Algerian Minister of Communications Naser Mehal faced harsh criticism for inviting expatriate Jewish singer Enrico Macias to visit the country, officials said.
Macias, denounced in Algeria for his pro-Israel stance, was banned from entering the country, in 2000 and 2007. Both times, massive demonstrations were held to protest his being hosted, Al-Arabiya reported.
However, Mehal claimed in an interview with Radio Orient that, “Nobody banned Macias from entering the country in which he was born and raised."
"All French citizens are welcome in Algeria and this includes Macias," he stated.
Political analyst Abdul Aali Razaki acknowledged that Algerians "are known for their dislike of all things Jewish."
A prominent Algerian activist who goes by the name “Algerie Salah de Londre” posted a video on YouTube slamming the invitation, asserting that the protests were not a product of the artist’s Jewish identity, but a result of his support for the State of Israel.
Mehal said Macias had planned to visit Algeria in 2000 but changed his mind after Algerians staged street protests, demanding he be banned from the country. In 2007, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy included Macias in his official delegation for a visit to Algeria but the singer declined after then-Algerian Prime Minister Abdel Aziz Belkhadem threatened to boycott the Sarkozy's visit.