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Kabylia (Algeria)

Last modified: 2003-08-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: kabylia | berbers | crescent (red) | star (red) |
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The Berbers in Kabylia

In Kabylia, Berbers are represented by two political parties and one cultural association:

  • FFS (Front des Forces Socialistes - Socialist Forces' Front), founded in 1963, legalized in 1989, is directed by Hocine Ait-Ahmed, an historical leader of the Algerian independence war. FFS fights for democratization and secularization of the society, free elections and national reconciliation. FFS approves dialogue with Islamists.
  • RCD (Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Démocratie - Union for Culture and Democracy), founded in 1989, is directed by Said Saidi. RCD is part of the 'eradication' movement, which calls for the suppression of Islamists by force. RCD left the government one week after the onset of the riots in Kabylia in Spring 2001.
  • MCB (Mouvement pour la Culture Berbère - Movement for Berber Culture), founded in 1980, advocates the development of a Berber language written in Latin alphabet. Its members might be partisans of either FFS or RCD.

The Berbers expected acknowledgement of their specificity after their participation to the independence war (1954-1962). Anyway, president Ben Bella said in 1962 'We are all Arabians'.
Following the arrestation of the writer Mouloud Mammeri, who had attempted to give a lecture on the classical Berber poetry, the 'Kabylie spring' started in Tizi-Ouzou in 1980 (with the birth of MCB), and thousands of demonstrators were arrested. President Chadli claimed 'We are all Berbers arabized by Islam'.
In 1994-1995, the 'satchel strike' caused thousands of Berber students stopping attending classes. Following the strike, teaching Berber in the Berber-speaking areas was proposed and the High-Commission for Amazighity, attached to the Presidency of Republic, was created. However, lack of funds made teaching of Berber more virtual than real.
In 1996, president Zeroual revised the Constitution, but the main claim of the Berbers, acknowledgement of Berber as the second national language of Algeria, was once again rejected.
On 30 April 2001, President Bouteflika said: 'identitary revendication also has a constitutional component, which can be accounted for only by a constitutional revision', but his loose speech strongly deceived the young Kabyls. The situation is still very explosive.

Source: Courrier International #549 (10 May 2001)

Ivan Sache, 29 May 2001

Flags seen during the commemoration of the "Kabyle spring"

[Kabyle flag, 2000]by Nicolas Rucks

TV5 showed images of the Kabyle people commemorated that event today in what seems to have been a huge demonstration. One flag was quite similar to other Berber flags, only the shade of blue was darker and the symbol was definitely drawn at right angles.

[Kabyle flag, 2000]by Nicolas Rucks

The other flag I saw was the Algerian national flag defaced with the same symbol, only yellow, on the white portion of the flag.

Nicolas Rucks, 20 April 2000

Kabyle flags outside Algeria

[Kabyle flag in Montreal]by Luc Baronian

I saw this flag in a nice litte Kabyle restaurant in Montreal, L'etoile Kabyle.
The owner first told me it was the Berber flag, but when I asked him if it was used outside Algeria, he said he didn't know.

The flag is 2:3 (approx.), gold, with this black symbol that was reproduced everywhere in the restaurant : on a calendar, on the walls, on the ceiling with colourful clothes.

The owner told me that the flag was a symbol of liberty, democracy and prosperity.

Luc Baronian, 20 June 1997