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Last updated: 11 march, 2011 - 14:59 GMT

Algeria: living in fear

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The Algerian novelist Boualem Sansal is watching events closely as they unfold in neighbouring Libya as he knows only too well what can happen when violent divisions rip through your homeland.

Boualem spent most of his life as a low profile civil servant, but the assassination of President Boudiaf in 1992 and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism drove him to become a writer.

He witnessed Algeria's bloody civil war between 1991 and 2002 when more than 150 000 people died in the fighting between the military and Islamic militants and the economy was shattered.

Today, Algeria is still struggling to recover from the physical and mental horrors of that conflict.

Living in fear

As a writer, Boualem's outspoken views have made him a lot of enemies.

His most recent book, Unfinished Business, is about the two sons of a former Nazi SS officer who escaped justice after the Second World War by hiding in a remote part of Algeria.

Addressing the issue of the holocaust in the Arab world is a highly controversial, and it is said his views equate Islamic fundamentalism with Nazism.

Due to this, his books have been banned in his homeland since 2006, he and his family have often been threatened, and his home is protected by high walls and barbed wire.

Boualem Sansal came into the Outlook studio with his translator Frank Wynne and described to Lucy Ash what it was like to live through such challenging times.


First broadcast 11 March 2011

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