30 January 2013

Algeria: Bloggers Discuss in Amenas Attack

Algiers — Online commentators in Algeria take stock of one of the worst terrorist attacks in years.

In the wake of the recent terrorist attack at In Amenas, Algerians were caught between anger at the terrorists and concerns that the situation could get worse.

One journalist, Fella Bouredji, used her blog to give citizens an opportunity to air their views on the issue.

Meriem, a 28-year-old actress, said she had many unanswered questions about the situation in Mali. "All I know is that we have to stop the spread of terrorism," she said.

Djamila, 38, a teacher, recalled how Algerians have experienced terrorism first hand. She said she hoped that the war in Mali would not reawaken the shadowy Algerian Islamist network.

"Little by little, this war is creeping across our borders," said 55-year-old house wife Samia.

At the "Daily Lines" blog, journalist Akram Belkaid affirmed his support for the international military intervention in Mali, despite the fact that many Algerians opposed it.

"There's nothing surprising about this hostility," he wrote of the opposition.

"It has emerged from and feeds on nationalist convictions, historical memory, the remains of anti-imperialism in a country which has ditched its non-aligned-socialist period and lurched into 'bazarism', and the conviction that the West - and France in particular - never wages war without some ulterior motive."

He added that it was not the time for "virtuous posturing" or for repeating the principles of non-interference but instead a time to put forward practical solutions to preserve the integrity of a country.

Meanwhile the author behind "Black Cat" blog wrote that he was "disgusted" at the lack of communication on the rescue operation. The blogger went on to bemoan the attention given to the terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar while the courageous Algerian soldier is a mere "ghost".

"When will the Algerian authorities realise that these mediaeval terrorists understand much better than they do how the invisible but destructive mechanism of media manipulation works?" the writer wondered.

He added that "millions of young and impressionable minds, struck by the event, are going to choose their hero, and they have two options: the one-eyed man who attracts all the attention by striking at the heart of the 'crusading West and its Algerian accomplices', or the hooded elite ANP soldier who courageously goes into the action under fire to save the lives of private citizens."

Other bloggers also sought to call attention to the Algerian heroes of the hostage crisis. At the "Algerian Sun" site, Benchenouf Djamaledine paid tribute to the Algerian technicians who refused the terrorists' orders to pressurise the gas complex.

"By doing so, they saved innumerable human lives and saved their country from billions of dollars of material damage," he wrote.

Algerians also saluted the work of the army. Brahim Senouci hailed the "exceptional courage" of the Algerian soldiers, noting they risked their lives "not only in combat, but also in the huge fire started by the terrorists".

Another blog paid tribute to Mohamed Amine Lahmar, the security agent at the complex who resisted the terrorists by shutting the gate and activating the alarm to indicate that the complex was under armed attack.

Lahmar was killed in cold blood by a bullet to the head.

"This young man, this hero, deserves the nation's gratitude. He was buried quietly by his family in Mehdia, far from the pomp and ceremony of a distorted nation, cut off and isolated from the Algerian people," Mohand Bakir wrote at Reprendre La Parole.

A Facebook page has also been set up to allow internet users to pay their respects.

"We are able to share nonsense through Facebook," the page reads, "so for once, let's make our sharing meaningful and pay tribute to this young man who gave his life in full knowledge of the consequences to protect his colleagues and, above all, to do the job which he was hired to do at the site."

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