COP, including the new global green deal, polluter accountability, indigenous ecological knowledge and the zero gap. net emission and real zero emission. .

The United Nations climate conference, known as COP26 this year, brings together officials from nearly 200 countries to discuss how best to tackle global warming. It has been held annually since 1995 and also serves to review the progress and implementation of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement, which saw a global commitment to keep warming between 1.5 ° C and 2 ° C. Alok Sharma from the UK government is chairing COP26, which runs from October 31 to November 13, which has been delayed for a year due to the pandemic.

“Numerous protests around the event amplified the message that world leaders are not doing enough, despite big promises.”

After more than a week of talks, agreements were reached to phase out coal over the next 30 years, reduce deforestation and reduce methane. While some have hailed these initiatives, others are calling them “bogus solutions” and “greenwashing”, notably famous young activist Greta Thunberg who has led protests calling for an end to “empty promises” and climate commitments. ” full of gaps “.

“Every day is a disappointment,” says Sapna Agarwal, a volunteer with the COP26 Coalition. “Every day we hear more and more about how the process itself is increasingly liberalized.”

The Kyoto Protocol concluded binding legal agreements while the Paris Agreement was defined by commitments due to be revised this year. She says some of them have gone in the wrong direction with no accountability built into the system.

“It seems the greater the urgency, the less action there is,” she said.

The People‘s Summit started on November 7 and ended on November 10, 2021. It involved around 235 events and workshops held online or in person at the Scotland site.

Sessions ranged from general actions, such as implementing zero waste, local and sustainable solutions, climate justice as racial justice and uprooting the drivers of deforestation, to direct actions such as prosecution. big oil companies like Shell or the management of confrontations like the police. .

Specific issues are also addressed, such as the role of surveillance in climate change and the revolution of social ecology in Kurdistan. And the focus is on global perspectives, including those of the Middle East and North Africa.

“The grassroots movement can move the Overton window and change the conversations that take place in higher places. It is therefore worth it ”

South London-based Choked Up, run by black and brown teenagers, is one of the groups that ran a workshop at the People’s Summit. Their “hacked road signs” highlighting air pollution received national media coverage this year as part of a campaign to repeat that “people of color are disproportionately exposed to air. toxic and poisoned “.

Co-founders Anjali Raman-Middleton, 18, and Nyeleti Brauer-Maxaeia, 17, said The New Arabic that the workshop, organized as part of the social justice training group Advocacy Academy, discusses their Choked Up campaign, the broader issues surrounding climate change and how to get involved in activism.

Artists paint a mural on a wall next to the Clydeside Expressway, near the Scottish Events Center (SEC), which hosted the UN’s COP26 climate summit. [Getty]

The campaign, which they launched after air pollution was recognized as a contributing factor in the death of teenager Ella Adoo-Kissi Debrah, sparked a conversation about air pollution at the London municipal elections are approaching, Raman-Middleton said.

“As a result of this action, we were also able to ask questions, in particular about clean air and air quality during some of the town hall debates, and organize electoral campaigns, in particular by making people talk. people about their clean air policies, which they wouldn’t do otherwise. were toasted, ”she says.

The main goal of the People’s Summit was for grassroots activists and people with conversations about climate justice to have those conversations outside of their existing circle, Agarwal said. The process facilitated the exchange of information on each other’s struggles, experiences gained and genuine solutions of early adopters to the climate crisis.

“The grassroots movement can move the Overton window and change the conversations that take place in higher places. So it’s worth it,” she said. The New Arabic.

“Critics said this year, the conference’s structural set-up has excluded large and vulnerable communities more than any other year.”

“It has been really interesting to be here, to be involved in more of the field campaigns, and to see the number of people showing up and just the feeling of disconnect between what seem to be closed-door conversations and not. not really recognize the people who are really here and what we demand is action now, ”Brauer-Maxaeia said.

Civil society groups often attend the main annual climate conference with space for events and exhibits set up in the green zone, open to the general public, and the blue zone for UN accredited parties.

