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Algeria Recalls France Envoy over Films on Protests

Algeria Recalls France Envoy over Films on Protests

Thursday, 28 May, 2020 - 04:30
People protest against president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plan to extend his 20-year rule by seeking a fifth term in April elections, in Algiers downtown, Algeria, March 3, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Algeria said Wednesday it would "immediately" recall its ambassador from France for consultations after documentaries about the ‘Hirak’ protest movement were aired on French public television.

The interior ministry said the films while "seemingly spontaneous and under the pretext of freedom of expression, are in fact attacks on the Algerian people and its institutions" including the army.

Citing the "recurrent character" of such programs on French public TV, it singled out two documentaries broadcast on Tuesday by France 5 and the Parliamentary Channel.

The films cited by the Algerian ministry had sparked fierce debates on social media.

"Algeria, my love", aired by France 5, told the story of the protest movement through the eyes of five Algerians in their 20s from across the country.

Directed by French journalist of Algerian origin Mustapha Kessous, it broke with a number of taboos and highlighted sociocultural divisions driving the movement, triggering heated discussion on social networks.

The second film, "Algeria: the Promises of the Dawn" was broadcast on France's Parliamentary Channel.

In its statement, the Algerian ministry cited what it said were "malicious and lasting intentions on the part of certain circles, which do not wish to see peaceful relations between Algeria and France after 58 years of independence".

Unprecedented mass protests rocked Algeria early last year to demand the departure of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, sparked by the ailing 82-year-old's announcement that he would stand for a fifth term.

In April 2019 he resigned, and in December, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected. Mass protests against the ruling system only halted when the novel coronavirus arrived in Algeria earlier this year.

Despite the movement suspending demonstrations since mid-March, a crackdown has continued against regime opponents and independent media.

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