Religion in Algeria

Religion in Algeria Last updated on Monday 19th April 2010

Islam is Algeria's official religion and the vast majority of Algerians are Muslim. Since the departure of the French, Christianity is a peripheral religion.

However, Algeria's relationship with Islam has been complex and turbulent. The socialist government vigorously suppressed any Islamic activism throughout the 1960s and '70s. Many government workers and other employees judiciously kept clean-shaven to avoid overt identification with Islamicists.

The resurgence of Islam during the 1980s was stimulated by the Iranian revolution, Muslim Brotherhood influences and the manifest failure of socialism in the Arab world. The Islamic backlash in Algeria has been particularly strong due to subversion of Islamic tradition and its supplanting with alien secularist ideologies and institutions. The society has become increasingly polarized over the last 25 years between westernized secularists and the large majority of the traditionally Muslim populace.

Secularization has had another effect. The large Berber minority has spawned an anti-Arab, anti-Islam separatist, or Berber nationalist movement. With the harsh suppression of democracy in 1991, Islamic fundamentalists turned to violence, often targeting Berber separatists.

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