Monday, 21 April 2014

Intrigue at Sidi Fredj by Khaled Mandi - Book Review

When a taxieur picks up a fare, he doesn’t usually expect he’ll risk going to jail for it. When a taxieur whose last fare of the day forgot her bag in the car, and goes back to the address the next morning to return it to her, he definitely doesn’t expect to spend seven months in jail for it.

What sent Mourad, taxieur in Khaled Mandi’s detective novel, in El Harrach’s 7 Hectares jail was not his unsuspicious nature, it was the unpretentious belief he’d been struck by love at first sight by Farida as he drove her to her parents’ home. Farida, though, had been murdered 18 months previously, and had long been buried. 

While investigating a crime that wasn’t one, and a murder that never took place, Mourad discovers that Farida is in fact Ghislaine, a twin born in Algeria and stolen away by a gang trafficking babies just before Algeria’s independence.

Khaled Mandi tells this tale in Intrigue at Sidi Fredj in an Enid-Blyton-style that plays with both folklore on djinns and ghosts, and the reality of jail, inmates’ solidarity and a crushing Algerian justice system.

Should Mandi have closed the story after Mourad discovers a pre-independence child trafficking gang? Yup. So far so great despite the writing’s school-like style. But Mourad can't stop and rest, Mandi forces his character to continue hunting for his love at first sight, to avoid marrying his cousin. And this is when the story becomes the reenactment of a bizarre teenage wet dream. Mourad decides to work 2 years flat to buy enough foreign currency and a visa to France so he can find a (very) accommodating French girlfriend and move in her bed in the space of a 12 hour conversation on Christmas eve to marry her papers

Should Mandi have closed the story after Mourad comes back to Algeria with his new bride and finally marries her according to the 'proper' rites and a massive party to celebrate his catch? Yup. But Mandi continues with two anecdotes, one when Mourad is going to the local Imam because his French-but-Algerian wife doesn't want to fast, and another by Mandi's grandfather (why?) about life's scars and how they can save lives.

Should Mandi have closed the story after these two anecdotes that have nothing to do with why you picked up the book in the first place? Yup. But Mandi clearly loves writing and in the height of enjoyment he just can't stop. He continues on with a summary of his next novel's first and second part plus three axis quotes.

If you decide to read Intrigue at Sidi Fredj, do, it’s quite enjoyable, just stop of page 102.

Intrigue a Sidi Fredj is a book by Khaled Mandi published by Editions Mazola Communication in 2012, written in French. 160 pages.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

8 days left before Election Day - 8 bets to place

Only 8 days before Election day and a new president will be born from its ashes like the 100 year-old phoenix. The event is treated by people like the ghost of a village clown that everybody knows and ignores. An election, in theory and practice, is the time when power holders pretend to dialogue with people. Power holders don't fancy doing that here, possibly never have since independence, but hey, the media have got to make a living so they're doing the dialogue all among themselves. People, as per usual, are completely ignored, and they give it back so well. 

No matter, we can still have some fun and some British fun: bets! C'mon. Roll the dice.

9 April – How many public letters are in the mix?

Public letters from a variety of Algerian personalities abound these days in the press. Love mail. Hate mail. Especially content-poor mail. The spaghetti Western between Benouari and Hanoune continues in a face-off fashion. Ali Benouari’s latest challenge to Hanoune: you’ve got 10 days to write or… I’ll write back.

10 April – Who will Sellal insult next? 

It would seem that only his own person is left on the list.

11 April - Where is Algeria’s Texas?

Tlemcen was hailed as the capital of Islamic Culture in 2011. In 2015, Constantinawill be celebrated as the capital of Arab culture. Algiers will soon become a new Mecca with the Grand Mosque and its world tallest minaret, with an opening scheduled in 2015. Now, Mascara has been promised the sore fate of becoming Algeria’s California. When all the barrels are counted… where is Algeria’s Texas?

12 April - In which building entrance will Nekkaz get stuck in Bab el Oued?

The non-presidential candidate Rachid Nekkaz continues his travels around various cities and regions of Algeria taking selfies. His planned visit to Bab El Oued’s Atlas Hall area last Saturday was a lot more confined that he’d planned for. The interior of Bab El Oued’s Atlas Hall was booked for Bouteflika’s campaign director Abdelmalek Sellal. The exterior of Bab El Oued’s Atlas Hall was also booked... by Sellal’s police protection. This only left Nekkaz with a small spot in a building’s entrance facing the Hall. Undeterred, he promises to be back on Saturday 12 April, this time round, facing the sea.

