Could I defend my father from the Armed Islamic Group with a paring knife?
This was the question I pondered on Tuesday June 29, 1993. That day I woke up early in Dad’s apartment, on the outskirts of Algiers, Algeria, to an unrelenting pounding on the front door. It had been exactly two weeks since the murder of Dr. Mahfoud Boucebsi, the country’s leading psychiatrist, and one week since the assassination of Mohamed Boukhobza, a sociologist and former colleague of my father’s at the University of Algiers. As a local newspaper described the season, “at the time, every Tuesday a scholar fell to the bullets of…fundamentalist assassins.” Boucebsi and Boukhobza, and others, had been killed that year by the Muslim fundamentalist armed groups that plagued Algeria’s predominantly Muslim population. The learned Dr. Boukhobza was tied up in front of his daughter and had his throat cut.