Information on the Beni Mzab tribe, specifically on their treatment by the government and the Islamists [DZA22872.E]

Information on this subject is scarce.

The following information was provided during a 31 January 1996 telephone interview with a professor of political science at St. John's University in New York state, who is a specialist on Islamist movements in Algeria.

The source stated that it is very unlikely the Beni Mzab clan had clashes or particular difficulties with the government. However, the Beni Mzab did have clashes with the Islamists, especially during the 1990 election. Similar incidents occurred in 1993 in the Beni Mzab town of Regan. The source added that since the above incidents there have no reports of similar clashes involving the Islamists and the Beni Mzab. The Beni Mzab are not known to be politically active in the current Algerian strife.

The Beni Mzab is a small clan that is geographically centred around the city of Ghardia. The notion of "hard work" is highly valued in the Beni Mzab culture, and they are known for this quality among the Algerian population. The Beni Mzab are mainly traders.

There are few intermarriages with other Berber clans or with the Arabs.

The Beni Mzab are a "highly religious people" and are part of the Islamic sect of the "Ibdite" that is associated with the Shi'a movement. The source stated that religious beliefs and ideology were not factors in the clashes between the Beni Mzab and the Islamists.

The Beni Mzab are not a well-known clan mainly because they are a reclusive group and are very placid. The source stated that disturbances affecting the Beni Mzab would very likely be caused by factors external to the clan.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Professor of political science, St. John's University, New York State. 31 January 1996. Telephone interview.