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2012-02-15

Attacks on bars multiply in Algeria

By Nazim Fethi for Magharebia in Algiers – 15/02/12

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Nearly 2,000 pubs and other alcoholic drink outlets have been closed in Algeria in the past three years, particularly in the Algiers area, according to a source from the alcoholic beverage producers' association.

In Tizi Ouzou, ten orders to shut down pubs were enforced by the police in September alone. In the capital, the authorities unleashed a real war on bars and pubs. The official reasons cited have been hygiene concerns and failure to comply with regulations governing the trade.

Algiers wali Mohamed Kebir Addou insisted the closures were normal and not evidence of the authorities overstepping their powers. He also downplayed the significance of Islamist influence on the government's decision.

"There has never been any suggestion from within the administration that we are giving in to blackmail to close an establishment if the owner is abiding by the current laws, especially if the reason behind it is some kind of engineered religious consideration," he said.

But Algerian Association of Drinks Producers (APAB) chief Ali Hamani suggested that the decision to crack down on alcohol sales had been "driven by public campaigners".

Algerian Islamists have recently redoubled their morality campaigning efforts, buoyed by their counterparts' successes in the region.

Thirty per cent of Algiers mosques have fallen under Salafists' control, an official from the religious affairs ministry told Magharebia on the condition of anonymity.

"The battle launched by the Salafist movement to take possession of the mosques is such that rigorous controls are needed," he said. "Salafist imams are well and truly in control of a number of mosques. Imams who have never been declared Salafists but whose convictions have subsequently come to light."

Former Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) founder El Hachemi Sahnouni, along with Abdelfatah Zeraoui Hamadache, called on young people in working class districts to take action.

"The number of crimes is increasing all the time, brawls are constantly increasing in number between those drinking alcohol and the decent people who live in the area," Sahnouni and Hamadache wrote in a statement released last October.

The two present themselves as being behind the "Awakening of the children of Algerian Mosques" initiative.

"We support and encourage district committees to start up more petitions and establish a raft of demands to present to the authorities, so that they can demand the complete closure of shops selling alcohol, which are contrary to the Prophet's religious teaching," said those behind the appeal.

Sahnouni, however, dismissed rumours that he was working with Hamadache to encourage district committees to rebel against bars and nightclubs in urban areas.

Meanwhile, APAB chief Hamani argued that tougher measures against public alcohol venues would backfire by encouraging informal trade.

"For every pub or bar which closes, three illegal drinking dens will spring up," Hamani warned. "Illegal sales are a real danger where alcohol is concerned. We need to control this activity within a formal framework. In an illegal drinking den, you'll also find prostitution and many other illegal activities. Illegal activities will cost us dearly."

"We're all in favour of regulating the trade, but it should not turn into an anti-alcohol campaign," Hamani said.

He wondered why the government, which had "facilitated the opening of bars" during the Black Decade, would discourage them now.

"Algeria is not ready to give in to blackmail from the Islamists, for the simple reason that the country has had a bitter experience of political Islamism and the Algerian people are not about to forget what they endured because of those people," said Workers' Party chairwoman Louisa Hanoune.

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  1. Anonymous_thumb

    AIT OUHROUCH 2014-1-4

    It's the prohibition of the sale of alcohol that made it get sold even from homes. It's the expensiveness that favours drug contraband from Morocco and destroys our young people. By trying to go against nature, we created only shit. As for salafism, it's also in the administrations. So long as we sit with our asses on two chairs, there will only be monstrosities here. We are only making a single people rise up against themselves. He's an official, he's 30 years old, he hasn't been praying long, but he comes here to moralise me at the threshold of my life and try to destroy everything I learned—my education, my contributions, my knowledge. As an Algerian who cried at seeing her son emigrate, I know tears of joy at seeing my child develop and succeed under different skies, and his value is above this hypocrisy. Happy New Year!

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    basbas el kebaili 2012-3-1

    The FIS’s agenda was implemented by the so-called national party (RND).

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    Salah el dîne titouna 2012-2-28

    This is quite a shame. I prefer people who drink. At least they are honest with other people and with themselves. The people who do prayers all day long are hypocrites. Soon there will be a mega mosque in Algiers with a great minaret. Is it going to feed the Algerian people? A mosque for 1 billion euros is the cost of a ticket to paradise for our president. Given that it will be built by the Chinese, the paradise will be in Taiwan.

