A Long, Hot Summer

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Whether he caressed a tender love song or cried a lament for his homeland, the singer Matoub Lounès could stir the feelings of Berber-speaking Algerians. When shadowy commandos assassinated the 42-year-old folk hero three years ago June 25, he instantly became a martyr for the Berber cause.

This year, the protests that accompany the emotional commemorations of his death started a little early. In fact, the demonstrations first erupted April 18, after an 18-year-old Berber high school student died from injuries sustained in police custody in the mountainous region of Kabylie, a Berber strip along the Mediterranean. Soon...