Ahmed Ben Bella

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Ahmed Ben Bella

Ahmed Ben Bella (Arabic: أحمد بن بلّة) (25 December 191611 April 2012) was an Algerian politician, soldier, and socialist revolutionary who served as the first President of Algeria from 1963 to 1965. He is respected for his role in the anti-colonial struggle and was seen by many Arab intellectuals as one of the last original Arab nationalists.

Quotes[edit]

  • We must remember the obstacles of the era. The long walk to independence was not easy. The war did not unfold in a continuous manner. Forceps were required for the delivery. It was very difficult. There were periods that were hard, with abrupt stops and steps forward.
  • At that time, the fight was for the liberation of Algeria from the French. Now there is a fight to liberate the world from globalization.
  • Far from denying our option, Islam identifies itself with equality in the minds of the masses, and therefore moves towards socialism.
    • Algieria, Wydawnictwo Trio, Warszawa, pg. 415 (2006)
  • We have heard speeches delivered in which speakers questioned how to improve Africa's standard of living and what to do to make Africans eat better. How can you not be ashamed to say such things, how can you think about filling your belly when millions of our brothers groan in the prisons of colonialism? We don't have the right, I repeat, we don't have the right to talk about satiety until we get our brothers out of prison.
    • Se tutta l'Africa, Milano, pg. 54-55 (2018)
  • In the name of the Algerian people and of the million and a half victims who fell in the field with honor, I am obliged to declare that any Charter will remain a dead letter until we have taken concrete decisions and until we have taken concrete decisions and until we have granted peoples of Angola, South Africa, Mozambique and other countries the unconditional support that these nations, oppressed by the yoke of colonialism, have the right to expect.
    • Se tutta l'Africa, Milano, pg. 54-55 (2018)
  • Revolutions are very complex. Nothing is easy. Few people want to risk their necks. In 1962, Algeria was on its knees, a country that had lost 1,600,000 of its sons, masses of wounded and sick, 300,000 widows, 250,000 orphans, 120,000 returnees from Morocco and 500,000 persons from prisons, plus four million people who had fought against us and lost. People everywhere were armed and accustomed to fighting. At the same time, there was little money, chiefly a small amount donated by de Gaulle. There were few volunteers for this job and my friends were happy when I took it.
  • Islam as an idea has exploded on the world scene. Islam will soon be the world’s biggest religion. The demographic aspect alone is impressive. Moslems want to lead a Moslem way of life. Youth too wants to express its own vision of life within its day-to-day life, where every act is important, where dress is important, for Islam is a totality. Our orientation today toward a consumer society with Western ways is dangerous for us because it does not correspond to our philosophy that teaches us less consumption. Less consumption does not have to mean unhappiness. Since, the reality is that there is not enough to go around; consumption must be limited in the whole world.
  • The world is one great whole. The world is one. Enough of ‘this is mine’ and ‘that is yours.’ Private property must end. The world must change. We need world solidarity. The enormous amounts of petroleum money in the banks must be used for the world, without interest. The mission of Islam is to break the capitalist logic and end the subordination to the power of money. In that respect, Islam can help overcome differences, for Islam is tolerant.
  • I was always religious but I feel it more today because our epoch demands it. Keep in mind that Islam played a big role in the liberation of Algeria. I’m no Mullah, but I am a progressive Moslem. In that respect I am two times of the Left. Progressive Moslem culture offers a solution to many problems of the Third World. For example, it forbids usury and the hoarding of supplies and favors the circulation of surplus. That basic aspect of Islamic economics responds to the situation in the Third World. Even reactionary Islamic countries give much aid to needy countries.

Interview with Silvia Cattori (2006)[edit]

Mohamed Ahmed Ben Bella, sem data.tif

"Ahmed Ben Bella: 'I spent 24-and-half years in prison'"

