chapter  6
Algeria: Islamic Secularism and Political Islam
ByYahia H. Zoubir
Pages 24

Radicalization of the Islamist movement intensified at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s. Radical Islamists in Algeria developed an interpretation of Islam that refuted any liberal interpretation of Islam. One can easily see how the same arguments could be used successfully against the democratic forces that based their arguments on secular principles. Consequently, democratic values become, in their conception, sacrilegious and totally antithetical to Islam. Secular values, upon which democracy is said to rest, lead to fitna within Muslim societies. The irony is that these conclusions regarding secularism and democracy do not derive from any theological or serious political analysis of the concepts. Early on Algerian authorities manipulated Islam for political and ideological purposes. In order to build a modern identity and gain legitimacy, successive regimes sought to integrate what they defined as a modern type of Islam into revolutionary, vanguard perspectives. The state elites conceived Islam as the foundation of identity of the Algerian citizens.