The Window into WarThe recent explosion of terrorism in the world has shifted the world focus to the spread of radical Islam and the effects it has.The Lovers of Algeria, by Anouar Benmalek, provides a window into the history of a war-torn country through a series of narratives.Benmalek depicts the differences in treatment based on gender and race in this society.
The results of the French colonization and the suffering from the war are shown throughout the novel.The effects of radical Islam are vividly shown through graphic depictions of torture and executions.This novel allows the reader to better understand the effects of the spread of this culture. In this society judgment is almost always passed instantly based on appearance.Foreign or native, and man or woman, are the two main characteristics most people look at.The natives are treated like dogs by the imposing French, and foreigners are often the target of the rebels, but the natives are killed with the slightest sign of disloyalty.This creates separation and hatred between everyone.
Anna is abandoned in the middle of nowhere at night by a taxi driver who finds out she isn’t really a native.Nassreddine is constantly being stopped on public roads to show his papers by French and rebel road blocks.The “police” don’t hesitate to give beatings to anyone who doesn’t show the utmost respect and compliance to their constant demands.The majority of citizens live in fear of death everyday.
Being a woman doesn’t make life any easier.The Islamic rebels create a world with no choice for women.Women must always be in the traditional full dress of the Islamic culture; many are abducted and raped by the band of rebels. Foreign women are no exception; Anna is abducted by a group of Islamic fundamentalists and is forced to follow them.
Resistance is useless, as pointed out by Saliha, a fellow prisoner.“There is no point in resisting.Have you seen our little schoolgirl’s teeth?They kidnapped Khedidja two weeks ago, at the school gate.The first night she refused to go with them.They beat her, then raped her one by one.She spent three whole nights in the men’s quarters.
She couldn’t sit down for a week, she was in such pain!”Fortunately for Anna, she’s much older and isn’t raped, but she does get beaten badly.This society clearly looks down on the women, and there is hatred between citizens created by the rebels and French. Benmalek captures the effects of the war for independence on the way of life of Algerians.
The standards of living there are much worse than the rest of the world.Children are left to fend for themselves, people live in decrepit shacks, and work is nearly impossible to find.Jallal, a young boy, displays the hardships of making it in this world.
He spends his days rummaging through a dump to find items to sell at the local market.Jallal meets a “dustman” named Said, who allows him to stay in his meager housing in return for doing chores.“Said turns out to be difficult to get along with, silent for evenings on end, brusque and often spiteful in his rare exchanges with Jallal.Several times, the boy is on the point of quitting, determined never to set foot in this damned dump again.
But a combination of fatigue and terror, the hard days spent sorting rubbish, piece by piece, the terror, novel and irrepressible, of living alone, discourage him.So, lips compressed in disgust, he always returns to the hut with the decrepit motorbike parked outside.” Then the man is ripped from Jallal’s life by the police.He is beaten badly and interrogated about Said’s whereabouts; children are treated just as harshly as the adults.
Those who can find work aren’t much better off either.Nassreddine.