  • My life has been a bit special, this is true. I participated in the liberation of my country. I was one of the organisers of its struggle for liberation. I likewise actively participated in all the struggles for liberation.
  • I paid much in my fight for justice and liberty of people. But clearly, I did what I felt to be a duty, an obligation. So, for me the choice was not difficult. When I was engaged in the struggle for my country, I was very young. My horizons were open. I quickly realised that the problems go beyond Algeria, that colonisation affected many people, that three-quarters of the countries in the world have been colonised in one way or another. Algeria was thus, for the French, a department overseas; it was the France located on the other side of the Mediterranean. The French colonisation of Algeria lasted a long time: 132 years. I participated in that fight right in Algeria.
  • Immediately after independence, I was associated with all those who, in the world, themselves undertook the struggle to liberate their own country. It was thus this phase in the fight for national liberty that I participated completely. In Tunisia, in Morocco, in Vietnam, Algeria has become somewhat like the "mother of freedom struggles"; to support them was thus for us a sacred mark. When someone came to ask us for help, it was sacred. We did not even think twice. We helped them, even if we had only meagre means; we offered them arms, a little bit of money, and in occasion, men.
  • My fight to bring better conditions of life to Algerians thus plunged into great poverty, and my fight to help other still colonised people to recover their freedom bothered certain authorities. From their point of view, I had gone too far. I had to disappear. That is to say, if the Algerian army had not overthrown me, others would have done so. I had to disappear, because I had become too much of a nuisance. I accommodated practically all of the liberation movements, including those of Latin America.
  • The global system presiding over everything, as we have said, invented another form of domination: globalisation. "Globalisation" is a very nice word in itself. A word which can unite, can bring brotherhood among people. But, the word "globalisation" such as it is conceived, is a word that brings just the worst. With this word there has been brought the globalisation of misery, death, hunger: 35 million people die of malnutrition every year. Yes, that would be a very nice word, if we had globalised for the better, brought well-being for all. But, it’s the contrary. It’s a perverse globalisation; it globalises the bad, it globalises death, it globalises poverty.
  • I myself, speaking as a man of the south, note that something has changed in the north, which is a very important point to raise. What changed exactly in this so-called advanced region of the north: that we have made a war, we have colonised, that we have done terrible things, and that there is today an opinion that is expressed, that there are young people who say "enough." This indicates that this perverse global system does not strike only the south but also the north. In the past, we spoke of poverty, misery only in the south. Now there is a lot of misery, a lot of bad that creates victims in the north as well. This has become manifest: the global system was not made to serve the good of all, but to serve multinational companies.
  • I want to talk about what I observe here, in the West. I am convinced that the liberal system does not have a future. These young people, these high school students who I’ve seen go out onto the streets, who have nothing but their ideal of justice; these youths who demonstrate, who are on a quest for other values, I would love to say to them: "I began like that, when I was your age, by small steps. And little by little it was a mass of people who followed me." When I go to demonstrations, I observe them, I speak with them, and I see that it’s them who hold the cards in their hands.
Ahmed Ben Bella aux USA, oct.1962.jpg
  • We did not want a biased solidarity. We did not want a State that, like Israel, would be a favourite tool of this cruel global system driven by the United States, which practices a policy that has already caused so much harm. For us, it’s a double betrayal. First of all, the betrayal of those who, on the side of the left, should have been on our side, loyal to the Palestinian and Arab causes, and were not. Secondly, the betrayal of all the Jews with whom we felt close, with whom we had similarities, and with whom we lived in perfect harmony. The Arabs and the Jews are cousins. We speak the same language. They are Semites like us. They themselves speak Aramaic, we speak Aramaic.
  • I am a Muslim, but I do not wish that the response be religious. It’s not the religious act in itself that I reject, no, but the fact that we can make a reading of it that does not follow the sense of renovating Islam, that we can make a retrograde reading of Islam; even though in Islam we have the advantage of believing in two religions: the Jewish religion and the Christian religion. For us, Mohammed is only a continuum of Jesus Christ and Moses.
  • The violence expressed in the Arab Muslim world is a result of the culture of hate and violence that Israel has caused in imposing itself by force on the land of Arabs. These are the atrocities of this illegal State that compels the most valorous to react. I don’t think there will be a fight more noble than that of the Palestinians who resist against their occupier. When I see what these people have endured for more than a century, and who continue to find the force to fight, I am in admiration. Today, the same ones who massacre these people pass off those of Hamas as fascists, terrorists. They are not fascists, they are not terrorists, they are resistants!
  • We never act with the thought that it’s us who are going to be the beneficiaries. We act because it’s necessary to act. The great conquests have never been the product of a single generation. We say in my country that he who eats is not he who serves the meal. It’s necessary to create a network of solidarity that unconditionally supports the struggle of its people.
  • Oh, you know, I’m nothing but optimistic: I’ve spent my life in acting. I am not satisfied making speeches, I devote all of my time in acting by means of the organisation North-South. Also, I believe that, sometimes, the forces of hope come from where we least expect them.
  • To reach peace, in Palestine and the world, the system of the marketplace needs to be rid of. Because the problems are immense, the damage is immense. Leaving the world in the hands of finance and murderers is a crime. It’s that which is terrorism. It’s not Bin Laden.
  • Safeguarding life, to live, is the first of things for which one aspires. But the global system is not humble enough to guarantee this right. It exploits, it kills. And when it can’t kill, it builds savage prisons, abuse which pretends to bring about democracy. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States started to do what Israel always had done against the Palestinians. One speaks of Israeli and American democracy. But what democracy have they brought while destroying any chance to live?
  • I am going to tell you, although Islam has encountered so many woes, Islam has never done wrong to other counties. In history, Islam showed a tolerance that does not exist at all elsewhere, whereas Israel has succeeded in establishing itself by force in a space and in a place which was inhabited by Palestinians - one of the most developed Arab people - and created there, in the dispossession of their land, a racist state. As long as Israel will refuse to recognize the rights of Palestinians to exist and come back to their land, there will not be peace in the world.

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