Politics & Economics

What is the meaning and origin of Algeria's most famous protest chant?

North Africa

When protests broke out in Algeria in February earlier this year, "La Casa De Mouradia" became the song of the protest movement. But originating in a football stadium, how did it come to symbolise a political struggle against the Bouteflika Regime?

La Casa de Maroudia is a song that was composed by a musical band called Ouled el Bahdja, who are supporters of the football club Union sportive de la médina d’Alger (USM Alger), based in the capital Algiers. The name of the song refers to the Spanish series La Casa de Papel, which explores the theme of thievery, as well as Al Mouradia Palace, which is the main presidential palace where former President Abduleziz Bouteflika resided. The song mixed together people’s views on corruption and its relation to the former President and his government.

The song spread in popularity among the youth of Algeria, especially in football stadiums, one of the few public arenas where voice of protests have been heard in the country even before the demonstrations in 2019. The song was sung by supporters of other clubs and began to target members of the political elite in 2018. In the final of the Algeria Cup on 1 May 2018, supporters of JS Kabylie directed their at the then Prime Minsiter, Ahmed Ouyahiya, as he arrived onto the pitch.

Once the protest movement began to develop in early 2019, the chant took on a further political dimension and became one of the main forms of expression of discontent towards Bouteflika and the political elite surrounding him. Fans of Chabab Riadhi de Belouizdad (CRB) were filmed in the metro chanting slogans against the former President a week before the first large protest.

Youth played the key role in the lead-up to the resignation of former President Bouteflika in early April 2019. Continuous protests gave the former ailing President little choice but to step down. The protests have continued as the citizens of Algeria are not satisfied with the level of political progress and reform. Civil society organisations are also contributing to the process of political transition in Algeria.