Algerians on Twitter staged a protest against the state of education in their country, with Aboubakr Benbouzid, the Minister of Education, serving as a focal point. Borrowing from the slogan “Ben Ali dégage” (Ben Ali get out) made famous by the Tunisian revolution last year, they adopted the hashtag #BenbouzidDégage.
Participants were invited to the ‘event’, which took place on June 14, through this poster prepared by @copi35:
#BenbouzidDégage Thursday June 14 at 8:00pm Algerian Twitter users, tweet about the state of education in Algeria. Come in numbers
That evening's activity were explained clearly by Rachid Laireche [fr]:
@RachidLaireche: Ce soir la twittosphère algérienne est en mission. L'objectif: virer le ministre de l'éducation en poste depuis 20 ans. #BenbouzidDégage
(In reality Benbouzid has been a minister for 19 years, 14 of which have been spent as Minister of Education).
Hamoud Aissam described the assignment succinctly [ar]:
For Ismail Chaib going to Twitter for such an action made sense:
@iChaib: Since demonstrations are neither allowed nor effective in #Algeria, the youth is demonstrating on Twitter and it works! cc #BenbouzidDégage
Yasmine Bouchène launched the tweet wave on time:
@Yaspuppchen: 1, 2, 3, let's begin the #BenbouzidDégage.
It began with gently sarcastic tweets such as this one from Arslan Mouloudi:
@Bahimund: Ouvrons le bal gentiment; #BenbouzidDégage, s'il te plait ? Tu es en place depuis 1993. JE SUIS NÉ EN 1993 !
The campaign lasted well over four hours. Sporadic tweets carrying the hashtag are still arriving at this time.
Tweeters protested against the record longevity of the minister which was aptly captured by this picture, posted by Youcef Baaloudj, which shows that France had 10 different ministers of education during Benbouzid's tenure.
This led Seif Eddine to comment wryly:
The poor quality of education, the lowering of standards, the repressive atmosphere in schools, and inflated success rates were recurring themes in the tweets posted that evening.
Algerian Mesperpe7 commented:
@copi35: L'école algérienne apprend aux élèves les problème sans jamais leur apprendre à créer la solution. #BenbouzidDégage
Then Imene complained:
For her part, Yasmine Bouchène mentioned the repression she experienced when she asked that a word be translated to her native Kabyle:
@Yaspuppchen: Au primaire, j'avais demandé la traduction d'un mot arabe au kabyle. On m'a réprimandé. J'avais 6 ans. #TamazightEnseignée #BenbouzidDégage
Tamazight is the name of the native language of North Africa and its teaching has been a contentious political issue in Algeria for many decades.
According to a report from tweetreach.com the hash tag “BenbouzidDégage reached 13,269 accounts.
Although centered on Twitter the operation also had a Facebook component.