Mohsen Abdelmoumen – racism is only the gross expression of filthy ignorance

By Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. In the following my
interview with Mohsen Abdelmoumen, a journalist focusing on matters which are
very important to me, like Yemen, Western Sahara, Palestine and who also treats
matters like human rights, even if this term as he says, is misused, ethics in
journalism and the struggle against the discrimination of people because of
their ethnic origin and religious orientation. Another important matter in this
interview concerns the importance of anti-imperialist views which must not
remain unexpressed by engaged journalists. Would like to thank Mohsen very much
for his time and precious answers.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?
It’s always difficult to talk about
oneself because I grew up and lived in a world where we rarely talk about
ourselves. Furthermore, having experienced commitment and activism at a very
young age, I have learned that when one becomes politically committed –
especially by being on the revolutionary left – to just causes such as social
justice, freedom, etc., one is not used to talking about oneself. On the
contrary, we give much more than we receive. Concerning the circumstances, I
think that to be a journalist, it took a combination of factors, a kind of
I started when I was very young, writing
for myself in Arabic and French. My political commitment pushed me into
permanent reading, be it books or texts. A friend of mine who is an occupational
doctor then suggested to set up a local newspaper with his friends in Béjaïa,
The project did not come to fruition,
yet we had started to set up the administrative process and so on. In the
meantime, I was in contact with an Algerian news agency to which I sent
dispatches and articles about current events in the city where I was. They were
very interested in my work. At that time, we were living through a war against
terrorism in which hundreds of thousands of Algerians paid with their lives,
and many of the projects I was considering did not succeed.
One day, I met Henri Alleg, a great
journalist and a great activist of the Algerian cause, he had been director of Alger
. This meeting was a chance encounter, but it made an impression
on me. I see a sign. The elders of Alger Républicain who had formed an
association decided to relaunch the publication of the newspaper. I found
myself in the middle of this project and we started the adventure with three. I
did a lot of work, including contacting former supporters of the newspaper
wherever they were and I was part of the newspaper for several years. Although
it was an old newspaper, its reappearance was a baptism of fire for me. I put a
lot of work into this newspaper.
A few years later, I organized a hunger strike in Algeria against the
working conditions of journalists and then I moved away after Bouteflika was
elected for his second term. I left Algeria for Europe where I also organized a
hunger strike to obtain residence permits for more than a hundred people. It
was an enriching experience because, among other things, I managed the media
aspect of this action. I have spoken about our struggle to various newspapers
and media such as international television stations such as Al Jazeera, the
BBC, RTL, RTBF, France 3, RAI, Spanish and Scandinavian television stations,
and so on. This allowed us to use information as a fighting tool and we were
supported all over the world, notably by Hugo Chavez. We finally won.
After several years of absence in
journalism, I returned to the profession by writing remotely and voluntarily
for Algerian dailies such as La Nouvelle République and Algérie
, and then other Western sites that contacted me to be part of
their team. The last media outlet I work for is the American Herald Tribune
where I write regularly as a columnist, always on a volunteer basis. My
background is not classic, I’ve made it on the job. I came to journalism by
chance and by accident. It’s fate. In Alger Républicain, I had a column
called “Strikes and riots” and I was in contact with many unionists.
I did a lot of interviews and reports. It’s a long experience and I’m
forgetting a lot of anecdotes, but the course that followed was even richer in
contacts with very interesting personalities of international stature, I would
even say fascinating. Thus, I was able to meet, in particular, Westerners who
campaigned for the independence of my country, Algeria, but also ambassadors,
scientists, activists, journalists, academics, writers, intelligence
professionals, military, diplomats and many others.
interview is my strong side because I have easy contact. I have enriched myself
as a human being through contact with these people. It’s a lot of work and it’s
also stressful, but it’s exciting.
As I’m usually the one asking the questions (laughs), this time it’s the
opposite and it’s tricky because it’s a personal question. Nevertheless, I hope
I have answered your question.
What do you think is the relationship
between journalism and human rights today? And what are the main problems of
Already, the concept of human rights is biased because it is misused. We
have seen criminal interventions such as those by the Americans in Iraq or the
French in Libya, and many others, under the pretext of “human rights”
and “democracy”. We have even seen the emergence of the concept of
“humanitarian intervention” theorized by the sinister Bernard
Kouchner. There is also the famous “creative chaos” of the no less
sinister Condoleezza Rice and the American neocons. Unfortunately, “human
rights” are nowadays used to invade and destroy countries. It is
noticeable how this concept of human rights is used with variable geometry when
it comes to the rights of the Palestinian people, for example, which poses a
major problem regarding the definition of these human rights in the current
political context. What are human rights?
The role of a journalist is to inform
objectively while respecting professional ethics. He must be a truth teller, a
Unfortunately, many journalists are
hostages of their career, they are locked in their editorial offices which are
in the pay of financial lobbies, and can’t exercise their profession freely, so
they can’t inform. They often become instruments of propaganda rather than
information tools, genuine watchdogs.
