Search

 

Cablegate: King of Rai Latest Western Sahara Casualty

P 110849Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5980
INFO AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY MADRID
AMEMBASSY RABAT
AMEMBASSY TUNIS
AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT
AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS ALGIERS 000682

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS PREF PREL SCUL KPAO WI MO AG
SUBJECT: KING OF RAI LATEST WESTERN SAHARA CASUALTY

REF: RABAT 496

1. According to Algerian press reports and an Algerian
concert goer in Morocco, Algerian pop star Cheb Khaled, known
as the King of Rai music, was briefly assaulted on June 1 by
a Moroccan concert audience angry at his known affection for
the cause of Western Saharan independence. After a Spanish
concert in May in which Khaled wore the Sahrawi flag on his
shoulders, Algerian French-language daily Le Jeune
Independant reported on June 5 that Khaled received "an
interesting financial offer" from the Moroccan concert
organizers to use the June 1 concert in Meknes to publicly
change his views. After he allegedly declined the offer, the
crowd treated him to a brief shower of glass bottles and
insults. Khaled had refused to perform inside the territory
of Western Sahara earlier in the year.

A SINGER WRAPPED IN THE SAHRAWI FLAG
------------------------------------

2. Khaled's sympathies for Western Sahara and the Polisario
are well known - he declined to participate in the February
28 - March 3 music festival in the city of Dakhla, stating on
Algerian radio that "one cannot be a music Ambassador for
peace in the world and ignore people's rights." (Note:
Dakhla lies well inside the territory of Western Sahara. End
note.) During the month of May, Khaled, whose full name is
Khaled Hadj Brahim, performed during the International
Festival of Peoples Cultures in Spain. While singing, he at
one point carried the Western Sahara flag on his shoulders,
an act not lost on the Algerian public, for whom Khaled is a
national icon. According to Leila Bouzar, a reporter for
Algerian channel 3 radio, the Makhzen (Moroccan institutions
of state) "is becoming more and more aggressive as far as
Western Sahara is concerned," and that the recent impasse in
the Manhasset negotiations had served to arouse public
passions over the issue in both Morocco and Algeria. Nadia
Cheriet, advisor to the Minister of Culture, told us on June
7 that "it is sad to see politics infringing on culture" in
this way, adding that "we have seen him singing with the
Moroccan flag, the Lebanese flag, the Palestinian flag, so
why shouldn't he sing with the Sahrawi one?"

INTERMARRIAGE ONLY GOES SO FAR
------------------------------

3. The June 1 concert was Khaled's first appearance in
Morocco since the Spanish concert. According to an Algerian
fan living in Casablanca, the concert started smoothly but
then went south when one fan threw a bottle at him. This,
said our contact, "was a signal for others to follow."
Several more glass bottles followed, along with shouts of
"traitor." Khaled suffered a minor leg injury from the glass
and had to leave the stage for fifteen minutes. When he
returned, he pointed out to the audience that "you know how
much I am attached to Morocco. You know that my wife, the
mother of my daughters, is Moroccan." By brandishing his own
personal pan-Maghreb credentials, Khaled succeeded in putting
a stop to the insults and bottle throwing, and the concert
continued, albeit amidst a tense atmosphere.

COMMENT: MANY RIVERS TO CROSS
-----------------------------

4. Khaled himself embodies both the promise and challenges of
pan-Maghreb integration. An Algerian pop icon without equal,
he hails from Western Algeria, is married to a Moroccan,
adamantly supports the Western Sahara cause, and has achieved
fame throughout the Arab and francophone world. Given the
propensity of Rai music to focus on love, politics and
sensuality (the genre, born in Western Algeria and Morocco,
derives its name from the Arabic word for "opinion"), several
prominent Rai singers were killed by Islamists in the 1990s.
Khaled's own life was threatened several times and, while
still considering himself an Algerian patriot, he has lived
in France and Belgium ever since the early 1990s. The June 1
concert in Meknes served as an unfortunate reminder that,
while culture crosses borders within the Maghreb, politics -
as represented by Algerian attitudes towards Morocco's stance
on the Western Sahara and reopening the borders - still has a
long way to go.

FORD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: