A terrorist is suggesting that Muslims use the current unrest over Algeria’s president and his future as an opportunity to take over the nation and impose “Islamic morals and Shariah ethics.”
The comment, reported by the Barnabas Fund, a ministry serving Christians worldwide, comes from Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi.
“Designated a ‘terrorist’ by the U.S. State Department in 2015, Al-Anabi encouraged the Algerian people to take up his religious demands and employ ‘Islamic morals and Shariah ethics’ in their street demonstrations,” the report said.
The BBC reported hundreds of thousands of people were protesting in the streets in Algeria to demand the resignation of the president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Military leaders there have called for the position to be declared vacant, but opposition parties have said that still would not assure free elections.
Police have been using tear gas on crowds.
“Demonstrations against Mr. Bouteflika began last month after the president, who has seldom been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced that he would stand for another term,” the BBC said.
Opponents now are now calling for his departure, along with those Algerian political leaders who would be in line to succeed him.
Barnabas explained the speech by al-Anabi was widely reported on social media this month.
He “called Algerian Muslims to reject any regional or tribal identities and said that people are all the ‘sons of Islam.’ He added that there is no difference between Arabs and foreigners as long as they share the same faith,” the report said.
Al-Anabi, a leading official of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, said Muslims should “unite” to provide that Algeria is ruled by Islam “alone.”
“Al-Anabi’s speech was delivered days before 82-year-old Bouteflika announced on 11 March that that the general election due to be held on 18 April would be postponed indefinitely, at the same time stating that he would not stand for a fifth term as president,” Barnabas Fund reported.
Bouteflika has been in power since 1999 during a civil war between a secular government and Islamists. The constitution was changed in 2006 to declare Islam the state religion but it still declares “freedom of creed and opinion is inviolable.”
Since then, the government has moved several times, including a demand that required registration for premises used for Christian churches.
Non-Muslims groups also are restricted as to their locations, and some churches have been shut down for alleged breaches of health and safety rules.
“The fast growing Algerian Church is comprised mainly of first generation converts from Islam, many of whom are Berbers. There have been ups and downs in their experience of freedom or harassment over the last 30 years. Al-Anabi’s call to unity in Islam, rejecting ‘tribal identities,’ refers to the deep divide between the Arab community (about 70 percent) and Berber community (about 30 percent) in Algeria,” the ministry explained.
It explained the Berber are descendants of the original peoples of the Maghreb region of North Africa while the Arabs are descendants of the invading Muslim conquerors in the seventh century.