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Algerian Aggressiveness ; Factors & Drivers (research)

Algerian Social aggressiveness, including hostility and violence, can manifest itself in different ways. It might be expressed through physical aggression or behaviors (emotions, language) all of which can have detrimental effects on the individual and collective well-being of society. In Algerian society, various forms of aggression are directed towards oneself or the other, and their consequences are far-reaching. These forms of aggression can undermine the well-being and stability of citizens, as well as the individual and collective development of the country. Aggressiveness is explained by various factors that have affected the Algerian population throughout history and in the present. Some of these factors are colonialism, civil war, oppression, and natural disasters.

Algerian Aggressiveness & Colonialism

Algeria has a long history of colonialism and invasions. Various countries such as Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Portuguese, Spanish, Turks, and French have invaded or colonized the country. These invasions have left their mark on the population, resulting in a mixture of linguistic, social, and cultural sequels. The French era (1830-1962) is particularly important to mention if we are to account for the hypotheses that colonialism has impacted Algerian society. 

During the colonial period, crimes and injustices were committed openly. Franco-Algerian history, rooted in 132 years of occupation, is woven with quantifiable colonial violence, dispossession, disappearance, and mutilation among other atrocities. The trauma of this period is discussed by psychoanalysts who say that the contemporary psychological and political effects of colonial oppression in Algeria seriously impacted the community as the trans-generational transmission of colonial trauma is anchored in society. More than 50 years after the end of French colonization in Algeria, Karima Lazali assumes that the traumas of this period remain deeply rooted and current and descendants suffer the consequences of the mechanisms of atrocities imposed by colonization.
Three decades after independence, Algeria entered an internal cycle of violence. A civil war broke out in the country after the military canceled the 1991 parliamentary elections, which was perceived as a denial of the democratic process and sparked violent appraisals from Islamist factions.

Algerian Aggressiveness & The Black Decade

The civil war of the 1990s, known as (the Black Decade), resulted in extensive violence and trauma, which may have exacerbated aggressiveness since large killings and attacks on people and property were carried out. Benjamin Stora, a French historian, argues that the conflict was a struggle among Algerians themselves over the nature of their state and national identity. I think that this period is critical for understanding why violence and aggressiveness, as prevalent behaviors, are ingrained in Algerian culture as a result of collective suffering and trauma imposed on all levels of society.

caused the deaths of 100,000 people, more than 200,000 injuries, and the displacement of tens of thousands of people who sought exile. It also resulted in the destruction of dozens of schools.

Algeria’s civil war still weighs heavily on the nation as the resulting traumas inflicted upon the victims are profound and destabilizing to the affected community. The perpetration of atrocities was characterized by execution, torture, rape, kidnapping, murder, abduction, and assault. Furthermore, law enforcement has abused thousands of families, suspecting them of being terrorists or helping them. Today, survivors and human rights activists are perplexed as to why the military forces, often present in localities, hesitated to intervene during tragedies like “Bentalha”.

As a result, serious questions concerning the genuine perpetrators of the crimes have emerged, such as whether they were carried out by Islamist organizations or by clandestine death squads linked to the regular army. In Algeria, the question of “who was killing who” remains unanswered.  However, colonialism and civil war factors alone may not be sufficient to explain the panic and fear that can lead to new trauma.

Algerian Aggressiveness & Political Repression

The combination of terrorist and law enforcement violence in Algeria has resulted in a collective psychopathology within society. This has caused psychological trauma, leading to increased violence and hostility. The situation worsened with the emergence of the (Hirak movement) in 2019, leading to violations of fundamental rights and arbitrary arrests of activists. Nearly a thousand people have been prosecuted for expressing dissent on social media or participating in the movement.

FILE – Former Algerian Defense Minister and retired Gen. Khaled Nezzar smiles as he answers reporters at the Paris courthouse Monday, July 1, 2002. Swiss federal prosecutors said Tuesday they have indicted a former Algerian defense minister, now aged 85 and reportedly “on his deathbed,” for his alleged role in crimes against humanity during the North African country’s insurrection some three decades ago. (AP Photo/Amel Pain, File)

 Hirak: Another Turn of the Screw

It is important to recognize that recourse to coercion and authoritarianism has aggravated the psychological well-being of the Algerian society. Oppression of protesters “Hirakists”, peaceful activists, who proclaimed political, social, and economic reforms led to frustration and anger among the population.

