5 November 2012

Algerian Youth Mark Revolution Day

Algiers — Young people give expression to their national memory through songs, dance and arts.

Young Algerians found a special way to celebrate the 58th anniversary of Revolution Day.

Members of the Group for Freedom of Cultural and Civil Activity (CLACC) marked the national holiday of November 1st by converging on the Parc de la Liberte in Algiers.

Youths were long prevented from gathering in public places. But with the repeal of the 19-year-old state of emergency last year, Algerians are now determined to break the slow motion and monotony of city life.

This year, they chose to commemorate the anniversary of the 1954 liberation with music, dance and art.

"When we started up this group, our idea was to express ourselves on the streets, because it felt as though public places didn't belong to us," CLACC member Mehdi Sekkal told Magharebia.

"Policemen come to see what we're doing, then they go away again without bothering us," he said.

He said that local residents had responded quite well to their cultural activities, and some even clapped or cheered them on from their balconies.

Amine Chibane, one of the group's founders, told Magharebia that the idea behind their initiative was to have fun on the streets of Algiers or elsewhere and to entertain music and art lovers.

A real buzz surrounded the CLACC activities to the accompaniment of several guitarists and percussionists. The young and the old alike danced to catchy tunes.

The CLACC has been active in Algiers since last April, the peak of the Arab Spring. Since then, the movement has spread to other cities such as Constantine, Sidi Belabbes and Oran. It has also attracted well-known performers such as Amazigh Kateb and Djmawi Africa.

"It's wonderful to see movements that do something to lift our streets out of their glumness and shift our focus away from certain religious movements which scare us," Said Ait Hamou, a student who attended an activity organised by the group for the first time, told Magharebia.

Imene Mouali, a young IT worker who also came along to the Parc de la Liberté, said it was the first time she had celebrated November 1st.

"The festival of November 1st is generally aimed at older people and senior government officials. As we're not invited, it's not for us," she told Magharebia. "It's great that young people are launching initiatives as a way of saying that they too have a voice in modern-day Algeria."

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