A prominent Algerian preacher warned of the consequences of not going to the ballot box in the upcoming parliamentary elections and predicted a NATO attack on the country in case of a low turnout.
Following statements by Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika on the necessity of taking part in the election scheduled for May 10, controversial preacher Sheikh Shams al-Din Buroubi said the Libyan scenario is likely to be repeated in Algeria if citizens do not cast their votes.
“Voting in the May 10 elections is a duty as vital as an honest testimony that is bound to make the truth known or to put an end to corruption,” Buroubi said in his fatwa. “Whoever does not perform this duty will have committed a grave sin.”
Buroubi mentioned in his fatwa the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, known for his colonial views on Algeria, and said that the “Algerian Spring” is close.
“Colonial powers are waiting for people to abstain from voting so they can then claim that they want to liberate Algerians from tyranny and allow NATO to interfere as happened in Libya.”
Buroubi denied that his fatwa was aimed at supporting the statements of the president, who warned of “dangers” he did not specify in case Algerians do not take part in the elections.
“Nobody asked me to issue this fatwa and I didn’t issue it to please anyone,” he told Al Arabiya. “This fatwa is based on the rules of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet.”
Buroubi added that his approach to participating in or boycotting the elections is not political, but rather religious.
“The stability of Algeria is every citizen’s duty and in Islam leaving a duty in a way that disrupts order is a sin.”
Regarding the link he made between not taking part in elections and NATO attacks, Buroubi said that powers he called “neo-colonial” are trying to impose their version of democracy on the Muslim world by force.
“This is what NATO did in Libya and can do here again if people boycott the elections.”
Even if the elections are rigged, he added, the people will stage a revolution to set things rights without any foreign intervention.
“Plus, if the elections are rigged people would have done their duty and it will be the government that betrayed them.”
For Algerian opposition, Buroubi’s fatwa seems to echo the position of the authorities and the president.
“For almost a year now, the government has been scaring people by warning them of the dangers of not voting,” chairman of the Rally for Culture and Democracy Party, Mohsen Belabbas, told Al Arabiya.
“What the sheikh said is not something he invented. He is just repeating the warnings of the authorities.”
Belabbas, whose party declared boycotting the elections, said that this tactic has been followed by the government in every election.
“But the people have enough awareness and we have seen several prominent freedom fighters who belong to the ruling party yet did not take part in those festival-like elections.”
For Belabbas, terrorizing people with NATO option covers up other real problems afflicting Algeria.
“I don’t think NATO is the reason for Algeria’s problems. Unemployment and housing are the real problems,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)