13 April - Will the President be standing in another television appearance and for how long?

14 April - "Can you spot your leader"?

Almost two weeks since Brussels’ EU-African summit held on 2 and 3 April, and which counted Algeria as a member, at least on paper, to discuss the future of people's nations, or something. No one seems to care nationally. Internationally, BBC Africa seemed the most interested in engaging with people on this subject and asked "can you spot your DZ leader"? Well, can you?

15- Will Algeria's press publish photos of protests picturing other people than Barakat’s four members?

Protests and marches, small in number but large in spirit and media coverage, are likely to continue until 17 April but who gets photographed in these peaceful protests? Demos in Bejaia offer some fresh faces alledgedly committing crimes against public property. Photos of marches planned from 15 April might actually show people peacefully screaming their frustration.

16- After Barakat, and Barra, will a shorter protest movement’s name be born?

Barra (Out!) is a protest movement calling for demos in and from Paris. Will a four-letter movement follow?

17- Will bigger than XXL-size posters of the next President be printed and where will they be displayed?

XXL size posters of the current President have been hung on buildings around the country. How much bigger than these XXL size can the flanks of Algerian buildings take when the future President's turn come?

Post 17-April? 

Will post-17 April be like pre-17 April? A clear definition of what pre-17 April was would first need to be put down, perhaps even agreed upon, and this has not yet been done. The question remains what will post-17 April be like? But mostly. Who cares…

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Liamine Zeroual's letter to Algerians

Algeria's Former President hadn't spoken publicly in years.  On March 19, Victory Day in Algeria, he broke his silence and sent a letter to the country's media to express his views on the upcoming election, the country's current situation, the troubles brewing in the south, and other politicians' recent actions.  His letter appeared in El Watan 2014 and the following is its complete translation.

Former President of the Republic.

(Thursday 20 March 2014)

On Thursday 17 April 2014, voters are called upon to elect the President of the Republic. This is an election through which sovereign citizens will mandate the Republic’s next President to act in their name, for a period of five years. The presidential election has always constituted an important moment in the life of the nation and a major event in the nation’s future. For a candidate to the Head of Government this is an honour, but it is also a heavy and delicate responsibility, moral as much as physical. A responsibility which, to be honourably assumed, must be delimited by a certain number of conditions, essentially those the constitution prescribes on the one hand, and on the other those imposed by the protocol related to being in Office.

It is at the time of such an important electoral consultation, where objective conditions of transparency and freedom must accompany its progress, that the degree of the State’s social ties can be appreciated, and that respect can be earned from the international community. This is why citizen’s participation in crucial national decisions lends an invaluable source of legitimacy to the Republic’s institutions, and therefore constitutes the best immunity Algeria can use to meet the great challenges it faces in building the nation and confront the threats that lie in wait.

As the former President of the Republic, I have until now forbidden myself to intervene inopportunely in political affairs by obligation of impartiality, and I have abstained from interfering in the institutional affairs to respect republican ethics. That said, this impartial attitude has never prevented me from always being sensitive to the pulse of Algerian society nor from observing the evolution of national affairs with regular attention and particular interest. Today, the occurrence of a series of events and declarations, as multiple as they are unusual, and notably made on the eve of an important election, make me feel morally obligated to speak and share my feelings and fears with my Algerian fellow citizens.

What is happening today nationally cannot leave anyone indifferent and calls on the conscience of all Algerian citizens deeply attached to the independence of their country and conscious of the exorbitant cost of sacrifices given to recover it. We must remember also that only yesterday and for this same purpose again, Algeria had to pay heavy tribute to survive one of the most challenging times of its contemporary history; it miraculously came through this period thanks be given to God and to the strength of a nation who courageously and with great dignity mobilised itself. Today more than ever, the duty of remembrance must be the inexhaustible source that invariably inspires the Algerian people in their national quest to build a path towards the future.
In the name of this duty of remembrance, I would like here and again, to pay tribute to the nation’s might and to salute the prominent role it played notably taken on by the People’s National Army and the Security Forces to solve the grave national tragedy Algeria suffered. Despite the fierce hostility manifested against Algeria in its fight against terrorism, the People’s National Army and Security Services have known how to, and were able to, thwart every attempts to destabilise the country and succeeded in the hopeless prospect of sheltering Algeria from the great peril that threatened it and its very foundation. 

