Sabah Boudras, a primary school teacher from Algerian town of Batna, kicked off a national debate in Algeria when she streamed a lesson on Facebook Live discussing the importance of the Arabic language with her students.
"This year, my language will be Arabic, and we will not express ourselves except in Arabic," Boudras said in the video posted on September 6 from her school in Batna, around 450 km southeast of the capital Algiers, according to the news website Quartz.
After this the students gathered around her, repeating and completing her sentences.
A little later Boudras’ video received a response in French from Nouria Benghebrit, Algeria’s education minister, in which she criticised the teacher, ostensibly for filming her students and having her back turned to them.
She described the video as a "disaster" and said that the teacher could face a "disciplinary council" as a result of an investigation she will open.
The minister’s harsh criticism of Boudras has triggered a national debate among Algerians on the issue of language, especially as the minister chose to talk in French while the Boudras spoke in Arabic.
Many teachers and students across Algeria took to social media to voice support for Boudras under the hashtag "We are all Boudras":
— mouna dz (@mounamounah) September 7, 2016
The debate over the video reveals deeper divisions in Algerian society.
Despite the fact that Arabic is the official language of Algeria, French retains the influence in professional circles and in higher education it acquired while the country was a colony of France.
Arabic is used as the main language of education throughout primary and high school, but university courses are taught in French.