Rachid Arhab: “Everything good that is done in the Maghreb must be seen throughout the world” , Young Africa

Rachid Arhab: “Everything good that is done in the Maghreb must be seen throughout the world”

For many, Rachid Arhab is the pioneer of journalists from North African immigration in France. The first “Beur” to have embodied the news on the public service (France 2), notably by presenting the 13 p.m. Television News. But Rachid Arhab is above all a forty-year career: in turn reporter, editor-in-chief or star journalist. He also has an appointment to the Superior Audiovisual Council (CSA), from 2007 to 2013. From now on, he is the co-founder with his comrade Guillaume Pfister of a social and digital media called Liik, launched at the start of the 2023 school year and dedicated to Mediterranean world.

The editorial line? Inclusive, positive and creative video content, highlighting the “creative power” bubbling up on the other side of the Mediterranean. The objective? Show a dynamic, open Maghreb (and Mediterranean basin), where youth shines on the rest of the world through sport, the arts, culture, gastronomy, citizen initiatives, entrepreneurship or quite simply, through its commitments. Target ? Ultra-connected millennials who are fleeing ideologically adrift and particularly anxiety-inducing mainstream media.

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Until now, Liik – financed by an initial fundraising of 270 euros and investors such as Xavier Niel – is rolling along. In three months of existence, the platform has already had 000 million views and its subscribers have increased by 15% in two months. By the end of 150, Rachid Arhab – very proud of his baby – hopes to reach 2024 million views.

Jeune Afrique: In 2017, before the birth of Liik, you had the ambition to create a binational television channel, Plumm.tv, supported by la France and Algeria, like Arte. The project was also supported by Emmanuel Macron. Is Liik a kind of Plumm 2.0? 

Rachid Arhab: Indeed, I had launched the idea of ​​a Franco-Algerian Arte. A beautiful utopia born after my years at the CSA, where I was very familiar with international relations in audiovisual matters, but difficult to achieve on the ground. First, the history between France and Algeria is very different from the history between France and Germany. And then, we quickly realized that we had to produce digital programs on the Internet and not create a terrestrial or digital television channel.

The idea is to use both parts of my brain: Algeria is my innate, France is my acquired. Over time, I managed to balance the two. Liik, that’s it: digital media here speaks to both sides of the Mediterranean shore in an intelligent, peaceful and non-stakeholder manner.

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Like Brut or Konbini, can we say that Liik makesinfotainment

Liik does not provide information at all. Many people are trying to do it in the Mediterranean area but it doesn't work very well. I do not identify with what is happening in terms of information and current affairs in France and elsewhere. Mainstream media has changed a lot. Liik takes the side of appeasement. Unlike France, where the prescribing public is housewives over 35 years old, in the Maghreb it is young people (20-35 years old). We have carried out several studies on each side of the Mediterranean, and found that young people are hyper connected: to reach them, il faut passer through social networks. And offer them non-divisive social issues in which they are mostly interested.

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The Mediterranean world is already interconnected, and the concerns of young French and North Africans are the same: they seek meaning in their work, they wonder how to stay and contribute to the building in their native country, what they can create. There is a creative power on the other side of the Mediterranean which is still invisible: I take the example of North African rap which is a hit everywhere abroad, and which is little talked about here. Liik wants to highlight this power, create connections and show what we have in common.

My goal is to promote the brand image of North Africans abroad, everything that is done carefully in the Maghreb must be seen throughout the world. In the Anglo-Saxon world, there is pop culture. In ten or fifteen years, there will be pop-Med. look DJ Snake, when he says “ Disco Maghreb » which was a hit all over the world, it presents another image of Algeria and France. And finally, we see him as a Mediterranean.

You are quite critical of journalism and you prioritize content production. What is your point of view on the situation of independent journalists in the Maghreb and on the state of press freedom? 

I do not feel justified in criticizing the media in the Maghreb countries, where I do not live. I am neither an advice giver nor a giver of opinion. On the other hand, I regret that the French media are opinion media and not information media. And then you know,  I don't spend my time giving my point of view on things, I do. I have more than thirty-five years of career and not a single controversy on my back. If I don't try to produce information, it's because I wouldn't be effective. However, there may be a political dimension to our content: environmental protection, for example, is a subject of major interest for young people.

As a Franco-Algerian born in Kabylia who grew up in France, what is your view on the media treatment of citizens of North African origin in France, and of the Maghreb in general? 

I have a very harsh judgment on the French media. We see well it there is demonization. The image of people of North African origin is not positive in the media, because they are only interested in things that are wrong. Certainly, they exist. But I prefer to talk about young people who build, who move forward. However, Liik is neither a community media nor an activist media, just a platform for exposing North African youth.

According to you, Liik is a media of appeasement, of bringing people together. Do you find that the millennials or generation Z with whom you work are calm, they who are quite engaged and radical?

You're taking things the other way around. It is because things have not calmed down that Liik is working towards appeasement. We mainly try to be professional. Liik will never be a place where we come to deal with controversies or buzz. To be engaged, activist, It's good. But rather than demonstrating things, I try to show them.

Are you aware of being a model for an entire generation, particularly by embodying information on the French public service? 

I wasn't aware of it when I was doing it, and that's normal because I was doing the job, I wasn't looking at myself. Since I stopped, people talk to me a lot about it. It’s difficult to say “yes I am a symbol”, I became aware of it thanks to Liik in fact.

Exactly, tell us a little about how Liik works and its development? 

Liik is growing very quickly, especially in terms of the number of views and subscribers. All our reports are produced by local and field journalists. My ambition is to create a production company for contents, equally between the two shores of the Mediterranean. My dream is to open offices in Algiers, Casablanca and Tunis, for example, but for our content to be shared globally. In any case, Liik is already a small global media because the diasporas from the Maghreb and the Mediterranean are extremely important, very efficient, enterprising: that too is something I want to show.

On a more personal level, I run this company to allow young people to train in digital technology and teach them how to transmit. I have a young, very diverse team and I try to share with them the fact that we create something in common, beyond the controversies. We have been experiencing controversies for 35 years and if we continue like this, we will only generate du negative.

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