State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Algeria
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Publication Date||4 March 2007|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Algeria, 4 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48a97126c.html [accessed 1 February 2015]|
In 2006 the Berber minority of Algeria, comprising 20–30 per cent of the population, viewed with trepidation a possible thaw in the relationship between the government and Islamic militant organizations, all the more so following attacks on Berber political leaders.
In 2001, years of agitation for greater recognition of their Tamazight language, music and culture culminated in rioting. Implementation of vague January 2005 government concessions to Berber demands stemming from the unrest has been overshadowed by a rapprochement between the government and Islamic extremists. In February 2006, the cabinet of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika declared a six-month amnesty for government forces and most Islamist militants who were involved in the civil war of the 1990s if they agreed to disarm, but by its expiration fewer than 300 militants had accepted the offer. The sweeping 'law implementing the charter on peace and national reconciliation' also criminalized discussion of the conflict. Some Berber organizations that favour a secular Algerian state, such as the Movement for Autonomy in Kabylie, feared that the Bouteflika government was getting too close to the Islamists, even as this relationship remained ambivalent. In October 2006, the president of the Popular Assembly in the Tizi Ouzou province of the Kabylie region was shot and killed. The government blamed Islamic militants for this and two other assassinations of Berber leaders over the previous 13 months.