Ironically, on July 4, 1996, when Americans celebrated the birth of their democracy, in Algiers, authorities smothered free speech by suspending La Tribune, the main French-language newspaper. They closed the editorial office because of a cartoon drawn by Lamari Chawki, who had mocked the country's flag just two days earlier. The Paris based international media watchdog Reporters without Borders protested the cartoonist's arrest with a letter to Algerian President Liamine Zeroual. In the end, Chawki received a three-year suspended prison term.
Sid Ali Malouah, considered the foremost cartoonist and comics artist in Algeria, has incurred the wrath of the Moslem fundamentalists. Due to several attempts on his life, he was forced to go underground.
A pattern of violence committed against the Algerian secular intelligentsia continues as Guerrovi Brahim, cartoonist for the pro-government Algerian daily El Moudjahid, was kidnapped on September 2nd, and found executed near his home in a southern suburb of Algiers. He was 40 years old.