October 13, 1997
PADUA, Italy -- In speaking about the Mediterranean in particular and Muslim-Western relations in general, clarity would be served by doing away with the words ''fundamentalism'' and ''fundamentalist.'' Their use not only promotes stereotypes but misrepresents political struggles as religious conflicts.That comment follows from a discussion in Padua this month among Muslim and Western scholars at a meeting organized by the Community of Sant' Egidio. The community is an ecumenical Roman Catholic lay group, born of the intellectual and religious ferment of the '60s, which two years ago managed to bring all the factions in Algeria, the government excepted, to agree on a platform for dialogue.
December 28, 1994
The storming of Air France Flight 8969, by a special unit of the Gendarmerie, Monday in Marseilles, was a great tactical victory in the war on terrorism. It prevented use of the airliner and some 170 hostages as a giant firebomb on Paris.The Algerian civil war did not drop on France out of the skies. It was already there. Terrorists have used French sanctuary, as have their victims. Rebels accuse France of propping up the Algerian dictatorship. Terrorists have assassinated some 80 foreigners in Algeria in 15 months -- including four priests as reprisal for the storming of the plane -- crippling French business.
July 2, 1991
Another experiment in democracy bit the dust. President Chadli Benjedid's bold plan to introduce more real democracy in Algeria than any Arab state has known ended Sunday under the tracks of the tanks President Chadli himself sent into Algiers. Their mission was to destroy the movement that would have won the election that was just postponed, and that would in all probability have ended democracy itself.The arrest of Abbasi Madani, chief of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), his principal lieutenant, Ali Belhadj and hundreds (or thousands)
November 27, 1994
The promise of a presidential election next year made by the military front man, President Liamine Zeroual, will not bring peace to Algeria. In the short run, nothing will. Blundering by the military Socialist regime in power since 1962 has brought about a civil war such as threatens many Islamic countries, between modernism camouflaged as moderation and extremism disguised as fundamentalism, between ethnic majorities and minorities, between male clerical authority and women.The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)
April 4, 1995
The Algerian army's onslaught against guerrillas in recent days will accomplish good if it is accompanied by negotiations with opposition parties leading to a transfer of authority. The regime of President Liamine Zeroual has the power to unify the opposition or drive a wedge between its moderate and fanatic wings. Too often, it has done the former.The military regime in Algeria is wrong to claim through semi-official newspapers that it has virtually eliminated the Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
February 11, 1992
The Algerian army's suppression of the Islamic Salvation Front is an attack not only on democracy but also on demographics. Numbers are on the side of the suppressed. So is time.The older generation of people who matter in Algeria are French-educated, worldly and secular. They would dread a society governed by the sharia, or traditional Islamic law, that would banish women from work and view, forbid alcohol and impose punishments for crimes that seemed just many centuries ago but do not now.The younger generation is more religious, Arab and Middle Eastern, less French and tolerant.