The Shifting Foundations of Political Islam in Algeria CARNEGIE Middle East Center Paper, April 2019
Understanding Algeria’s various Islamist communities—including militant groups, moderate factions, and grassroots movements—offers a window into the country’s uncertain sociopolitical future.
Starting in February 2019, thousands and later millions of Algerians took to the streets to voice their displeasure with their ailing eighty-two-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who sought to run for what would have been a fifth term. After weeks of peaceful and orderly mass protests, the long-standing president resigned in April 2019, before a new election could be held. As this new “battle of Algiers” continues to unfold, some Algerian and European observers have warned that Islamists will try to infiltrate the movement. Their fear is that Islamists may seek to recreate the conditions that prevailed in the 1990s when the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) exploited the country’s 1989 democratic opening to call for the establishment of an Islamic state; jihadi violence erupted after the military interrupted the electoral process in 1991, and the country descended into a decade-long civil war (1991–2001).