Legislation to strip Algerians of citizenship will stifle dissenting voices – Middle East Monitor10 Marzo 2021
The Algerian government is studying a draft bill which will allow citizenship to be stripped from anyone living abroad who the authorities in Algiers believe is acting against the country’s interests. This is likely to reduce further the chances of a political breakthrough in the crisis gripping Algeria.The strict measures taken against political opponents reflect the severity of the crisis and its escalation. Minister of Justice Belkacem Zeghmati proposed the bill which will cover any Algerian citizen living overseas who acts against the interests of the state, undermines national unity, joins a terrorist organisation, and finances or defends terrorism. While the opposition sees the draft legislation as a step towards a crackdown and exclusion, government supporters consider it as a way to stop those who they claim are distorting the image of the country and conspiring against it.The issue lies in the tension and political calculations on which relations between the government and the opposition are built. The government is thus trying to tighten its grip on opponents. For example, Amer Garash is a young man who was in the front line of the protest movement since its launch in 2019 in the state of Ouargla. No one had heard of him until a court sentenced him to seven years in prison on charges linked to “terrorism”. His lawyer says that the prosecution did not present any evidence to prove the case. Many believe that the sentence was simply a warning to young protesters who went back onto the streets with anti-government slogans, unwavering in their demands while ignoring the political alternatives offered which keep state institutions intact as the only solution.