Unfortunately and very recently, the military institution was exposed to a regrettable diatribe whose only aim was to again weaken national defence and national security to open the door to the multiple dangers that lie in wait. But in this regard, the People’s National Army is perfectly competent to face such dangers, given the quality of its men who possess the patriotic qualities that enable them to fulfil their mission and to accomplish their duty at the exclusive service of the nation.

The People’s National Army, with all its components, remains before all at the nation’s service. All its officials, who since the independence of the nation have had to act in its name, remain guided before any other consideration by their duty to preserve the cohesion of its ranks, in the respect of the law and to reinforce its operational capacity to insure the protection of the nation. The People’s National Army’s internal cohesion and its popular essence both remain the real factors of its power.
The People’s National Army has contributed to consolidate stability and security, with the assistance of the Security Services and the decisive support of patriotic forces. It remains committed to this vital struggle because it is aware it represents the armed shield capable of opposing any attempt to harm Algeria, an Algeria that was resurrected by the glorious People’s National Army, or to harm its sovereignty and the integrity of its national territory.

Indeed, what is happening today nationally on the eve of such an important electoral date deserves the attention of all participants in the life of the nation and cannot be grossly eluded to profit certain approaches whose hidden intentions do not necessarily benefit Algeria’s vital interests.  We must not underestimate the current situation and think that financial windfall can, alone, overcome a trust-driven structural crisis. Even if founded, the show of statistics and assessments given to a drained national opinion will not convince its exacerbated scepticism, nor will it contain people’s effervescence now seen on the national political scene. An effervescence that has no other legitimate ambition than to bring its own contribution to building a new political order loyal to the spirit of the declaration of 1st November 1954 and in harmony with the universal standards consecrated therein, all the while preserving our values and specificities.

The 2008 revision of the Algerian constitution, especially the amendment of article 74 relative to limiting presidential terms to two, has profoundly altered the quality of the leap needed for an alternation in power, and the national recovery process has been deprived from conquering new ground on the way towards democracy. It is of the utmost importance to remember that the vocation of an alternation in power is to consolidate intergenerational solidarity, to comfort national cohesion and to institute the structural bases of durable stability. Alternation in power also has for vocation to fortify democracy and gives credibility to the Republic’s institutions which constitute its most precious expression. Lastly, alternation in power has for final aim to ensure the best conditions for the emergence of a modern State, with no major clashes.

The history of this world’s great democracies teaches us that a strong State is always inseparable from a counter-power just as strong. This same history also teaches us that the principles of transparency in the administration of public affairs, in the management of the country’s resources and in the exercise of individual and collective liberties constitute a powerful guarantee of good governance and permits an effective fight against all forms of abuse and corruption, under the irrefutable authority of the rule of law and the fairness of justice. 

In this respect, we must strongly underline to all those who still have doubts as to the nation’s spirit that the Algerian people know how to distinguish the essential from the accessory, and also know how to freely lend their legendary endurance when it is put at the service of a great national cause. A cause that carries the participative support of a people is a cause that has been heard and has already won.

This is why the next presidential term must form part of a greater national plan and offer the historical opportunity to work towards uniting favourable conditions towards national consensus on a shared vision of Algeria’s future; a vision shared by the principal participants in the life of the nation, and must necessarily be crowned, ultimately, by the Algerian people’s sovereign consent. This transitional mandate will constitute the next serious stage in a worthy leap towards an Algerian renewal that better conforms to the legitimate aspirations of post-independence generations in harmony with the great changes the world knows. It is time to offer Algeria the Republic it has the right to demand from its people and from its enlightened elite.

In this context, we must remind objectively that the right to vote constitutes the most peaceful constitutional way citizens can use to make their voices heard. It is also a national duty to express one’s choice and to participate in this manner, via elected representatives, in the process of forming a national decision. This is why the voice expressed by a citizen must hold special value in the democratic construction of an Algerian political system, and whose invaluable scope we must avoid belittling. It is through the voice expressed by citizens that tomorrow’s Algeria will be built. If Algerian citizens have a duty to make their voices heard before the highest national instances, it falls to the State to offer the best conditions of transparency and freedom so that this choice can rigorously be respected and taken into account. It is in this way that trust finds its root and perpetuates democratic practices.

