- Title: ALGERIA: Government blacklists salafi books
- Date: 4th November 2010
- Summary: SOUNDBITE(Arabic) SHEIKH CHEMSEDDINE BOUROUBI, A WELL KNOWN IMAM IN ALGIERS, SAYING "The works that we see today are political tracts which aim to explode Muslim society from within, through invading the minds of the youths. Young people don't know any better, they want to be observant, to get close to God, but without knowing that these books hide poison within their folds. People were misled and all we've reaped from these books is fragmentation and heresy, and after heresy came the bombings. This is why I continue to warn against these books and this doctrine and the money that funds these books." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE BROWSING AND BUYING BOOKS VARIOUS OF CUSTOMS OFFICERS OUTSIDE FAIR, CHECKING BOOKS PURCHASED AT FAIR
- Embargoed: 19th November 2010 12:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Education
- Reuters ID: LVAF31BOCDPUBC68ENNK6WIUKY9V
- Story Text: Algiers' international book fair used to be an opportunity for the Algerian salafists - followers of an ultra-conservative brand of Islam - to buy their literature. Not this year, as the government blacklisted most of their works in a move to curb their growing influence.
Major authors like Mohamed Nacer Eddine al Albani, Sheikh Outheimine, and Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz who was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999, are banned from the shelves of the 15th Algiers book fair.
This year, more than 100 Algerian editors and nearly 400 publishers from 30 countries, including for the first time the United States, India, Venezuela and Poland are participating in the annual fair, which runs until November 6.
The fair, which was opened by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on October 26, is popular with Algerians and students shopping for titles at bargain prices, attracting 15,000 people daily.
Book importers, like Muhammed Mouloudi, say the new rules have made business more complicated.
"Importing [books] isn't as straight forward as it used to be. There are now a lot of rules- I wouldn't say obstacles - but there are new rules regarding importing [books] from abroad," he told Reuters.
But he defends the government's tough line, saying the effects of the Salafi school of thought on Algerian youth, especially on those who went to study in Saudi Arabia, have been a radicalising force that threatens Algerian culture.
"Regarding the effects of the Salafi school on thought in Algeria, it's known that in the last twenty years, a huge number of Algerian students went to study in Saudi Arabia during that time, and let's not forget the events and war in Afghanistan (in which some Algerian men fought on the side of Islamists). Young men returned with enthusiasm for this school of thought and doctrine. Now we are in desperate need of going back to the Maliki doctrine. We need our original culture. That past period has now ended and we want to take our youth back to moderation," Mouloudi added.
Most Salafists in Algeria have never been involved in the violent conflict that convulsed the country from the early 1990s, and in fact many cooperated with the government to persuade the insurgents to lay down their arms.
They do not seek overt political influence, partly because their beliefs forbid it. But they are starting to exert a growing influence over the youth, and how people dress, deal with the state and do business.
Opponents to Algerian salafists say they divide the society and introduce imported values into it.
Sheikh Chemseddine Bouroubi, a well known imam in Algiers, is a leading voice against the spread of salafist ideas, which are strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia's ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam.
"The works that we see today are political tracts which aim to explode Muslim society from within, through invading the minds of the youths. Young people don't know any better, they want to be observant, to get close to God, but without knowing that these books hide poison within their folds. People were misled and all we've reaped from these books is fragmentation and heresy, and after heresy came the bombings. This is why I continue to warn against these books and this doctrine and the money that funds these books."
Customs agents inside the book fair were making sure blacklisted books were not on the shelves. Visitors leaving the fair faced bag searches, a measure of the government's determination to curb the growing boldness of Algerian Salafists.
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