World Press Photo 2020

Long-term Projects Winner

Young people make up more than half of Algeria’s population and, according to a Unesco report, 72 per cent of people under 30 in Algeria are unemployed. Pivotal moments in Algerian history, such as the "Black October" revolt of 1988, have had angry youth at their core. Black October was harshly suppressed - more than 500 people were killed in five days - and was followed by a "black decade" of violence and unrest.

Thirty years on, the effects of that decade are still present. In a traumatised country, high unemployment leads to boredom and frustration in everyday life and many young people feel disconnected from the state and its institutions. Football, for many young men, becomes both an identity and a means of escape, with quasi-political groups of fans known as "ultras" playing a large and sometimes violent role in protests. In neglected working-class neighbourhoods such as Bab el-Oued in Algiers, young people often seek refuge in diki - private places that are "bubbles of freedom" away from the gaze of society and from conservative social values.

But the sense of community and solidarity is often not enough to erase the trials of poor living conditions. In February 2019, thousands of young people from working-class neighbourhoods again took to the streets in what became a nationwide challenge to the reign of long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.


An old man sitting on a staircase in Bab el-Oued in Algiers, Algeria, on May 31, 2014, as women wearing niqabs descend. Niqabs have become more popular in Bab el-Oued over the past 20 years. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


A young couple challenging a taboo as they kiss in a public space in Algiers, Algeria, on Dec 8, 2016. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


Friends relaxing and watching television in their diki, a private space they have created in a converted storeroom, in Bab el-Oued, Algeria, on Dec 6, 2016. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


A young man gathering an audience as he experiments with a trumpet in the crowded "Climat de France" quarter of Bab el-Oued in Algiers, Algeria, on Dec 8, 2014. Nobody knows how to play the instrument, but it generates widespread enthusiasm. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


Young people watching a football match, screened at the Olympia cinema in Algiers, Algeria, on March 16, 2016. The cinema broadcasts European matches several times a week. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


Football fans gathering in the street and singing during a match that is taking place behind closed doors because of violence in Algiers, Algeria, on Nov 22, 2014. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


Ultra fans singing during a football match in the 5 July 1962 Stadium in Algiers, Algeria, on Dec 22, 2015. After street demonstrations were banned in 2001, football stadiums became places where youth could protest through song. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE


Ultras chanting insults against the state, the president, generals and the police during the final of the Algerian Cup in Algiers on May 1, 2016. PHOTO: © ROMAIN LAURENDEAU, FRANCE