Mayor criticised over Algeria visit to Islington Town Hall

AN Algerian secretary of state failed to turn up to an Islington Town Hall reception on Monday amid controversy over his invitation.

Halilm Ben Atallah, the secretary of state for National Community Abroad, could not make the event, organised by the Mayor of Islington, Councillor Mouna Hamitouche, but the Algerian Ambassador did appear.

Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group, had refused to attend after recent crackdowns on anti-government protesters in Algiers, the capital of the North African country.

Councillor Stacy said: “I have the utmost respect for our Mayor, but I think it’s slightly tactless to host a reception for a representative of a government that is clamping down on protesters fighting for democracy.”

An Islington Council spokesman said Councillor Hamitouche, the first Algerian mayor in the UK, has a long history of promoting democracy in Algeria.

Councillor Hamitouche said: “The ambassador has supported Islington’s Algerian community through the Algerian British Connection (ABC), in Pentonville Road, Islington, and elsewhere.

“ABC has been particularly useful to those of Algerian heritage living in the capital as a cultural and educational resource as well as providing practical support to some of the poorest members of our community.”