However, critics said this year, the conference’s structural set-up excluded large and vulnerable communities more than any other year. This exclusion occurred due to “global vaccine apartheid” as richer countries had better access to the Covid-19 vaccine, a barrier to travel from some countries. High travel and accommodation costs are also a factor, as is the difficult UK visa application process that many activists attribute to UK harsh environment policy.

“All of this combined has prevented thousands of activists and key organizations from all over the world, including North Africa, from coming,” said Hamza Hamouchene, an Algerian researcher and activist who spoke at the event. a session of the People’s Summit entitled ‘Reflections on the just transition (s) in North Africa’.

Hamouchene, who has participated in several climate conferences, is very critical of current statements and argues that there must be a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions by stopping the expansion of extraction and production. of fossil fuels, namely oil and gas.

“Some of the region’s fossil fuel economies, such as Algeria and Libya, will be hit hard if Europe drastically reduces its fossil fuel imports from the region over the next decades. Therefore, serious discussion and public debate must take place to reflect on the necessary transition. to renewable energies while phasing out fossil fuels, ”he said, adding that this cannot be disconnected from issues of democratization and popular sovereignty over land, water and other natural resources.

“In kleptocratic military dictatorships like Algeria and Egypt, how can people decide and shape their future without first demilitarizing and democratizing their countries and societies? he asks.

Hamouchene cites various examples in North Africa, where, according to him, undemocratic and exclusive governance of the transition to renewable energies persists.

The Ouarzazate solar power plant in Morocco launched in 2016, for example, did not justify the appropriation of land by Amazigh agro-pastoral communities to install the facility of more than 3,000 hectares, he said. In addition, funding by various international institutions is also supported by guarantees from the Moroccan government which increase the country’s already burdened public debt and the thermal energy source (CSP) of the project requires intensive use of water to cool and clean the panels.

“In a semi-arid region like Ouarzazate, diverting the use of water from consumption and agriculture is simply outrageous,” says Hamouchene.

Similar harmful projects are taking place elsewhere which he calls “green grabbing”, but asserts that renewable projects in the occupied territories of Western Sahara can be qualified as “green colonialism” because they are carried out in spite of the Sahrawis.

“In kleptocratic military dictatorships like Algeria and Egypt, how can people decide and shape their future without first demilitarizing and democratizing their countries and societies?

One of the big topics of discussion this year was also the issue of climate finance and how to help less wealthy countries develop their green economies while suffering the adverse effects of climate change caused by large economies.

The activists demanded reparations and “took this account completely away from this idea of ​​foreign aid,” Agarwal explains.

Hamouchene also cautions against the corporatist nature of buying industry-touted solutions.

“Carbon trading gives many people the impression that climate change could be addressed without structural change,” he says. “We must recognize that market mechanisms will not sufficiently reduce global emissions.”

Sophia Akram is a researcher and communications professional with a particular interest in human rights, particularly in the Middle East.

Follow her on Twitter: @mssophiaakram

Kabylia facing the Algerian colonial regime Sun, 07 Nov 2021 07:00:00 +0000

Kabylia is inhabited by a people of peace who aspire to free themselves from any form of colonialism, they fight peacefully for their freedoms and their autonomy in order to build a modern and free nation.

Kabyle activists are subject to arbitrary arrests and detentions on a daily basis. Their freedom of movement is restricted and the militants are forced to live in hiding and exile, the Kabyle Christians are also prosecuted and their churches closed.

The Kabyle people want human rights NGOs to take due account of their political aspirations, and to support them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the specific circumstances of the Kabyle territories.

The scorched earth policy, gigantic, very destructive and murderous, is still applied every summer season in Kabylia. The appalling resurgence of forest fires which devastated, in August 2021 in a few days, hundreds of hectares, including families died and others totally ruined, sowing panic in several Kabyle villages.

The Algerian political context, where it is again in the grip of destructive lightning, means that not all fires are fought in Kabylia: some of them are listed under the heading “INA”, that is to say non-intervention authorized.

