Protesters Stifled By Security Forces In Algeria
The clash led to the arrest of multiple pro-democracy protesters, including human rights activisits. News outlets have reported conflicting numbers of those detained. However, Al Jazeera reports that sources said hundreds had been arrested.
Protesters had gathered in the Algerian capital's May 1 Square before they were blocked by security forces from continuing on a planned march.
Algerian officials had banned the demonstration.
“There was a march of police, not demonstrators,” a man told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity. “The marchers had asked to conduct a peaceful march and it was refused. This is how power here acts.”
The New York Times reports:
In Algeria several antigovernment protests broke out in early January, including some in which demonstrators clashed with members of the country’s security forces.
Those protests, which included some rioting by young people, came after sudden price increases for flour, sugar and other food staples. In 2009, there were riots in Algiers over high unemployment and housing shortages.
Algeria’s government has operated under a state of emergency for nearly two decades. Its battle with Islamic militants reached a peak in a brutal civil war in the 1990s, in which as many as 200,000 people were killed.
Reports on the numbers of those in attendance at Saturday's demonstration range from dozens to thousands. But one witness said the protesters were outnumberd by the police.
Algeria is a major exporter of oil and gas, and widespread unrest in the country could have negative consequences on the world economy. But the government could use its wealth to quiet some of its people's complaints.