During and after the nonviolent protests of 2019, known as “Hirak”, political repression in Algeria has been on the rise. The authorities have decided to put an end to the marches by activating several repressive levers including arbitrary arrests, false allegations, and mock trials. Nearly two years after the start of the “Hirak”, the protests have stopped but convictions continue to pursue activists, journalists, and human rights defenders as nearly 270 activists were put in jail. In fact, no category of the population has escaped: animators, leaders, protesters, dissident internet users, supporters of detainees, No one is safe. Activists were falsely accused of creating electronic accounts dedicated to the dissemination of information, despite the right to freedom of expression being enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Hundreds of militants were incarcerated for allegedly provoking “segregation and hatred” in society, deliberately “spreading false information” that could undermine public order, and using various means to “jeopardize national security and unity”. Worse, activists were claimed to have died in prison as a result of a Facebook post.

Although the “Hirak” has never left Algerians’ minds, it is apparent that this peaceful movement has little possibility of resurfacing, at least in the near run, due to the limits imposed by the military-political system. One of the main reasons is that Algerians are afraid to plunge into another cycle of violence similar to that of the 1990s. The political and military powers have tried to divide, demonize, and discredit the “Hirak” by launching a propaganda campaign to undermine the peaceful protest movement that seeks to bring about political change in Algeria. For this aim, the regime and its oriented media, invoke the specter of the “Black Decade” of the 1990s, when Algeria was plunged into a bloody civil war. This argument is flawed as it overlooks the “Hirak” as a positive force for change that promotes democracy, human rights, and social justice in Algeria.

Natural Disasters: A Trauma for the Population

Natural disasters like floods and earthquakes have added to the trauma of colonialism and political oppression. Such disasters have traumatized the Algerian people and are etched in their memory: the floods of 2001, the earthquake of 2003, and the forest fires of 2021-2022-2023. The Algerian people have experienced severe natural disasters that have left deep scars on society. For example, the rainfall that occurred on November 9-10, 2001, was severe but not exceptional in intensity. Despite this, the event resulted in significant human losses with 781 deaths and 115 missing people. Today, Algerians acknowledge that living through a flood leaves marks on victims. Even heavy rain can be dangerous due to the fear of death, loss of households, and residents, or simply being swept away by the current. In addition, Algeria has also experienced frequent earthquakes due to its location on a significant seismic fault. The country underwent a deadly earthquake when El Asnam (renamed Chief) vanished off the map after a 7.3 Richter scale earthquake killed 5,000 people. On May 21, 2003, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck northwest Algeria, killing 2,270 people, injuring more than 10,000, and leaving 150,000 homeless. Any witness to such an occurrence may develop post-traumatic symptoms. Survivors of these disasters have expressed anguish because sinister families were amassed in camps that later turned into ghettos where the victims languished for years.

In Algeria, each summer brings back the fear of forest fires. As fires have already broken out in the east of the country and only one water bomber has been called in for the summer, Algerians from areas devastated by successive deadly fires (Grand Kabylia) fear the worst. It is indeed a concerning situation when fires are started intentionally with the goal of causing widespread destruction and overwhelming the state’s ability to respond. The scale of the task facing those fighting the fires can be enormous, especially when they threaten entire villages and cover vast areas of forest. It should be mentioned that Grande Kabylia experiences devastating fires annually, raising concerns about Algerian leaders’ intentionally ignited fires for conspiratorial narratives. The ultimate goal may not just be to terrorize citizens but to create a situation of generalized instability in the country.

The perpetrators of the devastating wildfires that ravaged Algeria, at least in 2021- 2022- 2023, have not been held accountable by the authorities, nor have they been prevented from causing more damage. This includes the horrific lynching of Djamel Ben Smail, a young volunteer who joined the efforts to extinguish the flames in Kabylia. He was savagely attacked by a group of people who falsely accused him of being an arsonist. His death has shaken the nation and revealed the deep scars of a society in crisis. The destruction of the natural environment has exacerbated the despair of those who have lost their relatives and sources of income in the fires. In small towns and villages, grief and anger are palpable.

Aggressiveness is a complex phenomenon influenced by many factors. In this essay, we explored how colonialism, civil war, oppression, and natural disasters affected the Algerian population. These factors can be primary sources of anger, resentment, frustration, trauma, and desperation that can lead to aggressive behavior. However, other factors can moderate or prevent aggression, such as the promotion of cultural values, social support, education, and peaceful cohabitation.

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Algerian Aggressiveness

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