{ al hogra (الحكرة) }


Widely used in North-African societies, this word comes originally from the Arabic noun “Ihtiqaar” (إحتقار), meaning contempt. In the Maghrebi dialects spoken in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, the term expresses different feelings ranging from injustice, indignation, resentment, humiliation to oppression. It was originally used in relation to daily life situations, before becoming a more political term that describes a continuing state of contempt and humiliation for the whole society. In this context of power structures, “Al Mahgor” is the person or the entity experiencing “Al Hogra,” and “Al Hagar” refers to the person or the entity that is inflicting it.

“Al Hogra” was used for the first time as a politically charged word in Algeria, during the riots of 1988. The term made a strong “comeback” in North Africa during the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011. First in Tunisia, when public opinion used it to describe the situation of Mohammed Bouazizi, the street vendor who set himself on fire in 2010 after being slapped in the face and spat on by a female municipal officer. During the demonstrations that took place before and after his death, the concept was used in many chants. Over the following months, “Al Hogra” was cited as the main reason behind the uprisings of the February 20 Movement in Morocco, as well as the Rif Hirak Movement, which has been denouncing the economic and social injustices in the north of the country since 2016. More recently, it has been at the heart of the peaceful protests that have been taking place in Algeria since February 2019. In all of these examples, “Al Hagar” is seen as being the state, or the system of power that controls and dominates Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian citizens.

“Al Hogra” is a key-concept to understand the reasons behind the current tense social and political climate in North Africa.


Meryem Saadi