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Anti-Government Protests Broken Up in Algeria & Yemen

February 12, 2011 by Brett Wilkins in Africa, Middle East, Protests with 0 Comments

Inspired by the recent ¬†revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, uprisings that successfully deposed long-ruling dictators, demonstrators took to the streets in Algeria and Yemen today to voice their own discontent with their rulers. In Algiers and in Sana, the countries’ respective capitals, the protesters were thwarted by security forces and by government supporters.

In Algiers, a crowd gathered in the city’s central May 1 Square and chanted “Bouteflika out!” President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has ruled Algeria as a dictator since 1999, enforcing a harsh state of emergency that dates back to the country’s civil war in the 1990s that was sparked when the military-backed government canceled elections that Islamists were set to win. More than 200,000 people died in the ensuing violence and armed Islamic groups like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb emerged as powerful forces that still wreak havoc in Algeria.

It is uncertain how many people took part in demonstrations, but the New York Times reports that there were more police than protesters present and that they soon moved in to disperse the crowd. There were dozens of arrests, with human rights groups reporting that up to 30 people remained in state custody.

Protests have been breaking out periodically in this North African country of 35 million since 2009. Algerians are angry about high unemployment, housing shortages, high food prices and the lack of political freedom.

In Yemen, on the Arabian peninsula, a small anti-government protest also broke out today in the capital city of Sana. Demonstrators celebrated the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in nearby Egypt and called for the resignation of their own home-grown dictator, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for more than 32 years. The protesters were attacked by government supporters and dispersed. The New York Times reports two light injuries and 17 arrests. Yemeni opposition leaders, dominated by Islamists, have been demonstrating weekly for a month now and have promised to continue. They’re calling their small but growing uprising the “coffee revolution.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of Arabia in Bahrain, King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa is attempting pre-emptive action against anti-government protests planned for Monday by announcing he will pay every Bahraini family $2,650 and institute reforms.

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