It is in this spirit that we must consider that the constitution, national cohesion and the unity of the Republic’s armed forces constitute the pillars that bear Algeria and the precious common heritage Algerians have a duty to preserve and to defend, whatever the level and the nature of sacrifices to be made. 

Independently from the election results on 17 April, we will especially have to remember that the next presidential mandate represents a last chance to engage Algeria on the road to a real transition. All objective participants, under the seal of urgency in all serenity and in a peaceful manner, advocate that the great works for building this nation be started and its realisation must involve every Algerian. Indeed, we have to avoid believing that the greatness of the national future can come from the willpower of only one man whether or not he is providential, or from the unique force of a political party whether or not it represents the majority. The greatness of the nation’s future is intimately linked to the greatness of the people and of their capacity to constantly work toward conquering new democratic ground. In this, our country is undeniably rich in potential and capacity that could enable it to go forth towards new conquests. Throughout their history, the Algerian people have always showed they are, strengthened by their unity, capable of overcoming the greatest challenges.

Long live Algeria.

Glory and Eternity to our Valourous Shuhada.

Translated by Nadia Ghanem.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Illustrating Investigative Journalism in Algeria

A collective article on reported frauds in the collect of signatures to support wannabe presidential candidates was published in El Watan 2014 (in French) a few days ago. Here is a translation of it. This is, perhaps, a typical example of investigative journalism in Algeria.

Fraud has already begun*

How has it been possible to collect 4 million signatures in less than eight days in favour of the incumbent president, enabling the (now) candidate Bouteflika to submit his file to the Constitutional Council?

Hacked civil registers, antedated forms and blackmail. The evidence gathered in Algiers and reported from within different regions of the country is similar: the collect of signatures in favour of Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been flawed. Knowing that the administration requires the presence of each citizen who wishes to give his signature, we could have seen queues of 800 individuals per day for 5 days in each APC (Popular Communal Assembly), many candidates say. « We were under pressure », explains an elected FLN member of west-Algiers. « The party headquarters gave us 48 hours to gather signatures, and any way used to find a maximum of them was good enough, including by drawing on the lists of young beneficiaries to the program White Algeria (an employment program for cleanliness and the environment, editor’s note) ». Another elected member continues: « the staff of state companies has also been mobilised to fill in these forms. But inside the country, it’s worse, there has been no limit. Anyway, we must not focus on the FLN. The RND and the TAJ parties have used the same ways. In my opinion, the collect is so irregular that at least 40% of the 4 million signatures should be invalidated by the Constitutional Council. »

In early February, El Watan 2014 revealed that in Mascara FLN militants filled in forms without marking the date, against procedure requirements. Other methods used: blackmail. Several employees of Air Algérie have disclosed they have been pressured to sign. People in pre-employment situations in many sectors, as in Bouira (see below), were subject to the same treatment by their hierarchy. According to the General Mohand Tahar Yala, executives working at Algiers’ airport received a phonecall from the Minister of Transport before the candidacy announcement, said to have instructed them to make all staff sign forms in favour of the incumbent President. « If tricks have always existed, today we no longer take the trouble to hide them » he adds. After the candidacy’s announcement, Sonatrach employees were also put under pressure by UGTA executives and officials. « We received statements from witnesses according to whom some employees were promised an advance bonus payment, (a bonus) supposed to be paid a few months later », reports Soufiane Djilali. « The same scenario was repeated at CNES and at Sonelgaz. In APCs, administrative officers even locked themselves up in their offices to fill in forms based on civil registration records. But us, we struggled to collect our signatures... »

To be certain that as many signatures as possible would be gathered, small parties, the pouvoir’s relay, « even went to slums », says an elected member. « They demanded that the inhabitants who had applied for AADL housing sign or they would write them off the lists. » Mohamed Chérif Taleb, an unfortunate candidate of the PNSD, summed up the situation when he announced his withdrawal: « The unhealthy games of dirty money and the behaviour of certain zealous civil servants in favour of a given candidate have had a negative impact on the party’s results. » Ramdane Youssef Tazibt, a Working Party (PT) deputy, who notes that his party collected 111 078 signatures in four weeks, knows how hard the pursuit is. « We denounced the actions of certain parties (see Louisa Hanoune’s caption below) who did everything they could to collect fake signatures using electoral registers unbeknown to the individuals concerned », he stresses. « We know the single-party’s methods. But some civil servants resisted, refused these practices and they were able to stop this tide. » Unsurprised, the president of the National Commission for the Supervision of the Presidential Elections, Brahmi Lachemi, stated yesterday that the commission had been seized for « no cases of excesses » linked to the collect of signatures. « If excesses turn out to be true, the appropriate prosecutor will in his turn be consulted and will decide on how to proceed », he added.

