In Algeria, police flood streets to prevent Egypt-style revolution
Egypt's revolutionary fervor has spread to Algeria, but protesters calling for the government's ouster were outnumbered three to one by police on Saturday.
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A group of about 50 of the many women present – a few young women in hijab, many other young women in jeans, older, seasoned feminist activists wearing khaffiyehs and dresses – took up position next to the bus station at 1st of May Square holding a large Algerian flag. One of these women, prominent psychologist Cherifa Bouatta, told me on Friday as we watched the celebration in Cairo:
"I have been waiting for this for years. This is the beginning. From the years of terrorism [the 1990s] and what came after, everything seemed lost. Our hopes for a just society were dying. But now the possibilities are fantastic."
Ms. Bennoune adds that "the most surreal moment came as I watched the unyielding female activists attacked by a group of young policewomen in pants and boots – their own career paths only imaginable thanks to the hard work of some of the very women activists they hit and shoved. ... The women protesters' only 'crime' had been to stand peacefully on the sidewalk of their own capital city singing the national anthem and calling for democracy."
Amid the protests, there were conflicting reports as to whether the Algerian government cut off Internet access, a tactic that Mubarak's government used in Egypt to try to quell protests without success.
Under the headline "Algeria shuts down internet and Facebook as protest mounts," The Daily Telegraph writes that Rachid Salem of Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria said, "The government doesn't want us forming crowds through the internet. Security forces are armed to the teeth out on the street, and they're also doing everything to crush our uprising on the internet."
But on the blog of Internet monitoring company Renesys, James Cowie writes that there's little evidence to back claims of an Algerian Internet cutoff.
Mr. Cowie writes that "Algeria typically has about 135 routed network prefixes in the global routing table, and our data show that they are all still routed and relatively stable. Traceroutes inbound confirm that sites hosted in these prefixes are still alive, and spot checks of websites hosted in Algeria show that most are up and functioning normally."
Cowie notes, however, that there may be blockages within Algeria that are not detectable outside the country.
IN PICTURES: Exclusive Monitor photos of Egypt's turmoil