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