Violence in Algeria Publication date : February 1, 1998

Faced with the tragic development of the Algerian crisis, public opinion has been gripped with a sense of shock: How did events reach such a desperate situation? What caused the violence which now colours every reference to Algeria? A superficial observer may hastily conclude that the troubles began with the Islamic fundamentalist movement. However, the articles in this volume, all recently published in the magazine Esprit, show, on the contrary, that the events leading to the current situation date from an earlier time and have deeper roots.
Firstly, Algeria is a nation robbed of its mother tongue. The Arabization movement, although voicing a legitimate desire, was too hastily conducted and it has favoured the teaching of classical Arabic which is not the language spoken by the majority of the people.

A second trauma suffered by Algerians concerns their cities and their surroundings. The indifference of architects and politicians has resulted in the growth of inaesthetic, soulless cities and suburbs.
The third trauma relates to the nation's historical memory. The official version of the struggle for independence leads one to believe that it was won by the FLN (National Liberation Front) alone, and ignores all other actors in the struggle--and particularly the religious element.
Algeria's identity problems are manifested by the extreme fragility of the link between generations, and by the difficult relations between sons and their fathers. How can Algerians not feel orphaned by a nation that has not ceased denying itself?
What can be done to help Algeria regain its memory, despite this traumatising context? The writers believe that the answer lies in an examination of the language, in an in-depth study of Islam, and in the rehabilitation of the memory of Algeria's victims--so as not to abandon to the Islamic fundamentalists the task of recovering the lost national identity.
Contributors: Mohamed Benrabah (University of Oran); Abdenour
Djellouli (architect); Nabile Farès (anthropologist and psychoanalyst in Grenoble and Angers); Gilbert Grandguillaume (anthropologist);
Abdelwahab Meddeb (writer); Olivier Mongin; Lucile Provost (high-ranking civil servant); Paul Thibaud; Pierre Vidal-Naquet.