26 March 2019
Al Qaeda’s Yusuf al-Anabi has called on Muslims to “unite” to ensure Algeria is ruled according to Islam “alone” as President Bouteflika’s 20-year rule ended.
He called Algerian Muslims to reject any regional or tribal identities and said that people are all the “sons of Islam”.
In 2006 the country’s constitution declared Islam the state religion but also declared that “freedom of creed and opinion is inviolable”.
In practice, authorities have allowed even non-registered Christian groups to meet without needing specific permission though a number of churches have been shut down since the start of 2018.
The fast-growing Algerian Church is comprised of converts from Islam, many of whom are Berbers. Al-Anabi’s call to unity in Islam refers to the deep divide between Arabs (about 70%) and Berbers (about 30%) in Algeria.
The Berber are descendants of the original peoples of the Maghreb region of North Africa. The Arabs are descendants of the invading Muslim conquerors in the seventh century, under whom the original Algerian Church was wiped out.