Adlène Meddi and Fériel Kolli

Ali Benflis denounces the situation: Algerians must know that in several APCs, people have used civil registration records to fill in forms unbeknown to the individuals concerned, their names appear on these documents." (Photo : M. Salim)

BOUIRA : “You sign or we do not renew your contract!” According to the declarations of certain people and even that of elected members close to the FLN, civil registration records have been used by several APCs allegiant to the FLN to fill in forms at the mouhafhadha of Bouira. Officially, members of the wilaya of Bouira’s coordination in support of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, presided by Ali Drafli, deny having placed civil registration records at their disposal. « We mobilised several unions, cultural and student societies for the collect of signatures », he states, specifying that the coordination collected some 4200 signatures from all four corners of the wilaya. Another member of this coordination, visibly embarrassed by our questions, stated that these forms were signed in four days only. Another number was also communicated by the members of the Taj party in Bouira, that of 13000 signatures. This number does not include all the signatures collected by the different political organisations around the TAJ party Amar Ghoul. The process is simple, some members of the opposition and especially supporters of Ali Benflis say. « Apart from the APCs of the Berber-speaking regions and those managed by opposition parties, they have exploited civil registers to fill in forms in favour of Bouteflika » states a member of the bureau supporting Ali Benflis.

An official of Sour El Ghozlane’s APC, a feudum of the FLN party who was contacted, gave the exact number of support forms made in favour of the President-candidate. According to him, 1814 signatures were recorded against 80 for the candidate Ali Benflis. Our source says, now, civil registration records are « computerised ». Amina, in pre-employment in a wilaya’s directing office, says that she unwillingly filled a form in favour of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in return for the renewal of her employment contract. « The head of department is an elected member of the RND party. He told us to fill in these forms and to make other members of our families sign so we could have our contracts renewed. Personally, I had no choice. I signed. And I am waiting for the end of my employment contract, towards the end of May, to renew it. » Another civil servant testifies that the elected members of parties in power who work in administrations targeted women much more. « I have been witness to sickening scenes. With a pack of forms in hand, they approached women cleaners to force them to give their identity cards and sign the forms », he recounts. In Bouira, the number of support forms in Bouteflika’s favour didn’t go over 30 000.

Amar Fedjkhi

Louisa Hanoune : The courtiers, the clients who look to find themselves a position, those who are looking to maintain the status quo have begun to tamper (with the situation). They are breaking the law that administers the collect of signatures. Citizens are not even aware of these incidents." (Photo : B. Souhil)

CHLEF : The blank-form waltz

In Chlef, it is a secret for no one: the collect of signatures in favour of Bouteflika’s candidacy was a mere formality, as the wilaya’s elected assemblies and state companies are largely dominated by those who support the 4th mandate, that is the FLN, RND, MPA and the UGTA. But supporters of Benflis’ candidacy denounce the way in which this operation was carried out. « Even before the announcement of Bouteflika’s candidacy, we caught an elected member of the APC in Chlef signing a pack of blank forms at the civil registry counter. This example is unfortunately not an isolated case. These practices have been reported a little bit everywhere in the wilaya. The forms in question, according to witnesses, have been circulated in state owned-company buses managed by the Minister of Transport directed by... the president of the TAJ party », notes Hamid Kouadri-Samet, director of the campaign for Benflis’s candidacy in Chlef. While, he says, articles 139 and 140 of the electoral code stipulate clearly that « signatures are recorded on a separate form and legalized » and that « using places of worship, public institutions and administrations, and any education institutions or training centres, whatever their nature, for the collect of voters’ signatures is forbidden ».

Ahmed Yechkour

MASCARA : Forms are filled... twice!

According to first-hand witnesses, the process for the collect of signatures in favour of the president-candidate Abdelaziz Bouteflika occurred twice in the wilaya of Mascara! The first time occurred on 4 February, that is, even before the incumbent president announced his candidacy. Elected members of the FLN and RND party were called to fill in elected members’ individual signatures support forms. The second time, led by the FLN, occurred after the announcement of Bouteflika’s candidacy by his Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, on 22 Febuary from Wahran. Some elected members of the former single-party with whom we talked, confided having themselves filled in the forms. « The day after Bouteflika’s candidacy was announced, we were called to fill in and sign again other elected members’ individual signatures support forms and to put them back in the right place », an elected member of the FLN party told us on 5 March. Another elected member from a small commune in the wilaya of Mascara questioned on the same subject, told us that during the first operation for the collect of signatures « on the first forms, all fields had been filled in apart from those related to the choice of candidate, the date and signature ».


