The fundamental change across North Africa is that, increasingly rejected in Europe, people are becoming more Arab, Islamic and Middle Eastern, and less distinctively North African and Francophone. Elderly professors are striving to improve their Arabic because their students no longer handle French. Where an older generation looked down on Arabs of the Middle East, younger adults are increasingly pro-PLO, pro-Iraq and involved.
This has played out differently in Morocco, where King Hassan keeps a tight lid; in Tunisia, where President Zine Abidine Ben Ali carts Moslem agitators off to jail; and in Algeria, where President Chadli Benjedid granted free elections, only to suppress the process along with the unrest it inspired.
Independent as a leftist, one-party dictatorship since 1962, and increasingly Stalinist after the 1965 coup, Algeria was shaken by riots in 1988 for higher living standards, open politics and social justice. The unrest discredited the army and the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN). President Chadli allowed opposition parties to operate, leading to startling victories by the Islamic Salvation Front in local elections last June. With parliamentary elections set for this June 27, the Islamic Salvation Front took to the streets in political strikes, paralyzing Algiers, demanding a presidential election as well.