Dizin Eklenmedi

Challenging the Hegemony of Nationalism and Islamism: Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Algeria

Received: Accepted: Published: 2015-10-20



When one peruses the magnitude of the following Qur’anic verse: “You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in God” (Al-Imran 3:110), one may wonder about the deplorable status of religious and ethnic minorities in the “Arab World” in general and specifically in Algeria.
Basing my analysis on several studies on ethnic and religious minorities (Hourani 1947; Ben Hounet 2008 and Khiat 2006), this article shows how totalizing ideologies such as nationalism and State Islamism have hampered the legitimate aspirations of non-Arabs and non-Sunni-Moslems, and exacerbated the tensions between communities such as the Ibadhis, Imazighen, Sephardic Jews, and Tuaregs.
The raison d’être of this paper is to highlight the necessity of various communities, whether ethnic or religious, to coexist peacefully and enjoy their full-fledged inalienable rights. A case in point would be the symbiosis that existed between the aforementioned minorities at some point of Islamic history.  However, the Algerian regime, very much like the rest of the Maghrebi authorities, which is run and reined in by corrupt elite (Limam 2012 and Cavatorta 2009) and the country’s military top brass through a civilian “hijab,” has so far exerted an unbounded hegemony and muzzled every “discordant voice.” But this regime is now compelled to open up, democratize, and acknowledge the minorities’ rights to exist and thrive. And the dynamics of the recent riots and uprising in the country might very well help these ethnic and religious minorities achieve their inalienable rights.


Keywords: Imazighen, Ibadhis, Maghreb, Minority politics, Sephardic Jews, Tuaregs


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