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ConIFA World Football Cup 2018: Who are Kabylie?

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As part of The National Student's coverage of the ConIFA World Football Cup, were are giving you a lowdown on all 16 teams in the tournament. This time, we introduce you to Kabylie and the history of the Kabyle people of Algeria. 

Who are they?

The Kabylie region is a historical cultural region within Algeria, part of the Tell Atlas mountain range and bordering the Medditareanen Sea.

Algeria is split into 48 provinces. Kabylie covers two of these, Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia. It covers most of Bouira as well as parts of Boumerdes, Jijel, Setif and Bordj Bou Arreridj. This gives the region a combined population of around 7.5 million. 

It also features two of Algeria's national parks: Gouraya and Djurdjura. 

The region was once part of the Roman Empire, however, a local Berber tribe attempted to drive the Romans out. They themselves were driven back to the Sahara Desert. 

The coastal and mountainous regions offer a strong defence, meaning much of the region was able to resist Ottoman invasion. It was the last part of Algeria to fall to the French.  There were many uprisings after the land was confiscated for European settlers, several Kabyles being deported to New Caledonia. 

During the war for independence, several major Front Liberation Nationale leaders came from the region and it was where the FLN had its' first conference. The mountainous terrain was very useful. 

After the war, the region's relationship with Algiers deteriorated. The Socialist Forces Front backed by a majority of Kabyles opposed the FLN's one-party state policy. This resulted in armed confrontations where hundreds died and resulted in the persecution of FLN leaders in Kabylie. 

Riots broke out when a conference to celebrate Kabylie culture was banned in 1980. In 1989 with the one-party system over, a new party was set up. The Rally for Culture and Democracy which opposed percieved Arabization. During the Algerian Civil War, there was a boycott of schools for a whole academic year. In 1998, a law declaring Arabic must be used as the language in education heightened tensions.

In 2002, Tamazight, a Berber language spoken by many Kabyles was recognised as an official language alongside Arabic. In 2001, the Movement for Autonomy in Kabylie was formed, and since 2011, there has been an active campaign for independence. 

The team and their ConIFA history 

This will be Kabylie's first appearance at the tournament. They qualified through African regional qualification, due to security reasons, Kabylie have requested ConIFA do not publicly name their squad until the tournament kicks off.

Algerian authorities have reportedly arrested and interrogated for up to 15 hours, members of the team and the FA President Aksel Bellabacci. Families of players based in Algeria have reported being visited by secret service and police officials who have threatened them to dissuade involvement with the team. 

Famous Kabyles

Football stars Zinedine Zidane, Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema are all of Kabylie descent. Other notable individuals include French acting legend Isabelle Adjani, born in Paris to a father from the region, music producer DJ Snake and Hocine Ait Ahmed, founder of the historic opposition in Algeria. 

Image Credit - Flickr Commons, PhR610. Pexels. 

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