July 25, 2018 / 4:23 PM / 21 days ago

Hundreds of artists join festival in Algerian region hit by civil war

TIFERDOUD, Algeria (Reuters) - Hundreds of Algerian and foreign artists gathered for a festival at a hamlet about 1,700 meters above sea level as part of authorities’ efforts to revive the Kabylie region hit by violence in the civil war in the 90s.

The annual festival of art and music in the Tiferdoud village, in the Tizi Ouzou province east of Algiers, was launched in 2014 with the aim of reviving the area after war killed an estimated 200,000 people throughout the country.

The Kabylie is mainly inhabited by Amazigh, or Berber, and was among the regions worst affected by the violence and atrocities in the civil war, when Islamists took up arms after the ruling elite overturned an election they were poised to win.

Unlike past editions, this year’s festival saw some foreign artists and writers come — more would have liked to join but struggled to obtain visas for the secretive country.

“I am used to participating in festivals but this one is completely different because everything is improvised,” said Cecile, a French artist.

“We are discovering the country, people and another type of festival at the same time.”

The event attracted thousands of visitors from the Kabylie and other regions including women in traditional dresses.

“The meeting between artists and citizens is aimed at sharing moments of conviviality, joy and exchange to discover the arts in general on a big day,” said Amar Sadali, a member of the Tiferdoud’s village committee.

Writing by Hamid Oulf Ahmed; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Hugh Lawson

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