By Allas Di Tlelli
Meftah is a small town about fifty miles from Algiers. The year was 1994. Algeria, on top of the Islamist terror, was on fire. The state was on the verge of collapse. Khomeini revolution was about to happen again with terror in south Mediterranean, while the West, which focused on the international Islamism, allowed « the Islamic network of support for the Algerian gerillja » to transform itself in Europe and USA. The military regime in Algiers sought a compromise with the GIA (an armed islamic organisation), and left with this Democrats, the independent press, women, workers … alone against the nefarious beast, armed only with their courage and firm will, shouted repeatedly in the streets of Algiers, Tizi Ouzou and other cities in Algeria, this slogan: « Neither Tehran, Khartoum or Kabul, Algeria will be free and democratic. »
Although the fundamentalists’ goal was primarily the security services, the army’s young conscripts, all stemmed from the working class, journalists, intellectuals and Democrat activists … women have suffered for a long time before the official start of their « holy war » in 1992. The women were the ones who suffered worst of the barbarism of the green fascism. In the absence of official statistics, speaks of thousands of women murdered, like so many raped, many of them were mothers of several children born of unknown fathers who grew up in the bush, away from all contact with civilization. Hundreds of other women were reduced to slaves in the bunkers where they were held captive ..
Besides,1994 was the year in which the fundamentalist strategy became collective bloodsheds and kidnappings of young girls and women in general. The Muslim violence was commonplace for entire groups, namely those living outside major cities. In the wake of Muslim extreme hate expression, women without veils (and multiple others) were constantly harassed and threatened in their physical integrity. Many still remember the day in 1994 when Algiers (and other cities) discovered its walls and boulevards full of posters that bore the signature of the GIA in which it was ordered that all women should wear veils within eight days. After this period, any woman without a veil would be executed at the earliest opportunity. Many who felt alone and helpless, bowed to the order. Other, more stubborn, continued to live their normal lives, with her hair fluttering in the wind. They had strength enough to defy Islamist threats and delivered to the men, a very rare lesson of courage and determination.
One of the girls, named Katia Bengan, barely 17 years old, was a brilliant high school student in Meftah, a small town in Mitidja. The city was named by the Islamic hordes as a « liberated territory » because of the total absence of the state in this region where the GIA was supreme. Against this backdrop of fear where almost all the male stooped to save their skins, got the young Katie additional warnings in the form of threats to force her to cover up. She refused to obey, showed a persistence that was intolerable for the bearded. She had impressed her teachers, her classmates and a population that underwent daily these nightmares religious obscurantism. She wanted to be free, wanted to be worthy, she wanted to be a woman. It was in cold blood she was murdered by a mob of bearded cowardly men on her way to school on February 28, 1994. Since then, Katie was immortal. She became a symbol of resistance and vitality for all women and all men who love democracy and freedom.
Now, in 2017, 23 years after the murder of Katia, she is still among us – somewhere around us. But her parents, resigned to its dignity, is inconsolable.