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Algerian artists demand end to 'terror' after death threat levied against novelist

Dozens of artists have come out in support of Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud, who was recently threatened by a Salafist imam
A popular author and journalist, Kamel Daoud's case has stirred outrage on social media (AFP)

Dozens of Algerian artists have urged the local authorities to protect them against "terror" in an open letter published online, after an Islamist called for a top author to be condemned to death.

In a joint statement addressed to the culture, religious affairs and communications ministers, around 50 singers, actors, authors and producers said "terror must be brought to a definitive end in Algeria".

"We await a real and clear answer, coherent action to halt the danger threatening artists and the country," the artists wrote.

On 16 Dcember, Salafist imam Abdelfatah Hamadache Ziraoui posted a statement on Facebook that called for the death of Algerian author and journalist Kamel Daoud.

Daoud filed an official complaint against Ziraoui the next day. "What can I do? It's the result of the feeling of impunity that Islamists enjoy in Algeria," Daoud said of the threat against him.

Ziraoui leads the Islamist Awakening Front, a Salafist group that is not officially recognised in Algeria, and which campaigns for a ban on alcohol and for modesty in public places.

He accused Daoud of apostasy for "waging war on Allah, his prophet, the Koran and the values sacred to Islam".

The case has stirred outrage on social media, while a petition in solidarity with Daoud has garnered over 5,500 signatures to date, and demands that the Algerian justice ministry press charges against Ziraoui.

The artists' statement made reference to the thousands of Algerians who were killed during the civil war in the 1990s between Islamists and the Algerian government.

"History cannot repeat itself... because we have all suffered together during years of chaos and barbarism, which took place only 15 years ago," the statement read.