In short, in our capitalist society, the concept of human rights is
distorted and independent journalism does not exist. In order for both to
exist, there has to be a change of the system. Media in the service of big
business cannot produce independent journalism and a predatory capitalist
system that has become imperialist in order to capture markets internationally
cannot claim to serve human rights. In this context, the journalist simply
serves an oligarchy.
How difficult is it to move away from a Eurocentric
point of view in journalism? Which are the best strategies you can show to
Western journalists?
As I said in the previous answer, a
journalist who is not free and who does not exercise his profession freely
because his newspaper or television is linked to financial lobbies will not be
able to inform citizens. He will serve his employers and shareholders, and in
time he will become a propagandist, which is noticeable today in the mainstream
media, where lies are raging and the journalist has become a sounding board for
political power.
That’s not being a journalist and doing
journalism. Above all, one must be independent, free to move around, defend
one’s opinions, not negotiate one’s positions, not compromise or make
concessions, even if the price to be paid is to leave this profession. To
emancipate oneself from any kind of policy, Eurocentric or otherwise, is
impossible when one is not free oneself. In my opinion, freedom must be placed
above all else, i.e. at the slightest disagreement or pressure from the
shareholders of the newspaper or the media in general, you have to leave the
ship because there’s no point in struggling inside a newsroom, because there’s
a big deficit in solidarity among journalists. In the event of punishment,
everyone turns away from the person who is incriminated. In most editorials, it
is believed that there is harmony or synergy, but this is not true, it is an
illusion. On the contrary, there is fierce competition and this competition is
the matrix of the capitalist system. There is a definite lack of organization
within this profession. For example, there are strikes in many sectors but
never or very rarely in editorial offices, where workers experience difficult
working conditions on an equal footing with other citizens. As a result, the
disorganization of this profession benefits the establishment, the
shareholders, who make journalists work at low cost and in unsustainable
conditions: immense workload, availability at all times, etc. They are held by
the wallet. This profession is really in crisis, as can be seen, for example,
by the fall of the paper press, but also by other phenomena that are not
helping matters, such as the emergence of social networks that now compete with
the work of journalists. We are in the age of citizen journalism with all the
risks of receiving false information, poor analysis and so on. Although I
encourage citizens to be in the news, to be citizen journalists, they must have
a minimum of training and background to do this work.
The advice I can give to western
journalists is to not accept to be propaganda tools and to free themselves from
financial lobbies, and simply remain objective in processing information, which
is quite impossible in our time. I had the honor of interviewing two great
personalities: Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, and I advise journalists to
read their masterpiece which is Manufacturing
. I also advise them to take
an interest in the work of another great personality that I had the chance to
interview, William Blum, who was a precursor of the alternative press and who
wrote among other books Rogue State.
I would like to conclude my remarks by
saying that I protest against the treatment of Julian Assange, who has devoted
his life to informing and who is paying a heavy price in a prison. While he has
done a lot for freedom of speech, no media today is talking about Julian
Assange. They buried him alive. Talking about Julian Assange is doing
There is no explanation for this
silence, except that the media and politicians are all under the thumb of US
The Yemen war is a forgotten war and a forgotten
nightmare. What is the main problem of it and what is the solution?
The Yemen war began with a criminal
intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies, led by the United Arab Emirates,
against the Houthis.
The fundamental problem is this criminal
Saudi intervention which massacred the Yemeni people using depleted uranium and
there is talk of an appalling famine and various scourges affecting the
civilian population. The international community has turned a blind eye to this
criminal Saudi intervention and the abuses and even crimes against humanity
that it has provoked.
If there is silence about this war, it
is mainly due to the influence of the Saudi lobby in the United States. Today,
we are witnessing a real colonization of a part of Yemen including strategic
ports and cities by the United Arab Emirates. The Emiratis hid their game well
during the Saudi intervention and won the bet as the Saudis got nothing. On the
contrary, they were attacked on their own soil by the Houthi rebels. We can see
that Yemen is moving towards secession, as is currently happening in Libya. The
South and the North are divided. The Hadi government is taken hostage by the
Saudis, war is raging, the country is divided, and the Emiratis play a troubled
role by arming militias and occupying strategic towns and ports. The Saudi and
Emirati criminal intervention has led to a humanitarian catastrophe, a
political failure and risks leading to the partition of the country. The Yemeni
patriots must now expel the Saudi and Emirati occupiers from their soil. It is
up to them to decide their fate and resolve their problems in a political
manner by laying the groundwork for a serene dialogue with all the forces that
make up this country. In Yemen, the solution is not military, but eminently
The phrase of the Saudi king Abdelaziz ben Abderrahmane Al Saud, which
is transmitted between kings from generation to generation, is revealing:
“Your glory is in the humiliation of Yemen and your humiliation is the
glory of Yemen” (literal translation from Arabic). For me, this is a very
important sentence that explains the relations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen
and gives keys to understanding this war. I consider the Emiratis to be as
guilty as the Saudis and all the Arab countries that took part in this criminal
intervention. Just one last point: my country of origin, Algeria, was not part
of the accursed Saudi coalition and did not take part in the criminal war
against Yemen, and I am proud and happy about that.
