Conflict & Justice

Why Algerians Shudder at the Mention of 'Arab Spring'

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Credit: REUTERS

Algerian soldiers stand near the Tiguentourine Gas Plant in In Amenas, 1600 km (994 miles) southeast of Algiers, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Louafi Larbi (ALGERIA - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTR3D77Z

Most Algerians are not admirers of the Arab uprisings that got their start in neighboring Tunisia two years ago, according to Time magazine's Vivienne Walt.

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The current turmoil in Tunisia is all too reminiscent of the civil war with Islamists that swept Algeria in the 1990s, she says.

That conflict took some 200,000 lives.

The January hostage siege at Algeria's In Amenas gas field has only deepened Algerians fear of militant Islam, according to Walt.

"The great specter is that there will be a return of Islamic parties, and militant Islamic organizations which is what the civil war focused on in the 1990s," Walt says. "Everybody you meet in Algeria has lost loved ones in some terrible, violent conflict, and they look over at Tunisia and they see what they might become if there's a popular uprising here."

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