In Algeria, as in many non-democratic countries – the bulk of the news of the official mass media is made up of the faits et gestes of the officials, president, ministers and walis, whose visits, meetings and inaugurations are heavily covered by the media as if they were acts of generosity.
The show has become slightly different since the beginning of the people’s uprising. Ministers have been chased out of the infrastructures they supposedly have come to visit or inaugurate. The former wali of the capital had to run from the Casbah. The opening of the new airport in Algiers has not been announced before its inauguration and it has nearly been censored by the media because of the absence of the inaugurator.
For the very first time in history of post-independent Algeria, the inauguration of a crucial economic project such as the new terminal of Algiers International Airport has escaped notice, and probably, no commemorative plaque has been placed. If the event has not been reluctantly relegated to the category of non-events by the decision makers, it needs to be spotlighted because of what it represents for the Algerian people. It is a democratic achievement which has been preceded by others and will surely be followed by others. The press reported the news by using the passive voice despite the presence of the minister of transport.
The use of the passive voice aims to focus on the action rather than on the doer of the action. It is used when we do not know the performer of the action or when we do not wish to mention him. In the case of the new terminal, the expected doer of the action, the inaugurator to be specific, has been removed by his people hence the focus on the inauguration not on the inaugurator. The scandal and the frustration will be bigger when the Grand Mosque will be inaugurated anonymously and secretly. Indeed, people have already started complaining for the conversion of this costly project into a hospital. It was intended to be a wonderful project or rather a grand achievement of the former president and an illustration of his megalomania.
The mosque is so gigantesque that the worshippers of the first rank will likely be praying the Fajr while those in the last rank will be praying the Isha. The mosque can receive up to 120, 000 worshippers. One wonders whether the new terminal has been equipped with a place for praying which does not exist in the other one where people are compelled to pray on the bare ground. In Gatwick and Heathrow, there a ‘faith rooms’ for praying and the new library in Birmingham and the Grand Central (station) also have their faith rooms or contemplation rooms where Muslims, Christians, Jews or whichever religion they belong to can pray.
In UK and in the democratic world, inaugurations are not solemn, and commemorative plaques do not uglify the landscape. Inaugurators belong in the domain of science, computing, economy, architecture etc., and aim at bettering the human condition while inaugurators in the dwarfish world seek to enslave their people and rot their brain. Billions of dollars are embezzled for a mere moment of inauguration which glorifies the inaugurator at the expense of the people.
No Fakhamatu, no Maali al wazir and no more protocol can be afforded in the new Algeria. As already said, the ministers tiptoe and cannot afford a walkabout anymore. It is high time the rulers learn to serve the people and the country not their ego.