Algeria's Berbers Stage Anti-Government Protest
Several thousand people staged a protest march Thursday in Algeria's northeastern city of Bejaia against what they claim is oppression by the government of ethnic Berbers, witnesses said.
The marchers, who wound through the city center under a blazing sun, carried placards denouncing "repression" by the security forces during weeks of riots mainly in the Berber homeland of Kabylie between late April and early June.
They later staged a rally in the center of Bejaia, some 250 kilometers (154 miles) east of Algiers, where after they dispersed without incident, witnesses told AFP.
Riots first broke out in Kabylie after the death in police custody of a Berber youth on April 18.
During weeks of riots, the Berbers, who have long resented perceived cultural discrimination, have demanded that the national police, the gendarmerie, leave the region, but the authorities have refused.
Berbers and other indigenous north African communities make up about a third of Algeria's population of 31 million, which daily contends with housing shortages, a declining standard of living and an unemployment rate of 30 percent.
The Berber unrest has found an echo among impoverished mainstream Arab Algerians, who have taken to the streets in the hundreds of thousands in several towns outside Kabylie – Albawaba.com
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