Sadi, Said (1947–)

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Sadi, Said

Said Sadi is a psychiatrist and leader of the Algerian political party Rally for Culture and Democracy.


Said Sadi was born into a poor Berber family on 26 August 1947 in Aghribs, in Algeria's Kabylia region. He studied medicine at the University of Algiers in the late 1960s. In 1978, he began practicing medicine in Tizi-Ouzou.


A charismatic psychiatrist, he began his militant activities for cultural and workers' rights while a student in 1968 and joined the clandestine opposition party Front des Forces Socialistes (FFS; Socialist Forces Front). He strongly opposed single-party rule in Algeria and called for Berber cultural rights. One of the leaders of the 1980 Berber Spring uprising, he demanded recognition of the Berber language and culture within a democratic state. He was arrested that year, and went on to be jailed five times in the 1980s, the last time from 1985–1987.

Said subsequently broke with the FFS and joined a group of militants devoted to human rights and to cultural and women's issues. In 1985 they founded the Human Rights League. In 1989 Sadi founded and headed the Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Démo-cratie (RCD; Rally for culture and democracy), an outgrowth of the Berber movement. Sadi has been a staunch critic of both the regime and Algeria's Islamists. The RCD boycotted the 1991 legislative elections but participated actively in the November 1995 presidential election and the June 1997 legislative vote. Sadi obtained 10 percent of the votes cast for president in 1995. The RCD obtained nineteen seats at the assembly in 1997.

Sadi has equated Islamism with terrorism, which explains his support for the military against radical Islamism. Although he boycotted the 1999 presidential election, Sadi supported President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's program to reform the economy, justice and educational systems, and administration. Two members of the RCD served as ministers in the government. Sadi withdrew the RCD from the government because of the Kabylia crisis, triggered in April 2001 following the killing in Tizi-Ouzou of a youngster by the National Gendarmerie. The demonstrations and violence that developed following that incident revealed the regime's inability to provide adequate democratic institutions to represent the nation's diverse interests. Because of the acute crisis, the RCD boycotted the legislative and municipal elections in May and October 2002, respectively. Sadi has sided with the aruch (tribal councils) and called repeatedly for the end of repression. In April 2004, Said again ran unsuccessfully for president in the Algerian elections.


Sadi is known internationally for his staunch secularism, his defense of human rights, and his defense of Berber cultural rights in Algeria.


It is too early in Sadi's career and activities to assess his ultimate legacy.


"Algeria's Presidential Challengers." BBC News (9 April 2004):

                                        Yahia Zoubir

                         Updated by Michael R. Fischbach


Name: Said Sadi

Birth: 1947, Aghribs, Algeria's Kabylia region

Nationality: Algerian Berber

Education: Medical studies, University of Algiers


  • 1968: Joins the opposition group Front des Forces Socialistes
  • 1974: Practices medicine in Tizi-Ouzou
  • 1980: A leader of the Berber Spring movement in Algeria; arrested for the first time
  • 1985: Helps form the Human Rights League; arrested, spends two years in prison
  • 1989: Founds Rassemblement pour la Culture et la Démocratie
  • 1995: Runs unsuccessfully in Algerian presidential elections
  • 2004: Again runs unsuccessfully in Algerian presidential elections