Flour and salad oil prices have doubled in Algeria in the last couple of months. Although official government statistics place unemployment in the nation at about 10%, independent organizations place it closer to 25%. The result of increasing unemployment and increasing food prices has been rioting. Hundreds of people throughout the nation, mainly youth, have clashed with police and damaged government buildings (Guardian, January 7, 2011). Riots have killed several and injured hundreds of people. Recently, copying an act in Tunisia, several Algerian men have set themselves on fire in protest against the government (www.magharebia.com, January 28, 2011).
Algeria is relatively wealthy because of its oil resources. In response to the recent riots, finance ministers cancelled import tariffs to lower food prices, lessening some of the violence. However, according to one Algerian official, “Our officials have excelled in creating failures; despite the financial abundance Algeria enjoys … they dealt with the social anarchy with the utmost stupidity. Rather than taking urgent measures to quell the anger, they began spreading accusations left and right, trying to find hidden elements who mobilized the street. Well, they haven’t found the hidden elements and haven’t stopped the current deviation” (TheMediaLine.org, January 9, 2011).
Long ago, God warned that leaders who are concerned only about themselves and who neglect their people will encounter serious consequences (see Ezekiel 34). The discontent in Algeria is adding to the destabilization across the Middle East and North Africa.