A US State Department report on human rights has sparked discussions in Algeria, after delving into records that many consider taboo in the country.
Washington went out of its way when its annual freedoms report addressed Jewish and gay issues in Algeria, remarkably, where it criticized the criminalization of public obscenity and same-sex relations by adult men and women. consenting, as well as laws and penalties that include imprisonment and a fine for anyone found guilty of committing a homosexual act.
In an attempt to draw support from LGBT people, the report noted that LGBT people faced discrimination in access to health services, and that NGOs reported that employers refused to hire them, especially women. men perceived as effeminate, and pointed out that hostility against them was increasing. and usually comes from the younger generation, often pursued and bullied, and sometimes the harassment escalates into physical violence.
With respect to the Jewish record, the US State Department pointed out that the community faces unofficial barriers based on religion, government employment, and administrative difficulties with government bureaucracy when worked, and that the Algerians were hostile to the Jews.
Push to open chat
Commenting on the American interest in these files, the human rights lawyer, Suleiman Sharqi, considers that the report serves as an incentive for an open discussion with the officials as well as with society on issues considered in Algeria as taboos that are difficult to penetrate, such as normalization and homosexuality. The Palestinian Authority is an element of consensus, and normalization is totally rejected, as are issues related to so-called gay rights.
Sharqi said, in response to a question about this growing US approach, “Perhaps US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to Algeria coincided with the release of dozens of political activists and activists, which has gave the impression to the Americans that a breakthrough had taken place with other issues, and they focused on that. Although this is a complete mistake, because our policy is anti-Zionist, not anti-Jewish.”
Pressure on non-allies
For his part, the UN human rights defender, Mohamed Khedir, says that what was mentioned in the report is repeated every year, and that the US State Department is known for its reports aimed at put pressure on non-allied countries, especially this time. , because Algeria’s position on the Ukrainian crisis is not well received by Americans, and therefore its content The report is not surprising.
Regarding the anti-Jews, Khedir continues: “The Algerian people are not hostile to the Jews. It is a mistake. On the contrary, he is hostile to Zionism, and there is a big difference between this and that, but they deliberately confuse the two things. adding that Washington is hardening Algeria because of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and that it is sending messages of discontent, the report is only a means of pressure.
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History of the Jews
The history of the Jews in Algeria is part of their history in North Africa, and perhaps the most important period which saw a large Jewish presence in the region, is the 15th century AD with the fall of Andalusia and the subsequent Spanish persecution of the Jews. , who preferred to settle in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, then the period of French colonialism, that he adopted a policy of attracting Jews and Europeans to settle in Algeria, because in 1870 they have obtained French nationality.
In this context, the Israeli Central Department of Statistics reported figures for Jews who left Algeria for Israel, from 1948 to 2014, and their total number is 29,156 Jews, and the peak of departure from 1961 to 1971 , about 13,000 Jews, while the lowest number recorded in a year in 2013, 285 Jews, and three times that number, or 782 Jews, in 2014 left Algeria without returning. Despite the sensitivity of things, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced in 2014 the reopening of synagogues for the remaining number of them in Algeria, and said that Algeria remembers With the principles of the Republic and its constitution, which authorizes the opening of these temples if security conditions are met.
A US report on the freedom to practice religions around the world revealed that there are fewer than 200 Jews in Algeria, and indicated that some Jews feel social comfort among their Muslim neighbors.
With regard to homosexuality, sexual activity between men and women is considered illegal in Algeria and is punishable by law in accordance with article 338 of the Penal Code which states: “Anyone who commits an act of homosexuality against a person of the same sex must be punished by imprisonment of two months to two years and a fine, and if one of the culprits is a minor under the age of eighteen, the major penalty may be combined with imprisonment for three years and a fine. Article 333 also states: “Anyone who commits an act of public debauchery shall be punished with imprisonment from two months to two years and a fine with a fine.” And if the act of public fornication is a homosexual act committed against a person of the same sex, the penalty will be imprisonment for six months to three years and a fine.
Because of this situation, international organizations sought to pressure Algeria for more freedom in matters of homosexuality and demanded the abolition of article 338 of the Penal Code, but members of the judges’ union countries felt that “they are recruited to defend the sanctity of homosexuality”. Algerians and national laws and to confront anyone who wants to dismantle Algerian society. And he hit his values in the name of human rights, and said that Algerian society is Muslim and conservative and has its own peculiarities, and the laws cannot be changed. with articles that do not correspond to the particularities of all the components of Algerian society.
On the other hand, the “Alwan” association, the official representative of homosexuality in Algeria, considers that the fight against discrimination against Algerian gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people is one of the main objectives for which she works hard, noting that the Algerian community The Penal Code condemns all homosexual practice through articles 333 and 338 bis, and adds that in the past, no one dared to talk about this subject, which is considered a major taboo in Algeria, even by LGBT people themselves.