The Algerian people; a nation that has been bruised and battered, emerging from enemy occupation and plunging into civil unrest and government oppression followed by civil war and terrorism, a history that ravaged the country and its people and brought the economy to its knees.
A national identity and a strong nationalism were actively cultivated since 1962 (independence) through strong educational history syllabuses filled with gory details of the bloody war lead against the French occupation, with stories of martyrs and heroes that fell, of our duty to remember and honour the seven year war and genocides in Setif and Kherata.
Cultivated thought remembrance days, patriotic rituals and traditions, such as the flag salute ceremony practiced in every school in the country at the beginning and end of the week, nationalistic bank holidays such as 1st November (revolution day) and 5th July (Independence day), which were great measure taken to reinforce the people’s allegiance to la mere patrie and stop them from running back to France and to reinforce the national identity as one and united.
This national identity developed further and was strengthened through the unfortunate political events and civil unrest, the hardship the Algerian people were put through has produced a new breed of Nationalism, one that is so strong, it is overpowering and over zealous, perhaps even fanatical and can be witnessed in many aspects of the Algerian persona and lifestyle (politics, football, relationships, family…etc); we are one and united.
We Algerians have been indoctrinated to such an extent, we all believed we were all from the same big family with the same values, lives and principles; perhaps it was Boumediene's socialism that rendered everybody equal.
This sense of belonging to the same clan is what gave way to the over bearing Algerian fraternity, when they blindly defend each other even if they don't know each other and the fact they're both Algerian suffices, when they judge other Algerians as though they were brought up in the same house and by the same mother, when they watch each others step as though they were in charge of the principles & piety brigade(1), when they scrutinise the Algerian woman when she travels solo, drinks alcohol, dates openly or marries someone who is not Algerian or even Algerian but different as in not from the same area, background or race, based first on this huge pride pang and race protection instinct they develop and ultimately on the delusion that we are all sons and daughters of our mother Algeria.
The government went to great efforts to perpetrate and create this Algerian pride and strong patriotism, but it seems to be mostly focused towards or perhaps more appropriate to say AGAINST the International scene (France etc) there was no effort in establishing a national unity that is based on embracing the rich diversity Algeria boasts in terms of people, languages, races and religions, so we ended up with a torn sense of identity, United against most things foreign but divided amongst ourselves.
We unite strappingly for football; patriotic songs come out, Algerian flags everywhere, Algerians all together in unison and euphoria, we forget where we come from and what colour we are, yet we divide for domestic matters, over Arabic and Tamazight (Berber language), over religion, we look down each other based on geography and accents, the only time YOU have heard of Tindouf was on TV when they announce Ramadan Iftar times along with Ain Salah and Bordj-baji-Mokhtar(2), the only time you have seen the Sahara desert or the Jurjura mountains was on NatGeo, the only time you were heard of St Augustine’s basilica was because he (St Augustine) was born in Algeria and that makes you proud.
Our Algerian Identity seems to be strong, yet it is visibly torn;
Algerians are torn between being Arabs, Berbers, between being Algérois or Algériens, Moderate or fanatical Muslim, between
Malgrès tout Bladi nebghik - will no longer be relevant.
An Algerian and proud Dz-chick
Article of interest: http://www.economist.com/node/142366
(1) Police ta3 al akhlaq - made up of course
(2) What on earth does it mean!!