10 December 2012

Morocco: Nation, Algeria Bloggers Want Open Border

Algiers — The relationship between Algeria and Morocco will define the future of the Maghreb, bloggers on both sides say.

Moroccan and Algerian bloggers are calling for their shared border to be re-opened.

They argue that the two nations have been linked for centuries by blood, marriage, proximity, mutual interests, literature and music. The border has been closed for nearly 18 years.

Algerian writer and journalist Said Khatibi, along with Moroccan blogger and journalist Mohcine Attiki, launched a joint appeal for the re-opening of the border, which "has been closed for too long".

Published on the websites Slate Afrique, and Algérie Focus, their heartfelt appeal denounces the "wall" that has been erected between the two neighbouring countries with such close social and ethnic ties.

"A very strong bond exists between them. A bond which cannot be broken on the basis of a mere political decision," Khatibi and Attiki wrote.

"The closure of the Algerian-Moroccan border stemmed from a political decision which failed to take account of the special nature of the border region," they added. "Throughout their history, Algeria and Morocco have continually been meeting places."

The bloggers quoted literary critic Jean Dijeux, who said that post-independence Algerian literature could not be read separately from Moroccan literature, as the two overlap and are interwoven.

They pointed to authors Mohammed Dib, Driss Chraibi, Kateb Yacine, Abdelatif Laabi, Assia Djebar, Mohammed Kheireddine, Nabil Fares, Rachid Boudjedra, Mohamed Choukri, Abdelkabir Khatibi and many others linked by their commitment to the Maghreb.

"In both music and the fine arts, and in both rai and dance, Algeria and Morocco have much in common and people from both countries have made their mark on them," Khatibi and Attiki pointed out.

"The cultural boundaries are being pushed back and both nations are impatiently waiting for the 'final wall' that separates them to come down," they said.

The two peoples, the journalists added, dream "of another coming-together, of a single Algerian-Moroccan identity, and not of an identity stained by political conflict".

In a post titled "Should the Algerian-Moroccan border be opened?", Algerian blogger Abbes Labdelli also explained that it was in Algeria's interests to open the border.

"The influx of tourists will be equal on both sides of the border," he said. "Algerian fuel will also be a draw for Moroccan tourists, who could dispense with the services of smugglers and come to visit Algeria and stock up at the same time."

"Opening the border will not only be economically worthwhile, it will also be a humanitarian gesture which will allow mixed families to meet and be reunited," Labdelli said.

In his post, Moroccan blogger Mohamed Boufous stated that since independence, "Algeria and Morocco... have been living in an unprecedented and baffling climate of mutual mistrust and on-going disagreement, which even history, mutual interests and the blood that was shed for the sake of dignity and freedom along a shared land border have neither resolved nor dissipated."

Boufous told how, throughout his career as governor of Errachidia in the 1970s and governor of Oujda in the 1980s, he saw friendships blossom across the border.

Boufous stated that Morocco and Algeria were the beating heart of the Maghreb and the foundations upon which the Maghreb Union would be built.

"Never, in any region of the world, has the border between neighbouring countries known such a fate, such a disagreement, such a lack of understanding...such a human disaster," he wrote.

"Men, women and children on both sides... are suffering as a result of this lack of communication, humanity, kindness, tolerance and above all, justice," Boufous added.

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