|Le 31 mars 2015, la revue The Nation a publié un article de Malika Rahal : « Into the Woods. The fight between terrorism and tourism in Algeria’s Atlas Mountains ».|
In late September, the news came that Hervé Gourdel, a 55-year-old French mountain guide who had been hiking in the Djurdjura in northern Algeria, had been executed by Jund al-Khilafah, an armed group claiming to be part of ISIS, or, in Arabic, Daesh (Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, or Syria). Gourdel had worked in the French Alps and trekked in Southeast Asia, Jordan and Morocco, where he also trained Moroccan mountain guides. After meeting Algerian hikers through Facebook, he planned his first trip to Algeria, where he hoped to discover new beautiful mountain landscapes. (For a country where tourism is dramatically underdeveloped, online contact was by far the easiest and obvious way to organize the trip.) On September 22, during his exploration of the Djurdjura, he was kidnapped by Jund al-Khilafah. Two days later, his abductors, following the example of recent assassinations of American and British journalists in Iraq and Syria, filmed his execution and posted the footage online. Gourdel was made to kneel in front of four armed men with covered faces—the viewers can only imagine from his face how he struggled to retain his self-control—while a voice read a long text accusing France of waging war against Muslims and pledging allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The trees in the background of the image have been blurred, presumably to avoid disclosing the location of the execution. But the perpetrators didn’t manage to expunge the sound of birds twittering in the background. Western media reported the story of Gourdel’s murder as retribution for the French bombing of regions of Syria under the control of ISIS. That may be so, but the murderers’ choice of locale had a very particular and sinister meaning for Algerians.
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