If the world should be rightfully proud of the American Independence Day celebrated on July 4th, it should be very proud of the Algerian Independence Day celebrated the next day, on July 5th!
Today, July 5th, 2012, marks the 50th anniversary of a historical event of the utmost importance: Not only for one specific country, but in reality for the entire Arab world and beyond.
After 132 years of a particularly savage occupation by France, and after a fierce seven-year-long war to rid itself of the French colonial clutches, Algeria was finally able to regain its independence.
That happened officially 50 years ago, day for day.
The price for freedom was by no means cheap: The independence war claimed nearly 2,000,000 Algerian lives according to domestic estimates, not to mention countless “casualties of war.”
The lessons of the heroic Algerian struggle, actively supported by its many allies in the Arab world, most particularly Egypt, should not be lost on anyone, especially today, when the countries of the Arabic region are experiencing some of the most profound and most significant changes in their history.
To understand things in their right منظـــــــــور (perspective), a little historical recap is absolutely necessary.
Flashback to the 1930s, in the wake of more than 100 years of savage occupation of Algeria, in which concentration camps, cave gas chambers for the masses, and large scale looting of natural resources were all very common practices, the French colonial authorities considered that the time was come to declare to the whole world the resounding triumph of their “mission civilisatrice“!
From then on, the destiny of “l’Algérie Française” (“French Algeria”) was forever sealed and secured in the eyes of the colonialists.
Algeria was to remain forever French, and its people, though treated as second-rate citizens, or “أهـــــــالي” (“indigènes” in French), would none the less be considered as the children of the “French Motherland.”
However, the reaction of the smashing majority of Algerians was swift and uncompromising.
The general response was best summed up by عبدالحميــــــد بن باديـــــــــس (Abdelhamid Ben Badis), the remarkable polymath who hailed from a prestigious Berber tribe and who nevertheless fully embraced Arabic as هُويــــــــــة حضــــــــاريـــة (a civilisational identity) of Algeria.
To the pre-WWII colonialist propaganda, he steadfastly opposed his now famous slogan: “شَعْـبُ الجـزائرِ مُـسْـلِـمٌ *** وَإلىَ الـعُـروبةِ يَـنتَـسِـبْ” (“The People of Algeria are Muslim and belong to the Arab world”)
شَعْـبُ الجـزائرِ مُـسْـلِـمٌ *** وَإلىَ الـعُـروبةِ يَـنتَـسِـبْ
The people of Algeria are Muslim and belong to the Arab world
مَنْ قَــالَ حَـادَ عَنْ أصْلِـهِ *** أَوْ قَــالَ مَـاتَ فَقَدْ كَـذبْ
Whoever said they degenerated or died has lied
أَوْ رَامَ إدمَــاجًــا لَــهُ *** رَامَ الـمُحَـال من الطَّـلَـبْ
Or aimed to assimilate them, aimed to accomplish the impossible
يَانَشءُ أَنْـتَ رَجَــاؤُنَــا *** وَبِـكَ الصَّبـاحُ قَـدِ اقْـتَربْ
O new generation, you are our hope, and thanks to you the dawn is nigh
خُـذْ لِلحَـيـاةِ سِلاَحَـهـا *** وَخُـضِ الخْـطُـوبَ وَلاَ تَهبْ
Be prepared for life’s challenges, and let no polemic intimidate you
وَاْرفعْ مَـنـارَ الْـعَـدْلِ وَالإ *** حْـسـانِ وَاصْـدُمْ مَـن غَصَبْ
Uphold the values of justice and philanthropy, and confront the usurper
وَاقلَعْ جُـذورَ الخَـــائـنينَ *** فَـمـنْـهُـم كُلُّ الْـعَـطَـبْ
Uproot traitors, for they are the main source of dysfunction
وَأَذِقْ نفُوسَ الظَّــالـمِـينَ *** سُـمًّـا يُـمْـزَج بالـرَّهَـبْ
And let oppressors taste an overawing venom
!وَاهْـزُزْ نـفـوسَ الجَـامِدينَ *** فَرُبَّـمَـا حَـيّ الْـخَـشَـبْ
Shake the souls of the nonchalants—for even wood can come to life!
مَنْ كَــان يَبْغـي وَدَّنَــا *** فَعَلَى الْكَــرَامَــةِ وَالـرّحبْ
Those who court our friendship are welcome and highly appreciated
أوْ كَـــانَ يَبْغـي ذُلَّـنـَا *** فَلَهُ الـمـَهَـانَـةُ والـحَـرَبْ
And those who seek our disgrace, humiliation and perdition are their fair rewards
هَـذَا نِـظـامُ حَـيَـاتِـنَـا *** بالـنُّـورِ خُــطَّ وَبِاللَّـهَـبْ
This is the creed of our life, carved with light and fire
حتَّى يَعودَ لـقَــومــنَـا *** من مَجِــدِهم مَــا قَدْ ذَهَبْ
Until our people regain their missing glory
هَــذا لكُمْ عَـهْــدِي بِـهِ *** حَتَّى أوَسَّــدَ في الـتُّـرَبْ
This is my oath to you, till the day I am laid in the ground
!فَــإذَا هَلَكْتُ فَصَيْـحـتـي *** تَحيـَا الجَـزائـرُ وَ الْـعـرَبْ
So if I died, my scream shall be: “Long live Algeria and Arabs!”
(☆ An exclusive Transparent Arabic Blog translation ☆)
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Qassaman (“Oath” in Arabic) – النَّشيـــــــد الوطنـــــــي الجزائـــــــــري (The National Anthem of Algeria)