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Maghreb Matters: Algeria Mulling Joint Bid with Tunisia and Morocco for 2030 World Cup; Media under Pressure to Conform to Survive; and Women Seek to Break some Glass – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader
August 3, 2018

Jean R. AbiNader, Moroccan American Center

Jean R. AbiNader, Moroccan American Center

Well, this may not be the way the Western Sahara conflict is resolved, but it could be a start. Recently, the Algerian Sports Minister Mohamed Hattab told reporters that Algeria, which has at times been at odds with its neighbor Morocco – notably over the Western Sahara issue – would “study the possible candidacy of the Maghreb countries for the organization of the World Cup,” according to a story in Aljazeera.com.

Algeria supported Morocco’s bid for the 2026 World Cup and feels that existing relations are sufficient to make a bid a reality. “When we look at our cities, with the sporting and culture facilities present, we are able to consider that we can host major world events,” he said. King Mohammed VI has already indicated that Morocco is interested in a 2030 bid.

An announcement of a competitive bid from a joint Uruguay-Argentina-Paraguay bid was aired last year to commemorate the event’s centenary – “first held in Uruguay in 1930 and that saw the host nation claim the coveted trophy.” Yet one cannot rule out the novelty of a Maghrebi bid. The fact that it is even considered is quite significant and may be the formula that helps Morocco overcome the noted deficiencies in its 2026 due to lack of the required infrastructure.

Maybe they’ll even host matches in the Sahara…if the Koreas can do it…

 

A cloudy future ahead for Algerian media in the absence of regulations, economic conditions, and organizations that protect and nourish a vibrant media is the subject of an article in Fikra Forum. Beginning with the laws promulgated in light of tensions at the time of the Arab Spring, author Ahmed Marwane points out that “The state of journalism in the country has not improved much since, as reforms did not eliminate harsh restrictions on freedoms of the press, and financial burdens have forced several media outlets to close down.”

In particular, he notes how opaque and limiting the licensing procedures are for both broadcast and print media. Regarding earlier promised reforms, he notes, “Nevertheless, in practice, obtaining a broadcasting license in Algeria is still impossible: although the government had announced that it would begin examining applications in October 2017, not a single license has been granted to date, and all but five satellite channels are still operating illegally.”

The print media finds itself in a similar situation as its economic base has been greatly affected by the decrease in government advertising. He concludes ”The state must allow newspapers and media institutions to operate in a free market system so that they can reap advertising revenues based on their reach and consumer appeal. Media institutions must also be required to contribute their share by paying their employees appropriate salaries and allocating a portion of revenues for training and performance improvement programs. Only by injecting revenue back into the media sector will Algerian journalism be shielded from further deterioration.”

While this is a concern voiced about Arab media in general, it is more onerous in Algeria where the media that remains is often a tool of the regime to maintain messages of political and business elites.

For an interview with Dalia Ghanem-Yezbeck on her article Limiting Change Through Change: The Key to the Algerian Regime’s Longevity, published by the Carnegie Institute Beirut office, see this link. She speaks about the lack of accountability of the military, which is at the center of power in the country, and how Algeria’s media and civil society have been unable to act as a bridge between the people and the leadership.

 

In a related article on the status of women in Algeria, Ghanem-Yezbeck recounts several stories of Algerian females being harassed for being outside the home without male guardians. “While women have access to public spaces, often they do not participate in them, but only cross them. Such access remains controlled, restricted, and conditional, having to be justified in one way or another. Education or work is seen as a legitimate reason for women to go out into the city, whereas jogging or going to the beach still invites reactions of intolerance.”

Despite claims of progress related to the status of women, the reality is much different, in law and in practice. “Algerian family law—established in 1984 and amended in 2005—embodies the unequal status of women…Women require male approval to get married, which is usually provided by a father or brother. The family code is the legal expression of a patriarchal ideology that survives in Algeria. It is also proof of the resilience of a system that prevents women from even becoming full-fledged members of their own family.”

Unlike its neighbors Morocco and Tunisia, Algeria remains frozen in time regarding the role of women. Yes, they can serve selectively in the military, parliament, and sports; have careers in fields like education and health, but beyond those sectors, life is challenging for women who want fuller roles in society.

Education is equipping Algerian women for much more. “From the secondary school level onward, the number of females is much higher than that of males. This phenomenon is also evident in universities, where females outnumber males, as their success rate in the Baccalaureate exam is much higher—65 percent for females compared to 35 percent for males in 2017.” So the future is quite unclear as to if and how women will play a more integrated role in the country.

As the article concludes, “Algeria’s patriarchal system is being sustained by the creation of public spaces in which women are made to feel that their presence is an anomaly. But it goes beyond that. The resilience of the country’s patriarchal reflexes—which also happen to be those of a political elite both too old and too male-dominated that greatly defines social and political life—is also hindering Algerian women’s full access to their individuality, therefore denying them their rights as citizens.”

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