Front Islamique du Salut (FIS)

views updated


Algerian Islamic political party.

The Front Islamique du Salut (FIS, Islamic Salvation Front) is Algeria's largest Islamic political party. Founded in February 1989 by a large group of Algerian religious leaders, the FIS calls for the establishment of an Islamic state based on the Sunna and the Qurʾan. It is headed by Abassi al-Madani, a university professor, and Ali Belhadj, a radical imam. Since their imprisonment in June 1991, Abdelkader Hachani has served as the provisional leader. The principle structures of the party are the Majlis al-Shura, a consultative body of some forty religious leaders, and the National Executive Bureau.

The FIS has been Algeria's most highly mobilized party. It has gained substantial financing from local businessmen and Saudi Arabian sources. With solid support from the young, urban unemployed, it won the most votes in Algeria's last two elections. In the June 1990 elections for regional and municipal assemblies, it garnered 55 percent of the vote and an absolute majority of the seats. In the first round of National Assembly elections in December 1991, the FIS won 188 of the 430 seats and was poised to win an absolute majority in the second round. The Algerian army staged a coup d'état in January 1992, arrested thousands of FIS members, and declared the party illegal. Since then, the party has been in a state of disarray, its entire leadership imprisoned, and its activities repressed.

See also Belhadj, ali; Madani, Abassi al-; Qurʾan; Sunna.


Quandt, William B. Between Ballots and Bullets: Algeria's Transition from Authoritarianism. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1998.

Shahin, Emad Eldin. Political Ascent: Contemporary Islamic Movements in North Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997.

Bradford Dillman