When Islamists impose their diktat

Said-chekroun By: Said Chekroun


As time goes by, signs of religiosity become more apparent in the Maghreb. Paradoxically, in the wake of the Arab Spring, rampant Islamisation came with vague attempts to destroy freedoms by religious currents recruiting members from salafist movements.
The advent of civil liberties reinforced bigotries that had long been concealed in disguised devotions, because they were tracked down by the despotic regimes in power.

In Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya, daily life reflects manifestations of intolerance by those who are very open about their intention to enforce Sharia.

Salafists draw inspiration from the fatwas of the most reactionary conservatives, apply the Qur’an strictly, and are in the process of spreading their ideas and enforcing them either by persuasion or violent intimidation.

In practice, this trend is limited to the dress code: tunic, cap and beard for men; veil or chador for women. In Algerian cities, skirts and dresses are becoming increasingly scarce, and women who wear them are subjected to sarcasm and receive nicknames from idle passers-by as well as youth sensitive to Islamist arguments.

This ploy goes hand-in-hand with pressure, which pushed many women to give up to be left alone, while waiting for gender mixing to be abolished in public places.

In substance, salafists still hope to rule society according to their beliefs, by splitting behaviours into two categories: lawful ones in line with religious precepts and unlawful ones considered as mere heresy.

This leads to serious violations of individual freedoms. Owners of bars and premises serving alcoholic drinks learn about this every day at their own expense.

In Algeria, the government and Islamists seem to agree on decreasing the number of bars and premises serving alcoholic drinks. Their scheme is simple: trigger a petition by residents, organise an assembly if necessary, and then revoke the license of the establishment of the area in question.

In certain wilayas, the prefect takes the initiative of prohibiting the sale of alcohol within his constituency. This is particularly the case in Jijel, Constantine, and Boumerdes.

But this does not decrease the volume of consumption, as the black market replaces closed establishments.

In remote locations, far from urban centres, armed Islamist groups dispense justice themselves.

In Kabylie, where a form of resistance seems to assert itself against this trend, violent raids abound in bars.

These violent expedients are accompanied by a skilfully maintained indoctrination in mosques, where imams stigmatise art, music, culture and the Western world, and hold disbelievers up to public obloquy. According to this viewpoint, freedom is paradoxically self-destructive.

Your Comments


Anonymous About 6 months ago

You idiot. This language is outmoded, the truth is out. Nothing can stop our march towards the Right Path. Kada.


Anonymous About 6 months ago

I am actually very surprised by your article because your definition of religiosity is mere allegations and appearances that have nothing to do with Islam or religion. You exaggerated when you said that these currents are dominating Algeria to the point that women avoid skirts and dresses. This was probably true during the black decade, but it’s now confined to some remote areas only. It is very unfortunate to reject the idea of applying the teachings of the true religion (without radicalism or extremism) in our daily lives, and to accept the separation of religion and the state, because Islam is our pride and the source of our strength. Thanks to Islam, we were the best nation on earth, and without it we’ve become underdeveloped or third world countries…


Anonymous About 6 months ago

Karl Marx said that religion is the opium of the people. Does that apply to the rampant religiosity of the country’s idle population? Martyrdom for the defense of individual freedom and human rights is not given to everyone. I wish you courage! Johan Miltenburg.


eisha About 6 months ago

Sir, you can be secular, and you are free in your choices and tastes, but you have no right to challenge the fundamentals of Algerian society. You can criticize salafists all you want, but do not criticize the hijab and the beard. And if you love miniskirts, you don’t have to look at a decent woman wearing the hijab.

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