Ghardaia, Algeria – The town of Ghardaia, 600km south of Algiers, is home to both ethnic Arab Chaambas and to Mozabite Berbers who practice the Ibadi form of Islam.
In February, a long-running ethnic conflict between the two groups, which dates back to 1962, when the Chaambas, who won the backing of Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), branded the Mozabites as bourgeois reactionaries.
The dispute was rekindled when the Algerian government launched a social housing project for the Mozabites. This angered many Arabs in the city, who accused the authorities of bias against them.
This region of Algeria is plagued by unemployment and ethnic tensions, and similar strife erupted in 1985 and 2008. But the latest round of unrest has been the most intense. Security forces have been deployed to the area, five people were killed and several more wounded. Homes were set on fire, businesses were looted, and mausoleums and cemeteries were desecrated.