Algeria: Tebboune Accuses Hirak of 'Terrorism' as Pressure Mounts


Algeria: Tebboune Accuses Hirak of 'Terrorism' as Pressure Mounts
Following an appearance on Algerian television on Sunday, Tebboune took a combative tone to Algeria’s Hirak protest movement on Tuesday, April 6. Photo: Mohammed Salah Eddine Bourega.

Rabat – Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has stated that some Hirak activity can be “referred to as terrorism” as pressure mounts on the ruling elites. 

Another mass outpouring of disenchanted citizens on the streets on Tuesday appears to have struck a nerve with Algeria’s unpopular president. Following an appearance on Algerian television on Sunday, Tebboune took a combative tone to Algeria’s Hirak protest movement on Tuesday, April 6.

Pressure on Algeria’s ruling elite has been mounting in recent weeks as the reemergence of the Hirak (“movement” in Arabic) following a COVID-19 induced hibernation is stirring the country’s upper ranks. President Tebboune has attempted to alleviate some of this pressure in a televised interview. 

Televised blunder

The 70-minute exchange with Algerian journalists did not go over well, however, as Tebboune neglected to mention the Hirak protests and its grievances. The Hirak’s demands for a complete overhaul of Algeria’s government and the large structural issues plaguing citizens were not topics of discussion.

Instead, President Tebboune spoke at length about Algeria’s perceived foreign threats using “diversionary foreign policy”. The head of state did not address the concerns of the Hirak protests regarding declining living standards, democratic representation, and the people’s rejection of upcoming elections.

President Tebboune’s attempt at “damage control” clearly did not impress Algeria’s protest movement as another outpouring of Hirak demonstrations occurred on Tuesday, April 6. 

Hirak ‘Terrorism’

On the same day, Tebboune chaired a meeting of Algeria’s Supreme Security Council, where the topic of the Hirak did arise. Tebboune claimed that the elements among the Hirak demonstrations were “instigating actions” and “dangerous deviations,” describing part of the movement as “separatist.” 

Tebboune claimed that elements within the Hirak constitute “separatist circles and illegal movements close to terrorism, who manipulate the weekly demonstrations.” Algeria’s president announced that the state would be “uncompromising in the face of these divergences,” in a statement following the council’s conclusion.

State actors in Algeria have recently stepped up efforts to paint the Hirak protests as a threat, going as far as claiming Morocco is fueling or even directing the protest movement.

On social media pro-Polisario accounts have taken up the mantra that the mass protest movement is neither democratic nor Algerian in origin. 

Accounts commonly supporting Polisario have recently started describing the Hirak as a “framework to attack Algeria,” claiming the popular movement is part of a plot from Morocco’s royal palace.

Pressure is clearly mounting as supporters of Algeria’s regime reveal increasingly desperate attempts to paint the demands of Algeria’s citizenry as foreign plots aimed at undermining the country.



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