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In Algeria, the Annaba court acquits a demonstrator who waved the Amazigh flag
Protesters waving the Algerian and Berber flags, Algiers, June 21, 2019. Ramzi Boudina / REUTERS

Arrested on 5 July in Annaba, in eastern Algeria, for having waved a Berber flag during a demonstration on Friday, Nadir Fetissi, 41, was risking big: the prosecutor had he was sentenced to ten years in prison for "attacking the national unity". Annaba's court therefore caused surprise and general relief by pronouncing, on Thursday, August 8, the acquittal of Nadir Fetissi, "With the return of the two Amazigh flags" according to his lawyer, quoted by the daily newspaper El Watan.

For some, it is a concern for appeasement that has prevailed, while the "commission of dialogue" set up by the government tries hard to engage in its work. Karim Younes, former president of the National Assembly, now the head of this body, had criticized the legitimacy of the territory. He hastened to greet the verdict. For others, the Annaba court has mostly inflicted a snub to power and its "battle of flags." The decision signals a return to the law: the jurists have not ceased to remind that there is no text prohibiting the brandishing of another flag than the national emblem.

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Since the beginning of the peaceful protest movement, on February 22, the Algerians have become accustomed to wearing, in addition to the national flag, the Berber, Palestinian and sometimes Sudanese emblems during rallies. . This diversity has not aroused any animosity among the protesters. This "Battle of the Flags" was launched by the government on June 19, during a speech by the Chief of Staff of the Army, Ahmed Gaà¢ à ¢ â,¬Å¡ÃƒÂ ¢ à ¢ â,¬Å¡Ãƒâ € | ¯d Salah, accusing those who brandish the Berber people of wanting "Infiltrate the demonstrations".

More than 35 people arrested

 € œAlgeria has only one flag, for which millions of martyrs have died. It has only one emblem, which represents its sovereignty, its independence and its territorial and popular integrity. "assured the new strongman of the country. He announced in the wake that instructions had been given "To the security forces for the firm and precise application of the laws in force and to counter all those who would try again to touch the feelings of the Algerians in this sensitive question".

Read also In Algeria, only the Algerian flag will be tolerated in the demonstrations

Opponents have accused the power of seeking to divide the protest movement by playing on identity cleavages. The charge of the chief of the army created strong tensions during the demonstrations of Friday, the forces of the order tracking without moving those who brandize the emblems Berber. More than 35 people, including one woman, were arrested and placed on pretrial deten- tion. They are considered by the opposition as "Held to opinion". Two people were tried and sentenced to suspended prison terms.

The acquittal pronounced Thursday in Annaba, a first, was greeted with joy on social networks, where however it is recalled that dozens of detainees will pass the A� El-Kebir, Sunday, behind the bars.

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