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Sufism, Salafism and state policy towards religion in Algeria: a survey of Algerian youth

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During the summer of 2011, the University of Algiers and Binghamton University undertook a public opinion survey of youth in Algeria to assess their views of Sufism and Salafism and governmental policy towards religion in Algeria. In this survey that included more than 2000 respondents from all regions of the country, an analysis of the data obtained reveals mass disillusionment among youth with both political parties and religious institutions in the country. This widespread disenchantment may explain why we have not observed high levels of social mobilisation in Algeria in the wake of the 2011 revolutions and revolts known as the ‘Arab Spring’. Our survey reveals that Algerian youth see Sufi organisations as oriented towards peaceful change, yet they also see Sufis as practitioners of unacceptable religious practices (bidaa). The majority of respondents also believe that the government's support of Sufi orders involves a political effort to increase the ruling party's chances of electoral success while deflecting Salafist critiques of government.

Keywords: Salafism; Sufism; political parties; public opinion; religious institutions; youth

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy,University of Algiers II, Algiers, Algeria 2: Department of Political Science and Sociology,SUNY, Binghamton,NY, USA 3: Department of Sociology and Religious Studies,University of Blida, Blida, Algeria

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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