Mustapha Berraf (Twitter) (Twitter)


After Algeria’s top sports official stood for Israel’s national anthem at a major event in France, he was shamed into stepping down for his gesture to the “Zionist enemy.”

By United with Israel Staff

President of the Algerian Olympic Committee Mustapha Berraf recently resigned amid outcries that he should never have stood up when Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikva,” was played at the Paris Grand Slam judo competition last month. The song was played following Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik winning the gold medal.

In conformance with recognized standards of sportsmanship, Berraf stood along with the rest of the crowd during the medal ceremony.

A video of the event was subsequently posted to YouTube, with the caption, “What does it mean if an Algerian official stands ready to acknowledge the Zionist enemy? Was it an individual act or part of Algerian diplomacy? And if the crime was in coordination with the bodies or institutions of the Algerian state, is this what the new Algeria preaches to the Algerians?”

According to the Inside the Games website, “Algerian media reported [Berraf] was subjected to a social media backlash after respecting the Israeli national anthem at the International Judo Federation Grand Slam event in Paris earlier this month.”

Algeria does not recognize the Jewish state and has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

While Berraf reportedly resigned after the video circulated, members of the Algerian Olympic Committee’s executive bureau eventually rejected his resignation, reported Arab sports website Kooora.

The board did not want Berraf’s resignation to affect Algerian athletes’ preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Jewish community in Algeria dated back to the first century CE. During the Spanish Inquisition, in the 15th century, many Jews from Spain and Portugal immigrated to Algeria.

In 1963, the country denied citizenship to all non-Muslims. This forced the majority of Jews living in Algeria at the time to move to France and Israel.

Over the past 15 years, the Algerian government has attempted to reduce discrimination against the minuscule Jewish community that lives there, which counts among its ranks only around 50 members. While Algeria and passed a law that recognizes freedom of religion, the country still maintains fierce anti-Israel sentiments.