The identification of the immediate causes, they are likely to remain of little weight vis-a-vis the underlying factors which are the political problems, even if it is close to Algiers, Kabylia is indeed the only region where the Berber culture, in particular the Kabyle language has been maintained, despite the policy of Arabization and Islamization carried out by the government since the independence of Algeria in 1962, without forgetting the abuses, the usurpation and the destruction of Kabyle values.

On the basis of United Nations resolution 1514 adopted unanimously in December 1960, the Kabyle people have the legitimate right to assert their self-determination, to choose their own political status and to free themselves from any forced domination.

Clear Arabs from “Dune” – Inkstick Mon, 01 Nov 2021 10:45:11 +0000

First of all, let me say that I love “Dune”.

I have read Frank Herbert’s books several times over the past 30 years. I first read “Dune” along with “The Prize” by Daniel Yergin, the most comprehensive real-world historical account of the political economy of petroleum. These are books that shaped me and led me to my current career as a security and energy specialist. They have also influenced my work as an author of fiction and games. I even had the honor of writing for the role-playing game “Dune” with many other accomplished game writers. My academic and professional background, as well as my Palestinian-Algerian heritage, have been assets for the work and noted by some publications in the gaming industry. My inclusion has enriched the game and was well received by the community, not as a sensitive reader, but as an author and creator.

Needless to say, I was very excited to see the new adaptation of the movie “Dune” despite having near zero representation of the Middle East or North Africa (MENA) in it. screen or behind the scenes. I was not disappointed with the film itself. It was beautiful and well-crafted, with booming music, political intrigue, and epic wide-shots on a scale that brought many other sci-fi franchises to shame. Without reservation, I recommend people to watch this movie in the loudest and largest theater it is safe to attend.

The sophisticated visualization of the novel’s often impenetrable characters shows that director Denis Villeneuve and his team know their predominantly American audiences are often immune to subtlety and subtext. But by erasing the Arabs from “Dune,” they threaten to undo all that hard work by undermining the anti-colonial message at the heart of the story.

– Stilgar: “You are strangers. You come here for the spice, you take it without giving anything back.

– Paul: “It’s true.”

“Dune” is Arab and Muslim and Middle Eastern to his bones.

Clearly inspired by the culture of the Amazigh peoples of Algeria and Morocco, even taking their name from their language, the Fremen are only a small part of the deep MENA roots of the “Dune” universe. The whole framework uses Islamic concepts and several Arabic sayings are common throughout the Imperium. The Quran is referenced as one of the basic religious settings texts and even European coded characters, such as Gurney Halleck (played by Josh Brolin), are considered religious. In the book and film he repeatedly cites this quasi-Islamic / Christian writing and the Islamic concept of a Mahdi or religious savior is universally sown by the Bene Gesserit. Herbert himself has often referred to how Islam and Arab culture influenced his work, and Spice is a not-so-subtle petroleum substitute. The occupation of Iraq for oil turns into the occupation of Arrakis to control Spice by changing just a few vowels.

In fact, one of the most famous lines of the 1984 film adaptation is Paul’s rallying cry “Long live the fighters!” In the book, it is heard in the Arabic-inspired language of the Fremen of Chakobsa as “YA HYA CHOUHADA”. The expression comes directly from the Algerian war of independence against the French. Only a few years before the publication of the first book “Dune”, Arab and Amazigh freedom fighters returned from exile to Algiers, having won their freedom after 130 years of brutal occupation. Several newspapers reported that Algerian leaders were greeted in the streets with deafening chant, which is more correctly translated as “long live the martyrs” in Arabic. Herbert clearly took note of it and included it in his book.

Although the recent adaptation of “Dune” is a deeply American film, as an Algerian, I find something very French in the fact that the director Denis Villeneuve makes a film imbued with our culture and our images but devoid of ‘Arabs. Maybe Rami Malek was too busy on the Bond film for a cameo? That there is no Arab in this film with a speaking role seems almost unreal, but not if it is understood as a conscious decision.

Lady Jessica: “These people have been waiting for the Lisan al-Gaib for centuries. They see you, they see the signs.

– Paul: “They see what they have been told to see.”

