Algeria also opts for “Sufi card” to fight Islamist extremism
(Photo: Sufi at festival in southern Algeria, 24 March 2008/Zohra Bensemra)
FaithWorld recently ran a post about Pakistan considering playing the “Sufi card” in its campaign against Islamist militants. The idea is that promoting this mystical and tolerant school of Islam could counteract the influence of more radical readings of the faith. It looks like they’re not the only ones considering this:
After using police raids, arrests and gun battles in its fight against Islamist insurgents, Algeria is now deploying a new, more subtle weapon: a branch of Islam associated with contemplation, not combat.
The government of this North African oil and gas producer is promoting Sufism, an Islamic movement that it sees as a gentler alternative to the ultra-conservative Salafism espoused by many of the militants behind Algeria’s insurgency.
The authorities have created a television and radio station to promote Sufism and the “zaouias” or religious confraternities that preach and practise it, in addition to regular appearances by Sufi sheikhs on other stations. All are tightly controlled by the state.
Neighbouring Morocco is taking a different approach, opting to reinforce the authority of state-appointed imams in the hope this will cut off support for jihadism.
What do you think? Do state-supported campaigns to promote certain types of Islam are an effective way to counter militancy?