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    yacine 2012-2-27

    Do you remember the closure of the brothels back when they were under state control and the world’s oldest profession was well managed? As a result of this course of action, we now find ourselves with cheap brothels that conceal their names. And I will spare you the details about the soliciting that goes on in the streets across Algeria. Where will the closure of the bars and pubs lead us???

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    othman ben 2012-2-27

    People are quick to forget and make it seem that fundamentalism has been defeated. Well, no, they are still around, and the 500,000 deaths from the years of terrorism did not shake them. There will be more intolerance, more murders in the name of their Islam and more misfortunes for this country, which does not have a memory. The attacks on bars are their way of mobilising their troops for acts that are even more grave than the ones we have lived through. Meanwhile, the politicians are encouraging Belkhadem and company, who are all fundamentalists of the first order.

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    على 2012-2-24

    Liquor on the sidewalks and drugs on the small streets, but who did this to us?

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    شيماء 2012-2-23

    I think that the relations between Maghreb countries will be good especially after the downfall of the hurdles which stood in the face of creating a Maghreb Union. These hurdles are corrupt regimes which claimed that the Maghreb Union would damage the interests of regional states. Finally, may God reward you with all the good!

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    عاشت الجزائرديمقراطية بلا جهلاء 2012-2-23

    Mixing religion and politics is a terrible threat. When God created human beings, He made for them a membrane separating the lower part of the belly and the upper part. This means a wall between the stomach and intestines on the one hand and the heart and lungs on the other hand so that there would no interference between the interest and conscience! Therefore, mixing religion and politics means removing that membrane and it will be a catastrophe, God forbids! We hope that all Algerians and our Arab brothers everywhere, especially in Tunisia, will be careful about the seriousness of mixing religion and politics. No to the repetition of the Black Decade! A believer is not bitten from the burrow twice!! No to the exploitation of religion for mundane goals!!

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    الفاتح ابدا 2012-2-22

    The green flag will return flying high in the sky of Jamahirya!

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    عمر العزيز 2012-2-21

    It is nice as this is a form of reform if we don’t say real reform. Many people took their decisions while they were drunk and they destroyed themselves and destroyed many people.

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    flyingmythbuster 2012-2-21

    It looks like you're setting yourself up to be Chicago circa 1920's. As Anon says, some will seek more dangerous substances. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Islamists themselves will be heading up the new rackets.

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    رجاءنوراليقين 2012-2-20

    May God protect us and protect Muslim young people from enormous sins including wine!

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    Amine 2012-2-20

    Whether someone drinks in private or on the streets, he is still a mole.

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    Anonymous 2012-2-19

    Our society’s problem is not the people who drink alcoholic beverages. Just take a look at who is the cause of the traffic accidents, gang warfare between neighbourhoods, assaults on honest persons and even crimes and so on. All of this is known. The authorities are bowing down to the pressures of the Islamists, and in this vein, it will not be very long before there will be no bars and no open areas to drink in La Place d’Alger. In response, there will be an excess in psychotropic substances, opium, hard drugs and so on. A bright future awaits us.

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    tarik 2012-2-18

    Drinking alcohol is a sin, but closing a bar in order to convert people will mean alcohol is going to be sold illegally in back alleys. Now, we see people drinking cans of beer on the sidewalk, showing no respect. It is a shame that the street has become some sort of rubbish bin for beer cans, which, of course, are empty.

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    Arthur Borges 2012-2-18

    Such an inspiring land and such a warm, tough, vibrant and hospitable people who paid so dearly on the Allied side in World War II, then against the French from Sétif 1945 onwards and then there was the bottomlessly horrid bloodshed of the 1990s; how sad to see intolerance hanging on to secure total control.

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    Chami 2012-2-16

    I totally agree with the fact that closing bars will lead to opening other places for illegally selling alcohol.

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    amine 2012-2-16

    I drink alcohol, but at home. Is it the government and/or Chakib Kallil who runs Algeria? That is the real issue. However, alcohol is a human matter, not the Good Lord’s, but the government has lost its orientation. $17 billion is a budget equal to that of three Eastern European countries. That’s how it goes. As they say,"this is my uncle's house, I take what I want and leave." amine 25 ans alg

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    kameldelyon 2012-2-15

    In Algeria, you cannot drink a beer. I tried to during my vacation! Nothing is right there! The Algerians are forced to drink in dark bistros with the curtains hiding them! It is a shame that between the state and the inhabitants, you are forced to play hide and seek.

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