Algeria plans gradual reopening of mosques

A volunteer sprays disinfectant at a mosque in Algiers
The country closed its places of worship when the virus hit in March

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has tasked his prime minister to look into the gradual reopening of mosques.

The president, during a meeting of the High Security Council, instructed Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to start by focusing on large mosques that have a capacity of 1,000 people.

He said the large mosques will "be able to allow the essential physical distancing with the imperative wearing of masks by all".

The prime minister will also oversee gradual reopening of public spaces, including beaches and parks, for recreation and relaxation.

Mosques, beaches and parks were closed in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Algeria has reported approximately 30,000 cases of coronavirus.

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Algeria removed from EU safe travel list

An Algerian health worker disinfects a bus stop in Algiers in March 2020
Getty Images
Algeria has reinstated a partial lockdown in some provinces

The European Union has removed Algeria from its updated list of countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the bloc during the coronavirus pandemic.

Algeria has recently experienced a resurgence in coronavirus cases, with the current total number of infections at 29,229 according to the WHO.

The EU safe list has countries considered as having a “sufficiently good epidemiological situation,” and the capacity to manage the pandemic.

Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are on the updated list.

It acts as a guideline for the bloc's member states as they seek to reopen their tourist industries.

Algeria car tycoon given 16-year prison sentence

BBC World Service

An Algerian car industry boss who became wealthy during ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's period in power has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Mahieddine Tahkout was accused of having illegally gained access to commercial markets.

His trial was the latest in a series of corruption cases brought against figures who were prominent during Mr Bouteflika's time in office.

The former president was forced to stand down last year following weeks of huge street protests across the country.

Algerian activists freed ahead of independence day

Karim Tabbou is greeted upon release

The Algerian government has provisionally released a key protest movement leader, Karim Tabbou, and three other activists ahead of the country's independence day.

He was released alongside activists Amira Bouraoui and Samir Benlarbi on Thursday.

Tabbou is one of the most prominent figure of the "Hirak" movement that forced the downfall last April of long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

He was sentenced to a one-year jail term in March for an "attack on the integrity of national territory" after a speech he made, which was posted on Facebook, criticised the role of the army in politics

Amnesty International, which lobbied for Tabbou's release, welcomed the "good news" and called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of all other "prisoners of opinion" held in Algeria.

Algerian activists had been holding weekly anti-government protests for more than a year until March when the coronavirus pandemic spread to the country.


France 'to return skulls of Algerian heroes'

BBC World Service

Algeria says France is about to return the remains of 24 fighters who were killed resisting French colonial forces in the 19th Century.

The skulls of at least some of them have been kept and displayed by a museum in Paris.

The fighters included key figures in the resistance.

Among them was Sheikh Bouzian, who was captured by the French in 1848, then shot and decapitated.

President Emmanuel Macron has said that his country’s colonisation of Algeria was a crime against humanity.

Record rise in virus cases sees Algeria keep borders shut

Ahmed Rouaba

BBC News

Algeria's borders are to remain closed "until Allah sets us free from this pandemic", President Abdelamadjid Tebboune has said.

Some 305 new infections in a 24-hour period were reported on Sunday, in a new record.

Three weeks after easing lockdown restrictions, Algeria has registered a huge surge in new infections in the province of Setif and other eastern parts of the country.

The authorities say it's because of people ignoring preventive measures, and President Tebboune has ordered severe punishments against the offenders.

To date, Algeria has recorded 13,571 cases of the virus and 905 related deaths - among the highest on the continent.

Algerian protest leader jailed

Amira Bouraoui
Getty Images
Amira Bouraoui was at the forefront of those who forced Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down last year

One of the leaders of the protests which have rocked Algeria for the past 16 months has been sentenced to a year in prison.

Amira Bouraoui, 44, was convicted on six counts, including “insulting Islam”, "insulting the president" and "incitement to violate lockdown" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Her lawyer, Mustapha Bouchachi, condemned the verdict. "This conviction is unjust, there is no evidence. We are going to appeal," he told the AFP news agency.

The gynaecologist and mother of two was arrested last Wednesday at her house.

Ms Bouraoui started to gain attention in 2014 when she unsuccessfully opposed former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's attempt to run for a fourth term in office.

Mr Bouteflika was eventually forced not to seek a fifth term in office last year following huge street protests, which Ms Bouraoui helped organise.

However, the huge protests continued until the lockdown was imposed.

Members of the "Hirak" movement such as Ms Bouraoui say that those who wield real power in the country have not changed and corruption and inequality remain rife despite the election of Abdelmadjid Tebboune as president last December.

Algeria recalls France ambassador after protest film

Algerian police disperse a protest by lawyers and journalists against their ailing president's bid for a fifth term in power, in Algiers on 7 March 2019.
Getty Images
Algerians protested against then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term

Algeria has recalled its ambassador to France in response to a documentary on the protest movement in Algeria that was broadcast on French television on Tuesday.

The Algerian foreign ministry said that the people of Algeria and the country's institutions had been attacked in the film.

Entitled Algerie Mon Amour (Algeria, My Love), the documentary focuses on the Hirak movement that has been at the heart of the anti-government protests - as well as looking at how young Algerians see their lives.

It broke with a number of taboos and highlighted sociocultural divisions driving the movement, the AFP news agency reports.

The film has already triggered a wave of criticism online from a number of Algerians.