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Why “sausage” is a political buzzword in Algeria

Why “sausage” is a political buzzword in Algeria

Political protests are a tasty opportunity for word play

Political protests are a tasty opportunity for word play

Lane Greene | August/September 2019

كشير  kashir

1. sausage (noun)

ka-’shir

Why are Algerians waving sausages at demonstrations? Protesters dangle bangers as bait from the end of fishing lines, and kashir, which means sausage in the local dialect, has become a political buzzword in Algeria.

Protesters had long called for the departure of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s president since 1999, who had clung to power despite being so infirm that he hadn’t given a speech in public for more than four years. Mass protests earlier this year gave bite to their bark. Fighting back, Bouteflika’s backers started trying to lure young people to pro-regime rallies – without revealing the nature of the events – by offering free sausage sandwiches. Neither the sandwiches nor Bouteflika’s promise that he wouldn’t run for a fifth term satisfied their hunger for change: in April the president resigned and the army now runs the show.

Demonstrations continue, complete with sarcastic sausages warning those in charge that Algerians cannot be bought: think of kashir as Arabic for “bread and circuses”. In Arabic, as in English, sausage has other associations too, including with maleness. One protester in Algiers held up a sign with the words “sausage slices”, a stark message to all members of the government.