Algeria: Culture Minister Steps Down After Rap Concert Stampede Kills 5 

A picture shows on August 23, 2019, the exterior of Algiers' August-20 Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed rap concert the previous night. - The stampede took place as fans thronged an entrance of the stadium where rapper Soolking …
RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty

The culture minister of Algeria resigned over the weekend after a stampede at a packed concert by prominent French-based rapper Soolking killed five people.

On Saturday, Culture Minister Meriem Merdaci handed her resignation to the country’s Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported.

Most Algerians still speak the language of their former colonial master France.

On Friday, Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui reportedly fired the head of the government body in charge of organizing concerts, Sami Benchik el Hocine. The interim president also sacked Algeria’s police chief, Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba, on Saturday.

Culture Minister Merdaci quit his post in the wake of public outrage over the stampede in the Algerian capital of Algiers on Thursday. The victims were between the ages of 13 and 22.

BBC explains:

Thousands had gathered at a stadium to see Abderraouf Derradji, better known as Soolking, perform when a stampede broke out at one of the entrances.

French-based Soolking, 29, is a huge star in the North African state.

His song La Liberte, or Freedom, is often heard at protests that have been taking place in Algeria every Friday to demand political reforms following the forced resignation of long-serving ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April.

Algerian authorities have opened an investigation into the deadly incident, citing security lapses.

A picture shows on August 23, 2019, flyers of rapper Soolking lying on the ground outside Algiers' August-20 Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed concert by the musician the previous night. - The stampede took place as fans thronged an entrance of the stadium where rapper Soolking was to perform. AFP there were five victims of the crush: "two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13, 21 and 16." (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP) (Photo credit should read RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images)

Flyers of rapper Soolking lying on the ground outside Algiers’ August-20 Stadium where five young people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed concert by the musician the previous night. The stampede took place as fans thronged an entrance of the stadium where rapper Soolking was to perform. AFP said there were five victims of the crush: “two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13, 21 and 16.” ( RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images)

Linda Chebbah, a journalist who attended the concert, told BBC she noticed something was wrong from that the start of the event.

“There were way too many people for this stadium. On the pitch, people were jostling for space. There were so many people at the concert, that I’m not surprised an accident happened,” she said.

Algeria has been engulfed in protests since February. Thousands of Algerians have taken to the streets.

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