Ferhat Mehenni

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Photo taken at the gathering of 4 September 2011 on the Plaza of Human Rights in Paris

Ferhat Mehenni, also known as Ferhat Imazighen Imula, is a Kabyle singer and political activist and the founder and first President of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie.[1] Since 1 June 2010 he has been the President of the Provisional Government of Kabylia, a government in exile that the movement set up in France.[1] He has been a Laureate of the Gusi Peace Prize since 23 July 2013.

In 2012, Mehenni traveled to Israel and voiced his support for and solidarity with Israel, comparing it to Kabylie: "We are in a hostile environment. Both countries share kind of the same path, but Israel already exists – that’s the only difference."[2]


Mehenni was born on 5 March 1951 in Illoula Oumalou, Tizi Ouzou Province, Algeria. Having graduated from the University of Algiers with a degree in political science, Mehenni made his first steps into the world of music in 1973[3] by winning the Algiers Modern Music Festival's first prize. It was soon after this success that he began his career as a protest singer and political activist. He was notably hostile towards the Algerian government and Islamists; this led to him being arrested 13 times, imprisoned for three years, and tortured by government forces.[4] After the Black Spring massacre in Kabylie triggered by the Algerian gendarmes' killing of a young Kablye man, Massinissa Guermah in detention, he established the MAK, Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie, a political movement calling for self-government in Kabylia. The assassination of his eldest son (Améziane Mehenni) in 2001 is regarded by some as a punishment to his fight for autonomy. Though others suspect it was a case of mistaken identity and that Ferhat was the real target.[3]


  • Tuγac n ddkir "Songs of steel, love and liberty" (1994)
  • Tuγac n tmes d waman "Songs of Fire and Water" (1996 and 2001)
  • I Tmurt n Leqvayel "Hymn to Kabylia" (2002)
  • Adekker d usirem "Requiem and Hope" (2004)

Mehenni comes from an oral tradition where the song acts like the newspaper or political speeches in European societies.

Mehenni is primarily a political activist who, living in a society with strong oral traditions, uses music to convey those ideas. It is quite difficult to separate the politician from the singer.


Mehenni is the author of Algérie : La Question Kabyle, published in 2004, in which he explains his ideas about Kabyle nationalism.


  1. ^ a b "FRANCE – ALGERIA: Kabyle separatists set up their own government in France". Herald de Paris. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  2. ^ Sharon Udasin; Jan Koscinski (2007-05-27). "Algeria's Kabylie craves friendship with Israel". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Dissident watch: Ferhat Mehenni". Middle East Quarterly. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  4. ^ "Dissident watch: Ferhat Mehenni". Middle East Quarterly. 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2010-11-01.