Algeria: The Protestant Reformation Arrives


June 9,2008: Conversion efforts by Protestant Evangelical groups are putting the fear of change into Moslem clerics and government officials. Six converts were recently prosecuted for "unauthorized practice of religion", but only received suspended sentences. Police, however, frequently harass converts. The Evangelicals preach responsibility and self-improvement (among other things), and have been very successful in other poor countries. In the Americas, it's the Roman Catholic church, and many more traditional Protestant denominations, that feel the heat. In Asia, it's a variety of religions. But in Algeria, this "Protestant Reformation" is more ferociously opposed by the political and religious establishment. The new message is that Islam is a failure, and the religion of losers. The Evangelicals don't put it that bluntly, but more Algerians are getting the message.

Counter-terror operations are less important as anger over unemployment and corruption grows. Al Qaeda is seen as a bunch of murderous maniacs, although many Berbers are inclined to shelter the terrorists, as long as the attacks do not kill Berbers. No way of telling how long that arrangement will last. The Berbers want autonomy, as well as some economic relief. In general, Algerians are more inclined to riot and attack the government for practical, economic, reasons. This has nothing to do with religion.

June 8, 2008: In the capital, two bombs went off in a train station, killing thirteen. The target appeared to be a French construction firm, that was working on rail facilities and a tunnel.

In Mali, an army offensive near the Algerian border left at least twenty Tuareg rebels dead.

June 7, 2008: East of the capital, police ambushed Islamic terrorists, killing one and wounding two.

June 5, 2008: East of the capital, a roadside bomb killed six soldiers and wounded four more.

In neighboring Mali, the government replaced the senior military leadership, and installed a new crew, with orders to be more successful against Tuareg rebels. The Tuareg and Berbers are remnants of the pre-Moslem people who continue to resist the imposition of Arab culture on region.

June 4, 2008: Outside the capital, a suicide bomber killed himself, and wounded several other people, near an army base entrance. Another bomb went off in a nearby café, wounding several more people.


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