Our intern knows a bit of French, and so I had her go through this performance by Fellag called ‘Un bateau pour l’Australie’ (A boat to Australia) which, although mentioning Australia in the title, uses it only as a symbol of hope for the Algerian “hittiste”.
This is an Arabic word given to those young people who are unemployed and wait, “backs against the wall”, “hitt” being “wall” in the Algerian dialect. Otherwise known as “muriste” in standard French.
The reference recalls an incident in 1987 when a rumour gripped Algeria that Australia was sending boats for these people, to whom jobs and money would be offered back in Australia. There was a riot outside the embassy.
These dreams are now coming true in Europe.