By Dr. Omima Ahmed,
ALGIERS , IslamOnline.net
Red Crescent and state-run solidarity committees have intensified their humanitarian efforts with the start of Ramadan, distributing
food packages among the poor in the north African country.
effort continued for the fifth day Tuesday, October 19, as the holy month started in Algeria
on Friday, October 15, as was the case with most Arab states this year.
as in previous years, the Algerian government has allocated around 1.5 million food packages to be handed out among the poor
in the Arab Maghreb country during the dawn-to-dusk fasting month.
containing the main basic food stuffs such as rice, sugar, milk, oil, meat, vegetables, and fruits, are distributed among
the poor by the Islamic Algerian scouting teams.
to the estimates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2003, 57 percent of Algerians are considered poor, but the local
opposition put the percentage at 70 percent, of which some 12 million have a daily income of one dollar or less.
parallel line with such efforts, the Algerian government has also earmarked 150 million dollars to open 500 “mercy restaurants”
in the Arab country, said the Algerian national solidarity minister Djamel Ould Abbes.
would serve hot meals for the passers-by and the homeless during the holy fasting month, he added.
years ago, the Algerian authorities banned political parties and Islamic societies from practicing any charitable work, alleging
the aim was to prevent such activities from being used for political ends.
limited such charitable and humanitarian activities to the Red Crescent and Ministry of National Solidarity.
charity under Sheikh Shamsul Din Kharroubi was one of the humanitarian organizations to offer aid to the poor, gaining popularity
among Algerians, especially in heavily populated middle-class neighborhoods.
Kharroubi started to appear in political gatherings and give account on political affairs, the Algerian authorities moved
to ban activities of the Islamic charity and only allowed Algerian official bodies to undertake the humanitarian work in the
saw the steps taken by the Algerian government as an attempt to stop the recurring of “mercy markets” held by
the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front in 1990, 1991.
used to sell food stuff at low prices, gaining a heavy popularity among the Algerian public.
won the first round of the Algerian legislative elections in 1991, but the army cancelled the elections, disbanded the front,
and arrested its members, dragging the whole country into a bloody episode of violence.
Some 150,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since then.