There are elements of the absurd about the plight of Kamel Daoud, an Algerian writer whose debut novel reaped glowing international reviews, literary honors and then, suddenly, demands for his public execution.
His book, “Meursault, Counter-Investigation,” is a retelling of Albert Camus’s classic “The Stranger,” from an Algerian perspective. Within its 160 pages, Mr. Daoud gives voice to the brother of the nameless Arab murder victim who is shot five times on a beach in Algiers by the antihero, Meursault.
Camus’s 1942 novel, an exploration of the absurd and the meaningless of life, greatly influenced Mr. Daoud, who is now dealing with his own farcical reality: a Facebook fatwa issued by a Salafist imam from Algeria.
Some Algerian artists fear that the government’s tepid response is part of a new tactic to increase political pressure if they step out of line. The human rights organization Algeria-Watch has raised questions about past ties between the radical imam and secret police intelligence organizations dating to the 1990s.
“You know there is an issue when a government allows some of its citizens to be openly threatened with death by others and does nothing,” said Lyes Salem, a filmmaker. His latest movie, “The Man From Oran” — a critical look at postwar Algeria through the lives of two friends — was the target of a fatwa in October from a television preacher who urged viewers to enlist lawyers to challenge the “satanic film.”