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Islam and Politics ( 1 Sept 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Algerian Bloggers Debate Political Islam


By Mouna Sadek

August 30, 2013

The rise of Islamism in Maghreb countries is a hot topic in Algeria.

On his blog, the journalist and writer Akram Belkaid gives a reminder that Islamists have always defied democracy.

"They believed it was Haram to vote because divine law must only be expressed through Sharia and the various precepts of the Qur'an," he writes. "This belief did not disappear and you can already bet that it was even strengthened in light of recent events."

In Belkaid's view, Islamism must be tackled through politics. He hopes that the trend that began in 2011 will not run out of steam.

"The only way of beating it permanently and without strengthening it is to challenge it on political, economic and social grounds and ultimately to achieve an electoral victory which is not contested or subject to military patronage," he says.

The Algerian journalist points out that it is not enough to complain about the dangers of an electoral victory for "green fascism". It is necessary to take it on through politics and defend one's ideas directly.

Meanwhile, journalist Mourad Hachid at his "Des clics et des clacs" blog highlights the work of Algerian sociologist Lahouari Addi, who describes Islamism as the expression of a "fear" that secularism would make Islam disappear.

Addi argues that this was an unfounded fear because mankind is religious by nature.

"Muslim societies are currently experiencing a contradiction which lies at the heart of political Islam: on the one hand there is an aspiration to modernity and social progress, and on the other, there is a desire to renew a religious life that is incompatible with the content of this aspiration," he says.

This contradiction will continue for as long as Islamists are in opposition, he argues. Without them on board, there will be no democratic transition. He writes that the only solution is the ballot box, through which Islamists will lose their popularity once they incorporate the concept of the rule of law into their political culture.

According to the writer and journalist Kamel Daoud, political Islam has crept into Algerian society in such a way that it threatens its balance.

Writing at Algerie Focus, he attacks the "Ulema" of the gutter: "Ridicule of their antiquated role as 'wise men' in a world of high technology, specialisation, think tanks and multinationals does not cause them to back down or hesitate. In reality, they belong precisely to the age of philosophical thought through the prism of which some, many, people view the world."

Daoud also expresses outrage at religious leaders' reaction to the fast breakers in Tizi Ouzou.

"We've read about the condemnations, the explanation that having a snack compromises national security (given by the religious men who were silent about Tiguentourine) and above all: a panic which is deaf to the idea of letting go of the monopoly on religion, an ideological stance which makes it possible to keep a population under control, mindless and deprived of freedom," he writes.

But some bloggers, such as political researcher Ahmed El Khatwani, hold that political Islamism is the only solution for Arab nations.

"The separation of religion and politics cannot happen in keeping with the religion of Allah, which is a religion for all of humanity and cannot be eliminated from politics," he writes.