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Calm presides over city of Ghardaia after deadly sectarian clashes

By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)
4/9/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tensions between Mozabites, Chaamba fuel ongoing unrest

In the city of Ghardaia, south of Algiers hundreds of police are striving to maintain a precious calm after deadly sectarian clashes. A week of rioting left four people dead, with more than 100 wounded. Dozens of homes and businesses were razed to the ground. While things are orderly now, the threat of violence remains omnipresent.

The Mozabites follow a method of allegorical interpretation of anthropomorphist expressions found in the Qur'an.

The Mozabites follow a method of allegorical interpretation of anthropomorphist expressions found in the Qur'an.

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By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/9/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Mozabites, Chaamba, Ghardaia, sectarian clashes


ALGIERS, ALGERIA (Catholic Online) - One of the main reasons are feelings of animosity between two ethnic groups that leads to sectarian clashes.

Ghardia, a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to both Arabs and the ancient Mozabite. The Mozabite, of Berber origins speaks its own language and follows its own school of Islam, Ibadism, which is distinct from both Sunni and Shia sects.

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Tensions between the two have been high for the past few years, which is rooted in the region's history. The Chaamba here have led a nomadic existence. The war of independence have encouraged the Chaamba to settle in a large urban center of up to 400,000 inhabitants.

The Mozabites, in contrast follow a method of allegorical interpretation of anthropomorphist expressions found in the Qur'an. These two cultural differences, understandably lead to great conflict among tribes.

The city of Ghardaia has not yet dealt with racial discrimination and started a new era. Ill-conceived plans by local governments have failed to quell disturbances. Discrimination on basis of sex and ethnicity remain a steadfast part of Algerian culture that has yet to be dealt with.

Intellectuals here have pleaded for mandating heavier measures of the law governing such divergence from an accepted political policy and party line.

"Laws that govern social relations between individuals and human groups must be based on mutual respect. A possible deviation of the principle must be punished severely" Amar Zaidi, lawyer and human rights activist says.

Mozabites have accuse the country's government of being recent uprising against the backdrop of the forthcoming presidential election. They say that the animosity between the different clans at the highest level of the Algerian society has negatively impacted the region, already weakened by sectarianism.

Algerian President Bouteflika has stressed "the need to uphold the values of tolerance, harmony and dialogue that promotes our religion and secular virtues of solidarity and unity . the foundations of our society."

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