Call for the respect of freedom of artistic expression in Algeria
“Algerian intellectuals, journalists, cultural activists, artists and writers ring the alarm and request from the Ministry of Culture to lift its control over the cultural sector and let the independent/civil cultural artistic stakeholders undertake their projects freely…”
Algerian artists and intellectuals launched this petition for freedom of expression, published by El Watan and Africultures.com, among others. “For many years now, the cultural sector in Algeria has suffered from the hegemonic control of a single authority which stifles creation, takes over the spaces of artistic expression in their entirety and locks up the field of cultural action: the Ministry of Culture.
Institutionalization of artistic events, limitation of broadcast licenses for cine films and licenses for events organizers, patronage policy and invitation cards, are examples of the many actions undertaken by this ministry which have shaped, in a decade, a really restrictive public policy that destroys all independent action.
Without any cultural policy and endowed with a very important budget, this ministry, instead of playing its role of regulation of the sector and of support to the activities undertaken by the cultural associations, has become a machine of exclusion and intellectual repression generating an “official culture” which the Algerian citizen cannot relate to.
Even more dangerous, in the last few months, the Ministry of Culture doesn’t hesitate to threaten and intimidate directly any citizen who carries an action that isn’t officially “approved”. Many examples occurred just last month: intimidation of the instigators of the project of the cultural policy in Algeria, threats against the journalist who published a case on the scandal of heritage renovation in the daily newspaper El Fadjr, etc…
We, Algerian intellectuals, journalists, cultural activists, artists and writers, the majority of whom are young, ring the alarm and request from the ministry to lift its control over the cultural sector and let the independent/civil cultural artistic stakeholders undertake their projects freely.
In addition we urge international organizations, towards which Algeria committed itself to respect the right of freedom of artistic expression and cultural action of the citizens, to take the measures necessary to press the Ministry of Culture to loosen the tight net around the forces of creation in Algeria.”
Algiers, May 2012
First signatories (the list remains open):
1) Ammar Kessab (international expert in cultural policies) 2) Fatma Baroudi (arts journalist / Djazair News) 3) Said Khatibi (arts journalist / Doha Magazine) 4) Hadjoudja Benyoucef (visual artist) 5) Bachir Mefti (writer and arts journalist) 6) Ahmed Cheniki (professor of theater stidies, Annaba University) 7) Fayssal Benmalek (scenographer) 8) Sarra Ghaib (cultural entrepreneur) 9) Nadjib Sellali (photojournalist) 10) Souilah Mourad (scriptwriter) 11) Sara Kharfi (arts journalist / Liberté) 12) Mohammed Belkacem El Chaieb (writer) 13) Sarah Haidar (arts journalist / Djazair News) 14) Aicha Belabid (researcher) 15) Latifa Darib (arts journalist / El Massa) 16) Ferhaoui Nour El Yakine (photojournalist) 17) Ismael Hadj Kouider (radio director) 18) Sofiane Hargous (film student) 19) Amine Idjer (arts journalist / Liberté) 20) Samy Abdelguerfi (arts journalist 2.0) 21) Farid Houda (essayist) 22) Allia Ahmed (arts journalist / Liberté) 23) Zahia Manceur (arts journalist / El Fadjr) 24) Ben Saed Kalouli (essayist) 25) Amine Bentameur (producer-director) 26) Ali Ait Djoudi (songwriter) 27) Moula Nourdine (cultural coordinator) 28) Fateh Boulaacheb (arts journalist / EchChahed) 29) Wassyla Tamzali (writer and essayist) 30) Karima Smaali (student french litterature) 31) Naïma Kaddour (image editor / Magnum Photos) 32) Belaid Bitar (curator) 33) Ismahane Amoura (architect geographer) 34) Farid Sahel (design manager – communication system) 35) Abd El Aali Mesghiche (poet and arts journalist) 36) Rachid Titouah (translator) 37) Hayet Sertah (arts journalist / El Fadjr) 38) Mohamed Ouanezar (arts journalist) 39) Hana Menasria (arts journalist / Liberté) 40) Nachida Kouadri (arts journalist / El Chorouk el Yaoumi) 41) Salim Betka (professor, Biskra University) 42) Nadir Iddir (arts journalist / El Watan) 43) Faten Hayed (arts journalist / El Watan) 44) Farouk Zahi (senior) 45) Shanez Kechroud (consultant) 46) Larbi Rabdi (researcher, publication director)