Friday 31 January was the Hirak’s 50th Friday demonstration which is already being called the Hirak Jubilee. The turnout may have been marginally smaller which was possibly because some people were deterred from coming onto the street following the regime’s allegation that there was a terrorist bomb plot against the Hirak. What has become clear over the six weeks since the election, however, is that — while Hirak numbers may be down for reasons explained by Algeria Politics & Security – 24.01.20— the determination of the Hirak is as strong as ever.
The weekly Hirak Friday marches and the students’ Tuesday marches are not only determined but they send very specific and direct messages and ideas to the authorities and the country as a whole. Recent Hirak and student marches were particularly significant in that they had both not only picked up on President Abdelmajid Tebboune’s statements a short while earlier — which he had spoken positively about resuming shale gas — but their rejection of shale gas exploration was their main ‘message of the day’. The predominant banner headline was ‘No to shale gas’, while the most commonly chanted slogans were: ‘The Sahara is not for sale’ and ‘What a shame, they sold the Sahara for dollars.’ Indeed, this message — threatening nationwide resistance and opposition to shale gas development — could be worrying for those IOCs who may be thinking of partnering with Sonatrach in this venture.