‘Thank God you live in a better land’ – a blog from the Algerian demonstrations

Last week Algeria saw it’s own demonstrations crushed by the authorities.

We received this blog from friends in the country. Please remember it is written in somebody’s second language.

‘Arabic political regimes are moving, lets prey that it will be in the right direction.
Everything is crazy here.

Let me explain the situation. We are all complaining of corruption, the stealing of the nation’s wealth, oil scandal, favouritism, bureaucracy- in brief all that will kill the country but we all know that those we decide about everything are not necessarily those that we think should be deciding.

A total reform of the system must be made but we all know that must mean the total collapse of the army which manages the state since independence. It’s an impossible mission for most of us but maybe an opportunity to promote some opponents and the unexpected survey of vultures.

So people have different aims, some of them don’t want to promote what they see as a civil war because they are still traumatised by 15 years of civil war. They just ask that peace remains. We are still trying to heal what terrorism caused- that’s why I understand this part of the people. We are different from our neighbours, ironically in some ways we have more freedom here, we can use social networking for instance but we are not free.

I wish I could leave this fucking country because I have sacrificed my youth living here.
You should thank god that you are living in a better land.’

These are powerful words.

Another example of pop culture and the revolution in the arabic world, a world full of dynamic youth looking for change and old governments who are propped up by the west. This is a world that is changing fast.

You can’t miss it. A proper youthquake that has been rumbling for a couple of years in the middle east aided by pop culture. It could have started in Iran after the elections when Tehran was briefly jammed full of youthful protesters and the Green Revolution powered by Youtube, facebook and twitter, then it was Tunisia and then Egypt. A series of revolutions with all varying degrees of success. The dusty old regimes propped up by the west started to look nervous.

Algeria had it’s own 2011 attempt at an uprising that has so far been quickly crushed. I went there last year to play a gig and saw all the cops everywhere, standing on every street corner. This is a nation with a very different situation from it’s neighbours. A ruthless and bloody civil war only recently ended and people are nervous about reopening old wounds whilst still being unhappy with the government. Ironically they have more freedoms than some of their neighbours with internet usage and a thriving local scene of rappers and metal bands whilst living in a country run by the military.

The Algerians who are a fiercely proud and beautiful people have a persuasive love for life and the kids we met in Algier City were amazing. I hope and prey that the current situation turns out ok for them and their government listens to them and finds a solution because they are in a potentially volatile situation.

Pop culture is at the forefront of the revolutions. But this is not a call for McDonalds culture- this is a call for freedoms on the people’s own terms. Whether it’s an islamic revolution or a modern world mixed with Islamic culture is for the people to decide.

But already the old order has changed.

The battle hymn of the jasmine rebellion in Tunisia was a rap song from a woman rapper, “Rais Lebled,” a song written by the Tunisian rapper known as El Général. The lyrics go.
“Mr. President, your people”Mr. President, your people are dying/ People are eating rubbish/ Look at what is happening/ Miseries everywhere, Mr. President/ I talk with no fear/ Although I know I will get only trouble/ I see injustice everywhere.”

And it’s not the extremists driving this charge. It’s the youth. Half the population is under 30 in the Arab world and they want change but they don’t want extremism. They have no leaders. They have will power and the Internet, mobile phones and pop music- all considered trivia in the west but powerful tools in the right hands.
They all have the same demands: a right to choose and change their leaders, an end to rampant corruption, the opportunity for employment and improvement. Not much to ask really.

I hope my friends in the Middle East get what they need.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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