Clockwise from top left: Annie Ernaux, Arundhati Roy, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky
Letter To The President Of The Republic Of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune
Algeria is more than a country; it is an idea of the stubborn will for liberation. Sixty years after Algeria’s independence, this idea continues to shine hope on the hearts of all those who struggle everywhere against oppression, proof that victory over injustice is possible, even when the challenge seems impossibly unequal.
Today, however, this great country is closing like a steel trap on its political opposition, on its own citizens who dare to dream of the rule of law.
The journalist Ihsane El Kadi is in prison because he would not bend to the will of those who rule the country, those who want to make of him a sham journalist, leashed and muzzled like so many others.
Arrested in the middle of the night on Dec. 24, 2022 by half a dozen military officers, Mr. El Kadi, the director of Radio M and the news site Maghreb Emergent, was hauled to the offices of his media company the next day by security forces. His colleagues and friends watched the police raid, in tears at the spectacle of this journalist, displayed in handcuffs at the scene of his crime-an independent media company.
After a rushed investigation marred by procedural abuses and civil rights violations, El Kadi was sentenced on April 2, 2023: five years in prison, of which he must serve three before being eligible for parole. His appeal will be heard this month; meanwhile he remains in Algiers’ El Harrach prison.
At 64, El Kadi is a veteran of independent journalism in Algeria, much as his father Bachir El Kadi was a veteran of Algeria’s war of liberation. A journalist whose tenacity for independent journalism is a corollary to his education in freedom, derived directly from the struggle of his people to liberate themselves from the colonial yoke.
El Kadi is accused of betraying his country, but viewed from our perspective--distant but deeply interested in Algeria--he appears to have anchored his life’s work in his love of his country.
And this is why we have chosen to write you today, to ask that you do everything in your power to put an end to the police and judicial harassment of Ihsane El Kadi, and all of the other prisoners of conscience in Algeria.
Mr President, whatever its internal disagreements and discords, Algeria remains an ideal far greater than the dungeon it is becoming for its boldest journalists and most outspoken dissidents. It is the promised land of the wretched of the earth.
It is within your power to free Ihsane El Kadi and all the other imprisoned journalists and prisoners of conscience. Use that power, in memory of Algeria’s fight for justice and liberty.
Etienne Balibar, Philosopher (France) Joyce Blau, Linguist, FLN supporter during the Algerian war for independence Noam Chomsky, Linguist (United States) Annie Ernaux, Novelist, Nobel Laureate in Literature (France) Elias Khoury, Novelist (Lebanon) Abdelatif Laabi, Poet (Morocco) Ken Loach, Filmmaker (United Kingdom) Achille Mbembe, Historian and political theorist (Cameroon) Arundhati Roy, Author (India) Youssef Seddik, Philosopher (Tunisia)