Algeria continues to struggle to lay the groundwork for a sustainable democracy.
This raises questions on the role the country’s Islamist movements, especially the Movement of Society for Peace, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Algeria, will play in the future of this North African state.
In this interview with The Reference, the Paris-based Algerian author Hamid Zanaz dwells on the future of Islamist and secular movements in Algeria.
What effect does the presence of Islamist movements, especially the Movement of Society for Peace, have on Algeria’s democratic gains?
The fact is that Islamist movements have nothing to do with democracy. They are hostile to the notion of a secular state where there is separation between politics and religion.
Do you think ordinary Algerians do not favor these movements any more, especially with the memories of the ten black years still lingering in the minds of many of them?
The Algerians had a taste of the rule of the Islamists. In 1990, they saw the catastrophic performance of the Islamists in the municipalities won in the elections by the Islamic Front. The Islamist did nothing but care about trivial issues. They failed in delivering on the promises they made during the elections.
Do you think the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in some Arab Spring countries had contributed to their weakness in other countries?
The Muslim Brotherhood is always strong where there are weak states. These weak states allow them to abuse religion and deceive the members of the public, using religious slogans. Nevertheless, there is not a scientific assessment of any drop in the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood in any country. In Algeria, the group received painful blows because of their unclear policies and positions. They play all parties against each other and hammer out alliances with all opposing parties.
How do you view accusations by Algeria’s Muslim Brotherhood that Algeria’s secularists are mere agents of France?
Sorry to say, all Islamist movements in Algeria accuse secularists of this. They view secularism as an idea foreign to their country. They hate it because it pulls the carpet from under their feet.