Algeria 1956

Ben Bella

Editorial of the First Issue of “El Moudjahid”

Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)

It is about time that an organ of resistance fighters comes to be, to fill a certain void in order to make known to the Algerian people in struggle, and to a world polarized by the war in Algeria, the voice of our fighters. “El Moudjahid,” added to “Résistance Algérienne” will be the official voice of the FLN, and the mirror of the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN).

The immense political importance of the current war, the prestigious exploits of the Moudjahidines, the untold suffering which the Algerian people suffers with a rare spirit of sacrifice at the hands of imperialist soldiery, need to be made known.

To be sure, the truth about the glorious acts of our fighters appears even through the official French lies, the news appearing in colonialist newspapers, and the disarray of the French government. To be sure, the correctness of the revolutionary politics of the FLN is no longer in question. To be sure, the ferocious repression under the sinister stick of Mollet-Lacoste does nothing but galvanize the Algerians in the war for their liberation. So many clearly obvious factors suffice, in themselves, to assure the most skeptical of our inevitable victory. If the entire truth was known in all its detail, the most skeptical would become the most enthusiastic; the most indifferent — but do they still exist? — would rush to our side; the pacifist world, which still believes in the so-called liberalism of the French government, would see its hair stand on end before this unspeakable war, which the rulers impose in contempt of the right of peoples to self-determination, and in permanent violation of the international conventions which rule the conduct of conflicts.

The propagation and spreading of the truth on the War of Independence, of its goal for peace, prolongs the military successes of the ALN and consolidates the unity of the Algerian people, that unity in combat and sacrifice of which is capable only a people able to rule over its own destiny. This is the basic need that “El Moudjahid” will attempt to meet.

Some will doubtless be surprised by the choice of title, which they might believe inspired by a form of political sectarianism or religious fundamentalism, when our goal is to liberate ourselves of de-nationalising colonialist restraints, and for democracy and equality among all Algerians, regardless of race or religion.

We must respond. The word “jihad” (holy war) from which “el moudjahid” (fighter for the faith) derives, has always been, because of an anti-Islamic prejudice that dates from the Crusades, taken in the Christian West in a limited and restrictive sense. It is taken as a symbol of religious aggressiveness. This interpretation is rendered absurd by the very fact that Islam is tolerant, and the respect of religions, in particular Judaism and Christianity, is one of its fundamental precepts, something which, in fact, has been in practice over the centuries.

“Jihad,” reduced to its essential element, is quite simply a dynamic manifestation of self-defense, for the preservation or the recovery of a heritage of superior and indispensable values for both the individual and the group. It is also the will to continually perfect oneself in all areas.

It just so happens that Islam was in Algeria the last refuge of these values hounded and profaned by an outrageous colonialism. Is there any reason then to be surprised that , in recovering a national consciousness, it contributes to the victory of a just cause?

Thus, the word “jihad” has necessarily evolved with time, and its meaning becomes more clear. Adapting itself to the modern world, in this mid 20th century which more particularly concerns us, it puts in ever clearer relief the unshakeable will, the concentration of effort, the sprit of total sacrifice up to martyrdom, to totally destroy the existing retrograde system. It doesn’t include any religious or racial hatred, any form of exclusivity or conformism, if only that of the unity necessary for final victory.

So understood, “jihad” is a quintessentially liberal and open patriotism. It’s the soldier of the ALN, it’s the political activist, the liaison agent, the little shepherd who provides information, the housewife in the casbah who comments on events, the little schoolchild in Algiers who goes out on strike, it’s economic sabotage, the student who joins the resistance fighters, the distributor of tracts, the peasant who suffers and hopes along with his family. In a word, it’s that ensemble of efforts carried forward by the wheel of history, guided by the FLN, and converging on a single goal, the independence of the country.

That said, we must add that a war can never be holy enough against a colonial regime which after a cowardly aggression in 1830 has, for the past 125 years, tried to exterminate the Algerian people and, not being able to do so, has worked to despoil it and exploit it to the extreme, to maintain it in fetters, in an iron collar of political domination, to systematically violate its language, its religion, its traditions.

Today, this regime measures up to its predecessors in offering itself a last few minutes of massacres and atrocities against civilian populations, at the same time as it flees combat before our invincible “moudjahidines.”

In calling itself “El Moudjahid” this brochure does nothing but consecrate this glorious name, which since November 1, 1954 the good sense of our people has attributed to the patriots who took up arms for a free, independent, and democratic Algeria.

In the gigantic combat that will continue until victory, it takes its place in serving as the eye, the ear, the voice, the objective informer of opinion, the meeting place of resistance fighters and people. In this, it is already conscious of the role which falls to it. Let us hope it fulfils it. Until the end!