Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raises questions of the US invasion of Iraq. Did all those people die for nothing given Saddam would have been overthrown by peaceful protest in 2011?

Algeria protesters push for change
Pro-democracy demonstrators, inspired by the Egyptian revolution, ignore official ban and march in the capital Algiers.

Algerian security forces and pro-democracy protesters have clashed in the capital, Algiers, amid demonstrations inspired by the revolution in Egypt.
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Heavily outnumbered by riot police, at least 2,000 protesters were able to overcome a security cordon enforced around the city's May First Square on Saturday, joining other demonstrators calling for reform.

Earlier, thousands of police in riot gear were in position to stop the demonstrations that could mimic the uprising which forced out Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's long-serving president.

Security forces closed all entrances to Algiers and arrested hundreds of protesters, sources told Al Jazeera.

Elias Filali, an Algerian blogger and activist, said human rights activists and syndicate members were among those arrested at the scene of the protests.

"I'm right in the middle of the march," he told Al Jazeera. "People are being arrested and are heavily guarded by the police."

Officials banned Saturday's opposition march but protesters were determined to see it through.

Peaceful protests 

Filali said the demonstrators were determined to remain peaceful, but he claimed that the police "want the crowd to go violent and then get them portrayed as a violent crowd".

Protesters are demanding greater democratic freedoms, a change of government and more jobs.

Many demonstrators in Algeria have been inspired by the events unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia [AFP] Earlier, police also charged at demonstrators and arrested 10 people outside the Algiers offices of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), as they celebrated Mubarak's downfall, Said Sadi, RCD leader, told the AFP news agency.

"It wasn't even an organised demonstration. It was spontaneous. It was an explosion of joy," he said.

Mubarak's resignation on Friday, and last month's overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president for 23 years, have electrified the Arab world.

Many are left wondering which country could be next in a region where a flammable mix of authoritarian rule and popular anger are the norm.

"The timing is absolutely perfect. [Mubarak's departure] couldn't have come at a better time," Filali told Al Jazeera in the run-up to the protests.

"This is a police state, just like the Egyptian regime [was]."

Filali said Algeria's government was "corrupt to the bone, based on electoral fraud, and repression".

"There is a lot of discontent among young people ... the country is badly managed by a corrupt regime that does not want to listen".
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