In its quest of demonizing the pro-democracy protests, the regime has been acting on two fronts: through the arrest of activists on arbitrary, vague charges meant to generate a climate of fear, and, through pseudo-intellectuals, journalists, on the junta’s payroll, who spread all sorts of theories of a foreign agenda.
اليد الخارجية or the foreign hand appears to be making a strong comeback this spring, not that it ever really left. The expression used by members of the military junta refers to a supposed foreign interference that is alleged to have infiltrated the Hirak. Allegations that are never substantiated.
Abdelmadjid Tebboune had set the tone not long before the campaign intensified. In an interview broadcast on state TV, Abdelmadjid alleged that jailed journalist Khaled Drareni was an informant for foreign countries, citing visits to embassies as evidence. Something that is in fact far from being acceptable evidence.
Not only had Abdelmadjid spewed out nonsense on live television, but he had also confirmed that himself, and his entourage, were the prosecutors, the judges and the jury calling the shots in cases that should only be relevant to the judiciary. In any respectable country, such a statement could easily amount to contempt of court, given that Drareni hasn’ been found guilty of anything.
One spreader of such disinformation is the minister of communication himself: Amar Belhimer. A former journalist who u-turned and started backing the regime upon being offered a ministerial appointment. During an interview, the minister alleged that “the hirak is parasitized by political currents“, although without expanding on the subject or providing any form of evidence.
Appearing in late May on the state TV, another self-proclaimed intellectual, Mohamed Lakhdar Maougal, also alleged that the protests were “infiltrated“, adding “first you have to ask where it comes from. The Hirak started on February 22 after a meeting in Paris” organised by Al Magharibia, an exiled TV channel. Yet another far-fetched claim with no basis in reality.
Some went even further in their attempts at discrediting the activists. Ahmed Bensaada is one of those. In a book titled “Who are these self-proclaimed tenors of the Algerian Hirak?“, Ahmed Bensaada, a Canadian resident since 1989, criticizes the political detainees, asserting that Hirak figures are financed by “foreign entities“, that they are “manipulated” by international NGOs. Again without providing much evidence.
The book was and is currently being widely publicized as an “investigative book” by media aligned with the regime’s official narrative and the official press agency, the APS. In reality, the book does not provide any credible evidence, uses mainly far-fetched circumstantial evidence to back its claims.
Most often, these regime-backed, self-proclaimed intellectuals labelled as “professors”, “doctors” etc., target the lower uneducated social classes that lack critical thinking skills.
In many ways the regime remains loyal to its DNA, which is to say, belittling Algerians as an easily manipulated crowd, as an immature population. Such an approach is used to benefit the regime twofold: beyond manipulating uneducated segments of society, it seeks to portray the Hirak to the international community as some sort of rogue operation orchestrated by either international NGOs or Islamists.
Will the Hirak be affected by these desperate types of maneuvers? Very much unlikely.