This June 25 will mark 14 years since the assassination of Lounes Matoub (June 25th, 1998). The Amazigh World News would like to cease this opportunity to honor the man who loved his land, people and identity enough to sacrifice himself for it.We also would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our own commitment to the ideals we share with Matoub Lounes.
Who’s Matoub ?
Matoub Lounes was a famous Amazigh (Berbere) Kabyle singer and Poet (writing songs for other artists) who was a prominent advocate of the Berber cause and secularism in Algeria throughout his life.
Born in the village of Taourirt Moussa in Algerian Kabylia. His political and cultural identity was awakened by armed confrontations between Kabyles and government forces in 1963–1964.
He is revered as a hero and martyr in Kabylie and the Amazigh World for his militant advocacy of Berber rights. His assassination, in circumstances which remain unclear, provoked violent riots in Kabylie. Berber Algerians still accuse the Algerian regime of killing Matoub Lounès, but some of the Algerian regime’s figures accused the Islamist terrorists of this crime.
He gave his first major concert in April 1980, at the time of the “Berber Spring” protest movement in Kabylie.
His music mixes oriental Chaabi orchestration with politicized Berber (Tamazight) lyrics, and covers a broad variety of topics including the Berber cause, democracy, freedom, religion, Islamism, love, exile, memory, history, peace and human rights. Unlike the Amazigh poet/musicians who preceded him, Matoub’s style was direct and confrontational.
In 1994, he published his autobiography entitled Rebelle. He went straight. He goes black and white. He was very, very clear in his songs, and he is the only singer who criticized the government clearly.
Despite being banned from Algerian radio and television, Matoub became, and remains, an extremely popular Kabyle singer.
His assassination, in circumstances which remain unclear, provoked violent riots in Kabylie. Amazigh (Berber) Algerians still accuse the Algerian regime of killing Matoub Lounès, but some of the Algerian regime’s figures accused the Islamist terrorists of this crime.
On 25 June 1998, Matoub’s car was stopped at a roadblock while.The car was fired upon by masked gunmen, killing Matoub and wounding his wife, Nadia Matoub, and two sisters-in-law. A week of violent riots followed his death. On 28 June 1998 tens of thousands people attended his funeral in front of his house in his native village. Matoub’s assassination occurred a week before a law excluding languages other than Arabic from public life was due to come in to effect. Matoub had been an outspoken critic of this law.