Christmas market opens in Algerian capital

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A woman takes a selfie with a man dressed as Santa Claus at a Christmas market in Algiers, Algeria December 15, 2017. Picture taken December 15. 2017. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

A small Christmas market has opened in Algeria’s capital, catering to a rising number of Christian African migrants, as well as diplomats and locals in the overwhelmingly Muslim country.

Around 99 percent of Algeria’s population is Sunni Muslim but the number of Christians has been rising due to an influx of migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The market, organized by the Caritas charity, is also a sign of stable security in a country that has rebounded from a decade of Islamist militant violence during which 200,000 people died.

No official figure is available for the number of African migrants, but some estimates put it at around 100,000.

“It is not about making money, but rather about using the money to help the most vulnerable, whether Algerians, African migrants or Syrians”, Caritas Algeria director, Maurice Pilloud, said.

Veiled Muslim women mix with foreigners at the market in Algiers’ El Biar district, where honey, chocolate, cakes, jewelry and trinkets are sold. Many donations came from Muslims, added Pilloud.

The market offers the chance for young people to make a contribution to society in a political system where the ruling party has dominated all aspects of the oil-producing North African state since independence, in 1962.

“Charitable work remains most attractive for a majority of young Algerians who shun political action because it doesn’t bring change”, said Cherif Lounes, 47, who was visiting the market along with his mother.

“We need 50 Caritas associations in Algeria to help the vulnerable, whether Algerians or migrants”, highlighted Saida, his 79-year-old mother.

 

Samira SALAH

Reuters

A man dressed as Santa Claus is pictured at a Christmas market in Algiers, Algeria December 15, 2017. Picture taken December 15. 2017. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina.

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