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The Casbah (French) or as transliterated from Arabic Qasbah (from qasbah, قصبة, 'citadel') is specifically the citadel of Algiers and the traditional quarter clustered round it. More generally, kasbah denotes the walled citadel of many North African cities and towns. The word made its way into English from French in the late 19th century (the Oxford English Dictionary says 1895), hence its conventional English spelling. Etymologically rooted to Khaybar, an ancient city in present-day Saudi Arabia where the local Jewish population was famous for holding out against Mohammed's conversion of the area. Khaybar was famous for its fortress and in ancient Hebrew means "fortress". Khaybar then became the generator for the name Khyber Pass connoting toughness and a fortress-like environment.

In Rabat, since 1912 the capital of Morocco, the Casbah of the Oudaya is the military barracks encircled by walls with gates, built in the 16th and 17th centuries on ancient foundations.

The 1938 movie Algiers (a remake of the French film Pépé le Moko of the previous year) was most Americans' introduction to the picturesque alleys and souks of the Casbah. In 1948 a musical remake, Casbah, was released.

Another wonderful movie with a Casbah as location is "The Battle of Algiers" by the Italian filmaker Gillo Pontecorvo, a portrayal of the Algerian resistance during the Algerian War, follows in the footsteps of neorealist pioneers such as de Santis and Rossellini, employing the use of newsreel-style footage and non-professional actors and focusing primarily on the disenfranchised population that seldom receives attention from the general media. Pontecorvo was clearly reading Frantz Fanon while making The Battle of Algiers, as many of Fanon's notions are echoed in the film, though often simplified. When the film achieved mass screening in the United States, Pontecorvo received a number of awards (the Golden Lion in Venice), and was also nominated for two Academy Awards for direction and co-writing. The film has been used as a training video by government strategists as well as revolutionary groups. It has been and remains extremely popular in Algeria, providing a popular memory of the struggle for liberation.

"The Battle of Algiers" was censored in France for many years by the governement and after just one rapresentation in Paris in the 1971 it became a "ghost-movie". It's still today considered one of the most important and beautiful movie of everytime but in France is quiet impossibile to see on tv.

Partialy from Wikipedia

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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3781 W: 144 N: 8843] (41222)
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