On Friday, the Algerian movement DZ United led a peaceful rally at UC Berkeley to raise awareness of Algeria’s sociopolitical situation among students and the campus community.
UC Berkeley was the first university where DZ United held an Algerian revolution awareness rally, according to Mourad Cherfaoui, organizer of the campus protest and a DZ United member. Though Cherfaoui added that the organization had hoped for a larger attendance, members of DZ United were able to speak with a multitude of activists regarding activism strategies.
The Algerian resistance movement is a peaceful uprising against the country’s government that was imposed by the current administration known as “the system,” Cherfaoui said in an email. These mass protests began Feb. 22, born out of shared opposition to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to remain in office for a fifth term.
“We wanted to raise awareness about the situation in Algeria among students but also among the UC Berkeley community at large and beyond, in academia and the American public opinion,” Cherfaoui said in the email. “Our goal is to bring light to the events in Algeria so that international pressure is put on the regime in Algeria.”
The generic Arabic word for movement, “hirak,” has become the name of the peaceful protests in Algeria. This historically charged word, which was also used to describe the October 2016 Moroccan uprising, seeks the establishment of a democratic Algeria in which the power is distributed among the people, Cherfaoui said in the email.
Cherfaoui added that the event for the campus rally was shared on various social media platforms and seen in Algeria.
“Fellow citizens in Algerian often tell us how our support boost their determination to keep fighting – peacefully,” according to the email from Cherfaoui.
Algerian Americans from DZ United were accompanied by student activists on Upper Sproul Plaza on Friday afternoon. They exhibited pictures of political detainees, which featured young citizens arrested while advocating for democracy in Algeria and people that “stayed true to their principles” despite an allegedly oppressive government, according to Cherfaoui.
Cherfaoui added that throughout Bouteflika’s 20-year term, he and his inner circle held the country’s power in their hands. Following his resignation in July, the head of the upper house of Parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, became acting head of state.
Algeria’s presidential election will be held Dec. 12, though it will still be organized by the current government.
“We don’t believe that elections should be held in the current situation where freedom of the media is curbed and prisoners of opinion are in jail,” Cherfaoui said in the email. “We demand a period of transition with a serious dialog between the system and representatives of the hirak to determine the next steps for a solution to the crisis.”