After the successful overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt there are now signs that Algeria is going to be the next Arab country to see mass demonstrations for democratic reform. Algeria like Egypt is a police state, riddled with corruption and governed under ong standing state of emergency laws. Today there are reports of a large anti-government protest in the capital Algeria.
Chanting "no to the police state" and "Bouteflika out" thousands of demonstrators were initially outnumbered by riot police and struggles broke out.
Pro-democracy demonstrators in Algeria can look to their colleagues in Egypt for lessons on how to conduct an inclusive non-violent revolution of course but the conditions in each country are perhaps not identical.
Unlike Egypt, Algeria has a recent history of extensive political violence and has in the past been on the brink of having a democratic system. In 1991 an Islamist group won the first round of democratic elections but the military stepped in and cancelled the next stage of the elections. The ensuing Islamist insurgency and Algerian civil war saw the death of around 160,000 people over the next decade.
In the context of such recent large scale and deadly internal conflict a generally restrained response from the regime is much less certain than it was in Egypt. The pro-democracy movement in Algeria will know that they have a huge hill to climb if they are to persuade the Algerian people to set aside their real fear of widespread political violence.
It will be interesting to see in the coming days if the pro-democracy movement in Algeria can create the sort of momentum that ultimately toppled the Mubarak regime.