The Western
Sahara is another forgotten problem. Why? And how to oppose to Moroccan imperialism?
The issue of Western Sahara, although a
UN decolonization issue, is forgotten because the Moroccan Makhzen lobby
corrupts and buys off European MPs, members of the US Congress and also
journalists. Morocco is experiencing economic and political problems with a
decadent monarchy that does not hesitate to repress protesters, particularly
from the Moroccan Rif, who are demanding their rights, and lobbying all over
the planet to stifle the legitimate question and the just cause of the Saharawi
people who must be able to dispose of itself. I interviewed several MEPs, some
of whom revealed to me the existence of Moroccan lobbying which is similar to
corruption which targets MEPs and we have seen the repercussions of these
practices with the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement. The corruption to which
Morocco is indulging and to which some politicians and MEPs are subjecting
themselves gives a poor image of democracy and politics in Europe. Does a
deputy who is mandated by his voters have the right to sell himself to third
countries and participate in crushing an entire people?
I will not
hide from you that I felt immense disgust at the practices of some European
politicians who support Moroccan colonialism at the expense of the just cause
of the Sahrawi people. Their behaviour is despicable and immoral.
Unfortunately, they engage in these practices while their peoples are not
informed of these malpractices. Thus, the Moroccan lobbies supported by the
Israelis and the Gulf countries are exerting pressure at all levels to ensure
that the Saharawi question is not settled and that the Saharawi people do not
recover its independence on its own territory.
facts tell us that Western Sahara has never belonged to Morocco.
Why does the world remain silent in the face of Moroccan occupation and
colonialism in Western Sahara? Simply because Morocco is the privileged ally
and vassal of Israel, the Saudis, the Emirates, and the Americans (I remind
that Morocco has just installed a military base conceived by the Israelis on
its border with Algeria. The Saharawi people, who is fighting for its freedom
and for its basic right to independence on its own territory, has found itself
faced with colonialism supported by world powers. That is why the solution is slow
in coming. Morocco is using all legal and above all illegal tricks to stop the
independence of this territory, to block any proposal towards the resolution of
the Western Sahara crisis, and this is why the UN envoys have failed. They have
not been able to work freely because Morocco has corrupted many European and
American officials. It impedes the completion of the process leading to the
decolonization of those Territories. The cause of the Saharawi people is just
and the Saharawi people want to live free on their territory. Morocco had no
business in Western Sahara.
How to counter Moroccan imperialism? In my opinion, it takes both a
political and a media battle to let the world know that a people has been
dispossessed of its land and is undergoing Moroccan colonialism. The political
fight is to support the Polisario Front, to recognize it and to make its
struggle known. The anti-imperialist political parties in the world must call
on their governments and put pressure on their leaders to counter the propaganda
of Moroccan imperialism and help the Sahrawi people regain its independence. It
is a just struggle that all anti-imperialists, all internationalists, all
freedom-loving people in the world must wage as much as the struggle for the
Palestinian people. On the economic level, I suggest boycotting, like BDS,
which is doing a remarkable job of boycotting Israeli products, all products
that come from the Sahrawi territories occupied by Morocco. This Moroccan
imperialism must be banished by all possible means and support the cause of the
Saharawi people until it regains its independence.
My country of origin, Algeria, has always been with the Saharawi people
in this struggle, just as it has always supported the Palestinian people. And
in this case, I am very satisfied with my country’s position.
For me there is no refugee but only the person. How
to struggle against racism and discrimination in the Western World today?
Racism is rooted in Western society; we have recently seen the global
impact of the assassination of George Floyd. I believe that the best way to
combat the harmful scourges of racism and discrimination is through education.
If the family plays a role, the school must also do so by offering programs
that tell the truth, for example about colonization and slavery. This is very
important and it starts there. To fight racism, the best thing is knowledge,
education, culture, because racism is only the gross expression of filthy
ignorance. A great deal of work also needs to be done to raise awareness about
the causes of immigration, which are closely linked to geopolitical phenomena,
such as military interventions and wars generated by Western imperialist
policies, and conflicts that serve the interests of the multinationals that
monopolize the wealth of the African and other continents. There is also the
support of Western governments for the despots who are leading their countries
to both political and economic disaster and causing the departure of hundreds
of thousands of desperate people with no future. The sad paradox is that Africa
is a continent which is rich for the multinationals but poor for the African
people. I think that in the future we will also have to fear a new type of
immigration with global warming, which will push many populations to move and
which will pose great problems.