Madani, ?Abbasi (1931– )

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MADANI, ˓ABBASI (1931– )

Algerian Islamic activist and opposition leader, ˓Abbasi Madani was born in 1931 in Sidi ˓Uqbah, in southeastern Algeria. An early member of the National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale, or FLN), Madani was imprisoned throughout the eight-year war against the French. After the independence in 1962, Madani joined the Qiyam (Islamic values) association and took a critical stance against the socialist and secular orientation of the FLN. He received a religious education, then studied philosophy and psychology, and in 1978 received a Ph.D. in education in Britain. Madani upheld the ideas of Algeria's reformist movement and criticized the state's secular policies, calling for Islamic revival and the Arabization of the predominantly francophone educational system.

Madani ascended the political ladder during anti-FLN riots in October 1988. The following year he founded the religiously inspired Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut, or FIS), which quickly became the opposition party, representing the vast majority of the urban poor. Madani's first electoral victory came in June 1990, during Algeria's first multiparty municipal elections, and subsequently he emerged as the potential successor to the then-president Chadli Benjedid. In May 1991, Madani called for an indefinite general strike to protest against a new electoral legislation, but was arrested soon thereafter. During his incarceration, military intervention against FIS's success in the first round of the December 1991 national elections resulted in the party's ban and years of civil violence. He was freed in July 1997. Madani endorsed the beliefs of many Islamic modernists who call for an Islamic solution to the crisis of modernity and, through the FIS, brought Islam to the fore-front of Algerian national identity.

See alsoIslamic Salvation Front ; Political Organization ; Reform: Arab Middle East and North Africa .


Burgat, Francois, and Dowell, William. The Islamic Movement in North Africa. Austin: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1993.

Ciment, James. Algeria. The Fundamentalist Challenge. New York: Facts on File, 1997.

Claudia Gazzini