FLN and RND militants opted for this process when they asked their elected members to not write the name of the candidate on the forms, because « they were not sure Bouteflika would be candidate and the system might choose another candidate ». But why two operations for the collect of signatures? According to our interlocutor, close to the inner circle of FLN decision-makers in Mascara, « the first operation for the collect of signatures was a strategy adopted by the party to prevent our members signing in Benflis’ favour. A tactic that enabled Saâdani’s supporters to cause a lot of problems to our opponents in the other camp ».

A. Souag

Translated by Nadia Ghanem

*The original article was published in French in El Watan 2014 on Friday 7 March.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

You like شعبي things...

Does language shape the structure of our reasoning, or do our (culturally-influenced) thoughts structure our language, are questions I have always found captivating. It’s a little like the chicken and the egg of linguistics. While I sit around feeling captivated, so have others before me all be it a lot more productively. Arab philosophers of the 8th to 10th century sat around among themselves too, but in assemblies of great minds to discuss the origin of language... a few centuries of bewildering mental activity before maqbul and makruh were pushed off the boat and 7lal and 7ram took over as the only subjects worth waking up for.

Whether language influences our thoughts or our thoughts influence our language, it is observable that we express our thoughts outloud according to a preset shape, along distinct terms of references, patterns of thoughts in essence, and we are predisposed to follow these.

Two blocks in an Algerian pattern I am learning to discern have been pointed to me: شعبي things and elite things. These two are part of one construction, a pyramidal world where one is set above (guess which) the other (guess which too), and looks beyond it. This division other than being anorexic (ever seen only two things on a what-constitutes-a-society menu?) is vertiginously vertical, Hydra Olympus standing over an El Harrach underworld with ignorant-devil overspill in ‘southern cities’. Ah, those southern cities hey. Among the many subjects debated in this binary manner are the events occurring in the south of Algeria, Ouargla of late. I was particularly struck by a recently published interview where an Algerian sociologist policy analyst anthropologist is studying human societies dwelling in southern Algeria working on explaining why people in Ouargla are still protesting even after they have been offered jobs, pay offs, and perhaps even cake. He comes to the conclusion that it’s because these protestors are Saharan nobles who don’t want to work in a job below their tribal social position, and so the government should offer them jobs that befit them, like… taxieur. What?

This binary world-view can strike anywhere with the most surreal results and no raising of eyebrows. Algeria is still often debated, nationally and internationally, in tribal terms, but what about leaving alone tribal, anthropology, researcher and researchee and start talking dignity.

What are the criteria that define ‘elite’ in Algeria I haven’t figured out yet, but I’m certain that western references for this term's definition don’t apply. What does elite do? Mostly, it calls itself… elite, you know you’ve met it/them because they'll tell you 'not like them'. What are their symbols? Not sure but they whisper a lot. Where does elite live? Up, above somewhere, wherever the where is 'not that place' and 'not down there'. So far, I’ve found that whatever’s elite, it is defined in the negative, notably and most especially, not-شعبي.

Logic dictates: find out what شعبي is to locate elite (then avoid elite…) 

So what is شعبي other than a music genre? شعبي  is a street, a 7ouma, it's like the guys on my street gathering to chitchat at the same hour, it’s the sunburnt vegetable seller on my building’s corner who roars out laughing at my abysmal maths skills, it’s the lines and lines of DIY kiosks spotlessly arranged by young boys who sell the latest movies and series on DVDs for cheap, it’s the lovers not even hidding on the corniche, it’s the kids who get bits of shopping for their mothers after school, it’s young women in colour-coordinated outfits impeccably made-up no matter the budget, it's restaurants with a ‘family area’ that serve m7ajib, it’s cafes playing El Guerouabi and Black Eye Peas, it’s the broken buses whose drivers always let you board mid-traffic and will never leave you alone in the street, it's....

I could go on for several pages and maybe I will in other posts but one thing's clear, whatever elite is going to turn out being, it's going to be colourless and unnatural, because it's core... is a negation.