Arabs are political.

We don’t choose to be political, but our existence is troubling in white-controlled media and entertainment. Instead of reckoning with decades of exploitation, colonization and militarization of the Middle East by Western powers, it is easier to make us bad guys – fanatics with unreasonable demands and a strange religion.

In “Dune”, despite much of the setting steeped in our culture, Arabs cannot be heroes, so we have to be erased. Arabic has become such an easy shortcut for villains in film, that even a “visionary director” couldn’t imagine us as anything more.

Arabic has become such an easy shortcut for villains in film, that even a “visionary director” couldn’t imagine us as anything more.

As for the other people of color in the film largely casting (spoiler alert), they almost all die for the benefit of Paul and his mother. Duncan Idaho. Dr Yueh. Shadout Mapes. Liet Kynes. Never. Multicultural pawns sacrificed for the queen and her son, the future king. Strangely, this fits very well with the intention of the author of Frank Herbert. The Atreides are colonizers at heart. Despite their more courteous and civilized demeanor, they are really no different from their Harkonnen cousins. Just as the spice is a resource that the Atreids wish to exploit, so too are the Fremen. Power, wealth and control prevail over all considerations of respect and freedom for the colonizer. The only significant difference between Harkonnen and Atreides is that the latter also wants to control how they are viewed. They wish to plunder, but they also wish to be loved. We see it today when the occupier demands gratitude from those he occupies, claiming that he is bringing education or human rights to dark lands when whatever he wants, c ‘is more power.

– Baron Harkonnen: “Arrakis is Arrakis, and the desert takes the weak. My Desert. My Arrakis. My Dune.

Why is this important?

After all, Javier Bardem may be one of my favorite actors and I’m sure he will play an outstanding Stilgar in the sequel to “Dune”. And maybe Denis will read this essay and choose one or two Arabs in speaking roles. Oscar winner Rami Malek would make an excellent Feyd-Rautha, not to mention F. Murray Abraham who would kill him as emperor. Perhaps Tahar Rahim, nominated for BAFTAs and Golden Globes as Fedaykin Otheym. With a second and possibly a third film on the way, there’s plenty of room to cast these incredible actors and, more importantly, hire Arabs and MENA people behind the screen. An Arabic speaker in the writing room or on set would likely have avoided many of the mangled lines of Arabic that made it into the final product, let alone enriching the film as a whole. So why even bother to mention that the Arabs were erased from the first installment?

As I mentioned earlier, critical media analysis is not a valued skill in much of America. It is not a bug, but a characteristic of our culture. In the United States, reading between the lines, disentangling nuances, or finding the deepest meaning in the media is seen as snobbish and hypocritical. This is something the filmmakers seem to understand given their efforts to translate “Dune” from dense cerebral text into an emotional and visual experience.

But this lack of understanding of the subtext means that we are vulnerable to reactionary and backward elements in our society. Right-wing fascists and libertarians in America mistakenly interpret satire and criticism as sincerity with almost comical regularity. Even “Dune” has followers among fascists today, despite the property’s message of colonial evil and the uplifting tale of how charismatic rulers often lead their followers to disaster in pursuit of their own glory. For these fascists, they consider the depictions of conquering tyrants and galactic genocide to be not only good, but necessary for their supremacist ideals. They don’t want Arabs or any other person of color in their “Dune,” although their limited inclusion as sacrificial pawns would likely be seen as a positive for them. Withdrawing the Arabs from “Dune” presents the fascists with a straightforward narrative, which caters to their preferences rather than outright rejecting them.

The difficult questions of how to admire “Dune” on screen when there are no Arabs in his Arab images cannot be ignored. Without the Arabs, the Arabity of the film becomes just another stolen resource to enrich the coded noble houses in Europe. Instead of a critique of the damage done to humanity and our environment by rapacious colonialists hungry for power and hegemony, history is more easily overthrown and co-opted by the very forces it was meant to shame and shame. charge.

Khaldoun Khelil is an energy and international security specialist at the Middle East Institute. He writes fiction and games as a hobby.

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