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Cry for Algeria

It has been going on for some time now and many voices have come out to reveal the real nature and true facts of the tragic situation. News reports and commentaries add on to the intricacies surrounding the grisly and mysterious killings. Armed groups and gangs with beards and looking like Muslim fighters. The FIS has openly challenged and revealed the real perpetrators of such heinous crimes. Its recently released leader Professor Abbasi Madani asked that ever famous question "tell me who were killed and I will tell you who did it".An ex prime minister (during the FLN regime) has openly accused the Zeroual regime of posing as Muslim fighters in the massacres. Then there were the revelations by former regime security personnel who pleaded for asylum in Europe. Europe has even expressed doubts and made numerous innuendoes upon the present military regime.

What is happening in Algeria is extremely tragic not only because of its ruthlessness and barbaric proportions of violence but the way how regimes respond and react (with tacit or apparent Western consent and support) to face democratic changes and modern politics.

The FIS won the municipal elections by a landslide and were poised to win the nation?s first national elections. However its right was denied through illegal means, unconstitutional and not even in the nation?s interest. The FIS was never a militant organisation nor an extremist movement like what it has been attempted to made as later on. The FIS grew from the grassroots, the trend of the masses who were wishing for change. For years the old regime of the FLN could not bring advancement or development for the country. The FLN government was fraught with corruption and inefficiencies that were prevalent and would usually accompany weak socialist regimes all over the middle east and the third world. So when the oil boom was over and oil could not support its economy, Algeria underwent an economic crisis and social disorder. Social upheaval took to the streets in the form of food and price riots which was beyond the regime?s will to contain. The FLN regime had to call upon the syeikhs, imams and the Muslim activists to calm the nation and bring about peace. Social and political pressure culminated into forcing the FLN to agree to democratic elections. The FIS appeared in the whole affair as an organisation that was with the people and for the people. The FLN regime could no longer communicate with its own people. Even before, the FIS was well known as a social organisation and much welfare and charitable work was carried out for the people including, some said were collecting rubbish off the streets. No wonder when they were in the municipal and local governments they were running them well. Comparatively the FLN was too corrupt ,weak and bureaucratic.

The FIS showed leadership and performance. When the time came to contest the elections, the outcome was not unexpected because they were really a grassroot party with a leadership combining intellectuals and ulama? with that vision of Algeria after independence. That independence that was achieved by a war against the French which took the lives of one and a half million Algerian Muslims. The French it is said are still deeply nursing its hurt by the lost of its cherished province.

Why then did the coup take place without waiting for the final outcome of the elections? The military circle decided to launch an onslaught to wipe out the only and most popular post independence Algerian movement. Using that mixture of violence, repression and demonisation of Islam, that Zeroul regime sought to eliminate a resurgence and a revival of an ummah.Once again that Nasserite formula against the Ikhwan was used with much ferocity releasing its predators onto the countryside. Is it not a crime against humanity if a government of a nation and co-conspirators in the free world knowingly terrorise and torture its own masses including unsuspecting women and children? These does not include the intellectuals and religious leaders incarcerated by gruesome conditions in the prisons. Can this be regarded as an internal affair of a nation barring any intervention? It is criminal and premeditated to use and abuse innocents just because of ideological differences and losing particular elections. European inquiries can never be relied upon as the case of Bosnia shows. They will only pay lip service to the whole issue and its deliberation only prolongs the suffering and rip apart the fabric holding Algeria together. Blaming it on the GIA, that shady and shadowy band is really misleading especially when many reports say that it has been infiltrated and used by the regime. Laying the charge or the cause to extremists has always been the modern world?s answer in not listening to the needs of Muslims and the greater cause of Islam.

We must not let Algeria past into oblivion. The struggle to peace and establishment of the truth in Algeria must be part of the ummah's agenda.


Hamdan Muhammad Hassan

18 March 1998.

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[Currently, he is a Senior Civil Engineer at the University Science of Malaysia. He is involved in youth activities with the Muslim Youth Movement in Malaysia. He is also the Secretary for the Muslim Staff Association in his university.]

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