- Title: ALGERIA: Violent clashes between Chinese immigrants and Algerian locals
- Date: 4th August 2009
- Summary: VARIOUS OF INHABITANT READING NEWSPAPER, WITH PICTURE OF ABDELKRIM SALOUDA
- Embargoed: 19th August 2009 13:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Reuters ID: LVAUSYS7275NRKXP4P2L1ZEYIO5
- Story Text: About a hundred Algerians and Chinese migrant workers fought using knives and bludgeons in the capital Algiers, witnesses said on Tuesday (August 4), in an unprecedented flare-up of local anger at Chinese immigration.
Planeloads of Chinese workers have been arriving in the North African oil producer, mostly to work on state-funded construction projects, but their presence has fuelled resentment in a country where 7 out of 10 adults under 30 are unemployed.
Witnesses said three people were injured in the brawl on Monday in the eastern district of Bab Ezzouar, an area known to locals as "Chinatown". They said it was sparked by a confrontation between a shop owner and Chinese motorist.
Abdelkrim Salouda, who was wearing a bloodstained gown, told Reuters that he had been involved in a confrontation with a Chinese man, and punched him, after telling him not to park in front of his shop.
He said he thought it was over, but that a group of Chinese men then returned to take revenge.
"When I arrived at the shop, I found around 50 or 60 Chinese people screaming and carrying sticks, swords and baseball sticks. They came to my neighbour's house, they started screaming and shaking the gates but I was in the shop of my friend, next door, so they did not find anyone. When they saw me, one from them talked with his friend. Then, they attacked and surrounded us inside the shop. After that, they attacked us and hit us. I did not know what was happening, I fell on the ground and the only thing that I remember is the sticks and swords on my head. Then I fainted and I did not see anything. When I woke up, I saw everything broken. After that, some people from our area saved us," said Salouda.
Witnesses told Reuters about 60 Algerian residents also joined in the brawl.
China last month warned its citizens in Algeria about possible attacks from al Qaeda's North African wing in retribution for a Chinese government crackdown in the Muslim region of Xinjiang.
Some local people at the scene of the fighting in Algiers said on Tuesday Chinese migrants did not respect Muslim traditions. But there was no evidence of any direct link between the brawl and the recent clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.
"To solve this problem, the local residents must ask the authorities to make them leave because since their arrival they have harmed us through their bad behaviour, by drinking alcohol and in the evening when they have finished their work they bring the tables outside the shops and they drink beers, and they play cards and they wear shorts in front of the local residents. So, we lost decency," said Salouda, the injured shopkeeper. He added that the attack on him had been attempted murder.
Salouda was filmed dazed and bleeding shortly after the attack by his brother, Khaled, who also criticised the lifestyles of Chinese workers.
"We lost decency. I changed the glass of my windows to smoke tinted glass and when I want to go on the terrace, or have a look from the windows with my wife, I cannot, because they pass naked, without clothes with their wives, they are drunk and after that they bring the tables outside their shops and they put beer and alcohol on them. All that, in your own country," he said.
Official estimates put at 35,000 the number of Chinese in Algeria, a Muslim former French colony and Africa's third-biggest economy. Many local people believe the real figure is much higher.
Employers say Chinese workers will accept lower pay and are often better qualified than Algerians.
The Chinese influx mirrors a broader trend across Africa.
Academics estimate there could be about 750,000 Chinese in Africa, making them one of the continent's biggest foreign communities. Investment has flooded in from Chinese firms seeking access to Africa's mineral resources.
At the scene of the brawl, groups of Algerian residents stood outside buildings on Tuesday where Chinese people live.
Other residents said Chinese families were trapped inside their homes because they feared an attack if they go outside.
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