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sheep fighting in algeria

How is Sheep Fighting Done in Algeria?

Algeria has battled lawlessly over the years the economic struggles of their country like suppression of the state, lack of jobs for the people, and tension on borders. Having strict marshals that supervise the country, young men found a scapegoat through sheep fighting. What was it? And how was this done?

Sheep fighting is not actually legal in Algeria. Although gambling is not involved. The sheep that loses the fight is slaughtered and the winning sheep’s value is increased. They are also given names that instill fear like Hitler, Lawyer, or Ebola.

How Did Sheep Fighting Start?

The Algerian Civil War was an armed conflict between the Algerian government and various Islamist rebel groups which began in 1991. The war is estimated to have cost between 150,000 and 200,000 lives since it started.

The conflict effectively ended with a government victory, following the surrender of the Islamic Salvation Army and the 2002 defeat of the Armed Islamic Group. However, low-level fighting still continues in rural areas. 

Young men from Algeria found an abandoned runaway, it was something to keep them busy and escape from the controlling government. They started to dabble in sheep fighting. They would train sheep for combat belonging to a lost generation of Algerians. Unfortunately now, in their 20s and 30s, they are molded by an era of fear, fighting, corruption and curfews. 

Because of Algeria’s state, there are few jobs and no productive roles for them to play in society. These boys lack relevant skills and education and most of them are unmarried. While they are not poor by most standards, they depend on state subsidies that allow them to buy fuel, food, and affordable housing. They feel disposable, purposeless, and humiliated. Most feel the future lies elsewhere. 

The fights are constantly being banned but the Algiers conducted their gaming elsewhere up to

The eastern port city of Annaba holds matches on hilltops, football pitches and school courtyards. 

These range from the amateurish neighborhood fights, which draw a few hundred local men, to the grand African championship tournaments held a few times a year in either Algeria or Tunisia, which attract thousands from all over North Africa. (Source: The Guardian)

Why Does the Government Allow Sheep Fighting if it is Truly Illegal?

While sheep fighting is technically illegal, authorities allow fans of the sport to continue their fun in unauthorized locations each week. The government of Algeria’s toleration of sheep fighting is a tacit acknowledgment that outlets for male aggression are needed.

Letting these guys have their fun reduces violence in other contexts, authorities prefer they get swept up in spectacles rather than politics.

Youcef Krache, an Algierian Photographer.

It is concluded that the authorities allow the sheep fighting because it means a lot to these people.

Algerian authorities have tried several methods to manage Algerian men, most recently corrupting them with oil rent. With oil prices down, there is less money and they’re more likely to have to use repressive force. Young men who have been humiliated will have to rebuild their battered masculinity. Violence is the only form of expression they have left. 

Fatma Oussedik, Sociologist and Professor at the University of Algiers.

 (Source: The Guardian)

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