Rabat – Abdel Tebboune, the Prime Minister of Algeria has denied racism by his countrymen against Sub-Saharan African migrants. Abdelmajid said his people are not racist.
Tebboune addressed the issue during a discussion on Friday at the National Popular Assembly (lower house of Algerian Parliament).
“On social media there are some calls to expel Sub-Saharan refugees,as if we [Algerians] were racist,” he said. The Prime Minister countered this, saying “we are not racist. Algeria is committed to open its doors for African and Arab refugees in line with our traditions of hospitality.”
The Twitter hashtag“#??_????????_??_???????“ (No to African immigrants in Algeria) that surfaced on a few days ago called for the expulsion of these refugees.
— nana dziriya (@nana_dziriya) June 20, 2017
While these calls have been denounced by Tebboun and many Algerians online, Algerian authorities have recently acted seemingly in accordance with this hashtag.
#لا_للافارقه_في_الجزاير this is disgraceful Algeria is large enough to help and welcome all the African refugees.
— This.is.the.1 (@radmou30) June 20, 2017
In December 2016, the Algerian government was criticized after a massive wave of arrests and deportations of Sub-Saharan migrants. Human Rights Watch denounced the “summary” deportations, calling on the Algerian government to halt the operation.
“A mass and summary deportation of migrants, including men and women who may have fled persecution or have worked for years in Algeria, would violate their rights,” said HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson.
“The right of a country to control its borders is not a license for lawlessness.”
French language media both in Algeria and abroad described the “shameful” massive operation targeting the immigrants as “the chase of the black man”.
1,400 immigrants were tracked down by forces and shoved into buses that took them to Tamenrasset in the Algerian desert before they were their deported.
“If the reputation of Sub-Saharan Africa has long been built on its animal safaris where tourists from the North came to chase exotic animals, Algeria seems to have turned into a master in the game ofthe hunt of prey – also from Sub-Saharan Africa – but of humans”, remarked Jeune Afrique.
The well-known French language magazine pointed out that the Sub-Saharan man-hunt was not the first in Algeria. In August 2016, around 400 immigrants from Mali were targeted.
Some Algerian media outlets started spreading conspiracy theories about a ”secret French and Zionist plot” to undermine Algeria’ security through pushing a large number of Sub-Saharan migrants into the country.
— Houda????Hadou (@Houda__Hadou) June 20, 2017
In another shocking accusation, Farid Ksentini, head of a state body in charge of promoting human rights, said Sub-Saharan migrants are responsible for the spread of HIV in Algeria.
Sub Saharan are not the only group of migrants apparently facing a hard time in Algeria.
In April 2017, Morocco accused Algeria of expelling 55 Syrian refugees into Moroccan territories. Algeria denied the accusations, but was unable to provide another version of the incident. This echoes 2014 when Algerian authorities pushed Syrian refugees into Moroccan soil twice, in January and March.