'What will they do on a nice sunny rainy day?': Algeria vows to ban rainbows from Algerian market
Algeria's ministry of commerce vowed to ban all products with rainbow colours, including Qurans editions, from the country's market to 'protect' the Algerian society from "the danger of homosexuality".
"We seized 38,542 items bearing these [rainbow] colours, including school items, children's toys, as well as 4,561 copies of the Koran [in rainbow colours]," said Kamel Rezig, the Algerian minister of commerce said during a speech at the ministry's headquarters in Algiers.
Tuesday marked the start of the Algerian authorities' crusade against 'the rainbow,' which will be accompanied by a week-long campaign to raise awareness among Algerian merchants about 'the dangers of selling products in rainbow colours.'
The ministry has mobilised nine regional directorates and the fifty-eight wilayas [provinces] for this 'cause.'
"We must stop the spread of products containing these colours and symbols carrying the same connotations and aiming to instil the same ideas in the younger generations," said Kamel Rezig, the Algerian minister of commerce, Monday in a speech at the ministry's headquarters in Algiers.
Over social media, the decision to ban the rainbow triggered criticism and mockery against the Algerian minister of commerce, who is known for his populist statements.
"And what will Rezig do on a nice sunny rainy day? Regression, underdevelopment, obscurantism, ignorance, mediocrity, withdrawal, populism, extremism (…). Every day Algeria is humiliated a little more because of these decisions," wrote Sofia Djama, an Algerian director and scenarist, in a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, the Algerian LGBTQAI+ community considered the authorities' decision as a dangerous legitimisation of violence and discrimination against the queer community in a country where homophobia plagues society.
"The problem with this argument is that it appeals to the conservative press and rigorist Islamists since it is a perfect argument to legitimise violence against queer people not simply through questions of 'unnatural', 'contrary to Islam' but in a fight against the so-called decadent morality of the West," a spokesperson from Queers of North Africa, an NGO based in several North African cities shading light of queers people in the region, told The New Arab.
Queers of North Africa argue that nationalising and Islamising "the fight against homosexuality" will further worsen the situation of the Algerian queer community, who are forced to pretend to be heterosexual to preserve their jobs and their lives.
Homosexuality is considered a crime under Algerian law. Article 338 stipulates that "anyone guilty of an act of homosexuality is sentenced to imprisonment of two months to two years and to the payment of a fine which varies between 500 (US$3.5) and 2,000 dinars (US$14.5)."
Meanwhile, article 333 punishes "any person who commits an indecent public offence" and if this "insult" is committed with "an individual of the same sex", the penalty incurred is "imprisonment from six months to three years and a fine from 1,000 (US$7) to 10,000 dinars (US$72)."