Algerians are unhappy about religious zealotry. Photo: CIMMYT, Flickr
More than 500 Algerians ate and drank in public during Ramadan on Saturday morning in the "rebel" city of Tizi Ouzou in a first-of-its-kind collective action to mark opposition against the "Islamization" of the country. "There is a climate of terror against those who do not fast" during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, one person said.
For more on breaking rules during Ramadan, see:
Participants in this unusual action included unaffiliated citizens and Berber political activists, who did not hesitate to display the Berber flag.
The city of Tizi Ouzou was the scene of some bloody disputes related to the cultural and identity claims of Kabyle residents who were very badly opposed to the Arabization policies imposed by the government since independence. It is reported that similar events are planned today in Bejaia, Kabyle port city, and even in France and Canada, where large Kabyle communities live.
Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan. For the most part, in Muslim countries restaurants are open only in luxury hotels and authorities encourage people to observe the fast, one of the five pillars of Islam. Until the 1980s, at least in cities, the restaurants were open.
The civil war which lasted over ten years (from 1990) has changed the situation in Algeria. Since then, a number of civil society and opposition parties have denounced what they called the "creeping Islamization" of Algeria, accented by the Arab Spring, which saw the coming to power of Islamists in several countries.
“The rally in Tizi Ouzou, one of the main cities of Kabyle, was launched in the wake of a police check operation carried out on July 19 which resulted in the closure of a bar a nearby town, Tigzirt.” The owner, who was stripped of his license, was finally able to recover, according to the press.
The Wali (governor) of Tizi Ouzou, Abdelkader Bouazeghi, explained that it was a “routine check”. It was not the first time that measures were taken against non-fasters.