Algeria's 'Black Decade' Still Weighs Heavily Much like its neighbors, Algeria faces high unemployment, corruption and poverty. However, a bloody and brutal civil war during the 1990s has left Algerians hesitant to take to the streets and call for change. They say they're tired of upheaval and violence.
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Algeria's 'Black Decade' Still Weighs Heavily

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Algeria's 'Black Decade' Still Weighs Heavily

Algeria's 'Black Decade' Still Weighs Heavily

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Unidentified Group: (Singing foreign language).

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Group: (Speaking foreign language).

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

BEARDSLEY: Although the murders of the monks shocked the West, Algerians were suffering similar tragedies every day, says Algerian journalist Rachid Khiari.

RACHID KHIARI: (Through translator) People lived for eight years not knowing if they would even return home when they left the house in the morning. People saw babies massacred and whole village wiped out. Today there are cases of schizophrenia relating to those years. It was horrible, and after a while, no one knew who was killing who anymore.

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Group: (Speaking foreign language).

BEARDSLEY: Nassera Dutour is president of the association. Since her own son Amin was kidnapped some 13 years ago Dutour says she doesn't bother wearing makeup, and she calls her frequent laugh a nervous habit. She describes how people like her son disappeared in the 1990s.

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING)

NASSERA DUTOUR: (Through translator) The military and the police would come together. They'd circle a village looking for the so-called terrorists. It was like the Gestapo. They'd knock at the door, lock up the women and take the men. And if they couldn't find who they were looking for, they'd take other family members.

BEARDSLEY: Dutour says she and the other mothers also want information about their children, but since the amnesty, the government considers the issue of the missing closed and refuses to meet with them. Almost every Algerian was touched by the killings of the '90s.

AMEL ABBESS: During the Black Decade, people just tried to stay alive and prayed that the killing would stop, she says. That's why they don't take to the streets in protest now.

ABBESS: (Through translator) People want to live peacefully and normally now. And we want to become more prosperous, too. I think once we've done that, we'll think more about democracy.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley.

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