Islam in Algeria

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Ottoman Algeria enjoyed strong traditions of religious and political autonomy, and it took the French fifty-two years to conquer the country (1830–82). The combination of French colonial policies and indigenous population increase impoverished the traditional rural population and created a new urban society. Upon Algeria's independence (1962), the country was poor and overwhelmingly rural. One million Algerians (out of nine million) had died in the fight for independence; two million were homeless. The National Liberation Front (FLN) established industrialization and education programs, but the state-controlled economy stagnated due to low oil prices in the 1980s. In response to widespread riots, the FLN instituted multiparty elections (1988), and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) became the strongest challenger of the FLN, demanding the establishment of an Islamic state and economic privatization. The military intervened and invalidated the election results. The FIS was outlawed in 1992. A constitutional revision (1996) yielded a bicameral parliament: the National People's Assembly (380 seats; elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms) and the Council of Nations (144 seats; the president appoints one-third, indirect vote elects two-thirds; members serve six-year terms). In the 1997 elections the overwhelming majority of seats elected were from the Democratic National Rally (RND), whose chairman is Mohamed Benbaibeche.

See also Islamic Salvation Front

Subjects: Islam.

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