A protester signals ‘No Fourth term’ for President Bouteflika

I have to admit to having no idea who ‘Boutef’ was before getting an invitation on Facebook to cover a protest at the Algerian embassy. Nor for that matter did I know where the Algerian embassy was, though I recognised the address on the Facebook page as being just around the corner from the BBC.

In case you are as ignorant as me, Abdelaziz Bouteflika is the President of Algeria and has been so since 1999, with constitutional amendments allowing him to stand for a third term in 2009 and again to stand for a fourth term from 2014.

Six days after this London protest he was re-elected, having gained 81% of the votes in an election in which slightly over half of those eligible voted. Opposition parties boycotted the vote amid allegations of fraud and the rigging of the whole system, particularly through state-run TV and radio.

There were widespread protests in Algeria in 2010-12 during the ‘Arab Spring’ but these were at first heavily suppressed and then largely bought off by decreases in basic food prices and led to no real change.  Protest remains illegal in Algeria.

This part of Riding House Street is gloomy and narrow, with high buildings on both sides, and it is easy to miss the Algerian embassy. The protest was in the street outside, with people occasionally having to clear the road for a car to pass by, but there was little traffic and it was all slow-moving, inconvenient rather than dangerous, but it did perhaps inhibit the protest.

My biggest problem was with the various masks that people had brought along and wore or held. I’m poor on recognition skills of UK politicians (quite a few Conservative ministers seem rather lacking in character) but totally out of my depth when it comes to Algerians.

At least these facial images were largely clear and well-produced, unlike so many used in protests, where considerable post-processing is often needed to make them look even vaguely human.  But as to who they were pictures of, I had to admit defeat.

Usually when I have problems over the identity of people I turn to Google. It’s usually great when I’ve a name written down but am unsure of the spelling or if I’m not quite sure who was who. I can search for names and for images to find out who it was that I photographed.

But on this occasion, checking on Google images when writing the story simply made me more confused. I hope I got what captions I did add correct, but there were some I just could not identify.

One thing I could easily identify was the Algerian flag, which many of the protesters were waving and was soon revealed on a cake.   I particularly liked the hands that all came to join in the cutting of it.

The cake created a small problem for the protesters, with it being impossible to eat through a cardboard mask, though some tried for the photographers.

And that is a bit of off-target green cream on this mask, though don’t ask me whose face it is.

Dedicated photographer that I am, I was still busily taking pictures when one of my colleagues handed me a paper plate with a very large slice of it, including a part of that light green tall creamy border and the deep green flag. At that point photography ceased while I attended to more serious matters.

More pictures at Against the Electoral Masquerade in Algeria.

I did take a few more pictures after eating the cake – including the one at the top of this post, but had to leave shortly after for another protest, conveniently just a short walk away. But it was one without cake.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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