It is premature to study the results of the various political changes occurring in the Arab region in general and the Maghreb in particular. The so-called Arab Spring is still taking place, as it did not only overthrow two Maghreb regimes, but also reshaped political structures, ways of thinking, and social and economic relationships.
The Arab Spring brought change to the Maghreb.
Many Arab satellite channels play a major role in shaping the collective consciousness of Maghreb peoples and encouraging them to adopt specific political and ideological choices.
Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya played critical roles in the Tunisian and Libyan revolutions. The networks broadcast images of peaceful demonstrations and the people’s attempts to defend themselves against the military.
These channels are now helping promote a particular political pattern of thinking, and trying to impose a specific model of economic and social governance.
Recently, a number of Middle Eastern conservative channels promoting an extremist, medieval religious ideology have emerged. These networks threaten sectarian stability in the Maghreb, known for its moderation and for ensuring the coexistence and security of ethnic and religious minorities.
Maghreb conservative satellite channels, such as Libya’s al-Wadi TV and the Algerian network affiliated with the Islamic Salvation Front, represent the greatest challenge.
In addition to the onslaught of news promoting political Islam and supporting sectarianism, Maghreb audiences are also subjected to a flood of strange fatwas, Wahhabi salafism, the deliberate exclusion of women, and various attempts to distort their identity, as seen on the Egyptian channel Maria TV.
The danger these satellite networks represent is similar to that of Wahhabi funds flowing to the region a few decades ago, which lead to sectarian instability and the emergence of radical movements. Let’s not forget the bloodshed in Algeria, and the spread of salafism in all Maghreb countries.
In the Maghreb, the battle is taking place in digital and TV platforms. After the fall of Kadhafi and Ben Ali, conservative forces have been trying to gain political and intellectual influence in order to establish new social forces and preserve their own interests.
A fundamental question remains: Will Maghreb people lose their distinctive cultural and religious identity in this fierce war? Only the future will tell.
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