Freedom of the press in Algeria


Writing in the Arab world can be a dangerous occupation.  The Algerian author and commentator Kamel Daoud was hit by a death threat or ‘fatwa’ by a fundamentalist preacher in his country in 2015.

In Algeria, there have been real strides in recent years in freedom of the press.  However, what has happened to Kamel Daoud is a warning that all is still not well.  His reply to this threat is both brave and articulate and goes to the heart of the toxic nature of Islamic fundamentalism. I am indebted to the blogger  Arun with a View for the original French text and have translated some extracts into English.  I am including this in my blog about Algeria and its history as Kamel wrote a best-selling novel about the murder of an Algerian Arab during the French colonial era,  the Mersault Investigation.

Here’s a fascinating question. Why is it that some people feel that their identity, their religious beliefs, their understanding of history and their recollection of the past are threatened as soon as someone thinks differently to them? Is it that the fear of being in the wrong drives them to enforce unanimity and fight Difference? Is it due to the fragility of their deeply held beliefs? Is it because hatred of oneself is shown through hatred of others? Is it because of a history of failure, frustration, and of unrequited love? Or because of the fall of Grenada? Or because of colonialism? The question goes round and round.

But here’s a strange thing. Those who defend Islam as a unique system of belief often do so with hatred and violence. Those who feel and consider themselves Arabs by birth have a tendency to do this with fanaticism rather than with a joyfulness of spirit leading to fruitfulness. Those who speak of national values, of nationalism and religion, are often aggressive, violent, hateful, dull, unappealing, and short-sighted. They only see the world in terms of attacks, conspiracies, and the manipulation and tricks of the West…

They focus on the North that crushes, fascinates them, making them green with jealousy. They turn their backs on Africa where people can die for all they care. God has created them and the West like a married couple; the rest of the world doesn’t count. There are sheikhs and fatwas ready to condemn every woman who dares to wear a skirt. But there is not one sheikh who wants to feed the hungry in Somali…

Why do these people react like businessmen denied what they are owed or pimps? Why do they feel so threatened by what others say? It’s strange.   Is it because the fanatic is incapable of seeing what is right under his nose? A week country, an impoverished and ruined Arab world, a religion reduced to ritual and death-crazed fatwas…

Anyway, let’s see the effects. Denying reality, dirty streets, hideous buildings, the dinar on its knees, a sickly president, a dozen migrants killed on a bus while returning home, dependence on oil and preaching, and a terrible level of educational. achievement.

owqguhcqpqokxqu-400x400-nopadI think it’s fair to say that every religion has its fair share of fruitcakes and fundamentalists who feel uncomfortable with Difference.  Jesus had to deal with them in the form of the Pharisees, who didn’t like his generosity of spirit to women, criminals and prostitutes.  The Prophet Mohammed, a man of great compassion and kindness, had similar struggles in his early days.  The Catholic Chuch of which I am a member has also persecuted its enemies in the past.

I believe that God wants us to be bigger than all this and behave like the adults we are, and be quicker to listen and understand the views of others than to condemn.

You can see the original text at:




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