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Algeria – Morocco : Is cultural heritage the new battleground?

By Fadwa Islah
Posted on Wednesday, 17 November 2021 17:24

Algerian and Moroccan flags fly over the Djenane El-Mufti residence in Algiers, during the historic visit of Saadeddine El Othmani, the Kingdom's foreign affairs minister, to Algeria on 24 January 2012. RYAD KRAMDI/AFP

The renewed political tensions between Rabat and Algiers have rekindled the dispute over the historical origin of certain elements of the two countries’ shared cultural heritage. These include Tarik Ibn Ziyad, Ibn Khaldoun, couscous, gnawa music, malhoun and the kaftan.

Diplomatic warfare can quickly escalate into cultural warfare, as evidenced by comments from Algerian and Moroccan internet users. In parallel to the escalating tensions between their respective countries, they have been clashing for several months, on social media, over the origins of certain shared cultural elements, including couscous, tajine, the kaftan and gnawa. Everything is up for debate, even the nationality of certain historical figures, such as Tarik Ibn Ziyad and Ibn Khaldun.