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The alleged “bikini operations” in Algeria, buzz of the summer

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Ryad Kramdi – | An Algerian woman on a beach reserved for women and children east of Algiers, 9 August 2016

Since the beginning of the summer, Algerian women, meeting on the beach to avoid being bothered by coarse dredgers or professors of morality, have been erected by some media as bikini fighters against the ” Islamism.

On Monday, the news was “buzz” on the sites of some French media: “Up to 3,000 women” were expected for a “giant Republican bath” in Tichy, Kabylie seaside resort near Béjaïa East of Algiers).

Kamel Medjdoub, head of the Bejaia office of the daily El-Watan, is however formal: “No + republican bathing + took place,” Monday, August 7. “It was an ordinary day with his lot of ordinary jerseys of all kinds,” he told AFP by telephone.

The bikini is not prohibited on Algerian beaches, where women bathe in various outfits – one-piece, two-piece, dressed or burkini jersey.

Announced on social networks, this “republican bathing” – which could be a hoax according to Algerian media – was supposed to echo the so-called “bikini operations” launched in early summer in Annaba (600 km from Algiers) According to some Algerian, French, Italian or British media, impose by the number the bikinis on the local beaches.

Problem: no Algerian or foreign journalist could see the reality of these operations and only a photo of one of these supposed “bikini operations”, without date and place, showing twenty women back in swimsuit, circulates on Twitter .

The buzz was born from an article in a local newspaper in Annaba, the Provincial, published on July 10 and reprinted on social networks and then in the media.

The article spoke of “a group of 2,876 women” who “organize each week on social networks to protest peacefully by bathing in bathing suits on the beaches of the city”, in reaction to a “campaign” Islamist on the internet calling to photograph the women in jersey and publish them online.

If the Facebook group “What beach in Annaba?” Exists well, it was not created by militantism probikini but to go in group on the beach to protect itself from the harassment of certain men, explained one of its members to the AFP.

– ‘Swimming at ease’ –

The group was created at the end of June, said Sarah, 24, a student in Annaba: “I joined early July … because I thought we were not comfortable swimming. We did not want to be disturbed “.

“So far, we have found ourselves about twenty women on the same beach (…) in general the beach of Seraidi” in Annaba, sued Sarah which says to know “a hundred people of this group”.

“I do not have access to all the members of this group and I do not know them all” but “there has never been a bath to 3,000 women,” she told AFP.

The author of the initial article, Lilia Mechakra, told AFP to have “spoken of a group of women of 3,000 members, without saying that they were going to the beach together.” According to her, her remarks were distorted, then the figure repeated everywhere without verification.

In addition, Sarah emphasized, “for us, it does not matter whether the woman is in bikini, sailing, jersey or other, the essential thing is to be able to swim at ease without being bothered.”

The group was created not in response to a fundamentalist campaign but to the attitude of many men on the beaches, insisted the young woman who denounced “the false information circulating on the social networks”.

For if the scale of the “Islamist campaign” of photographing women in jersey remains to be assessed, verbal harassment of women on the beaches – or in the streets – of Algeria, by coarse dredgers or professors of morals, Is a reality.

According to Yamina Rahou, a sociologist at the Algerian Center for Research in Social and Cultural Anthropology (CRASC), Algerian society is “caught between the hammer of the fundamentalists who want a police of morals and beaches for women and the anvil of the commodification of Bodies of Western women who want to impose unbridled modernity “.

But these operations bikini, “it is a fantasy of the foreign media, French in particular, to furnish the summer after the soap opera of the burkini” in 2016, she explained to AFP.

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