Algeria: Berber Blowout Building

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September 25, 2005: The government believes there are only a few small groups of GSPC Islamic terrorists still active, amounting to a few hundred men, at most. What is more worrisome is the growth of Berber nationalism. The Berbers, a people related to the ancient Egyptians, were the original occupants of Algeria. Arab armies conquered the country over a thousand years ago, but, unlike other Arab conquests, most Berbers did not adopt Arab language and customs. Today, about a third of Algerians are Berbers, and speak the Berber language, Tamazight. There has always been tension between Berbers and Arabs, and now Berbers are demanding that their language be made one of Algeria's official languages. The Arab dominated government refuses to consider this. So far, Berber violence has been in the form of rowdy demonstrations. But the Berber radicals could escalate to guns and bombs.

 

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