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Updated May 27, 2020
Hirak Activist
Ibrahim Daouadji (c), a Hirak movement activist, speaks to the media upon his release from El Harrach, the main prison in the capital Algiers, on May 18, 2020. Daouadji, who in April was sentenced to six months in prison, appeared before the court on May 17 on the charge of “incitement to unarmed assembly” and was given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

 

During Eid al-Fitr, the religious holiday celebrated by Muslims at the end of the month-long Ramadan, the Algerian popular protest movement Hirak took to the streets again despite the ban on large gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Photos and videos were shared on social media of protesters marching in the city of Sétif on Sunday in support of political prisoners, several dozen of whom are still held in detention despite the aggravated risk of contracting the virus in prison.

Hirak activists and supporters have accused the Algerian government of using the COVID-19 lockdown to suppress the movement, stifle speech critical of the government, and subject organizers to arbitrary arrests.

 

Returning to Where It Started

On Monday, a protest march was held in Kherrata, the northern town where the first Hirak march took place on February 16, 2019, against the candidacy for a fifth term of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. This kicked off a wave of protests that led to his resignation. Abdelmadjid Tebboune won the presidential election and assumed office in December.

The movement has continued, calling for an end to corruption, the removal of the political old guard, and a complete overhaul of the political system. 

 

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