ALGERIA, in the middle of the Maghreb, is on the African coast of the Mediterranean. ALGERIA is a big country that stretches on 2,382,000 km and has a population of about 34 millions people (05/2007).
ALGERIA got its independence after a long, bloody war against French occupation in 1962. Today more than 98% of the population are Muslim Sunnites. About 80% consider themselves Arabs and the rest are Berbers.
All are speaking Arabic, French and also dialects of Berber. Most of the population is living in the North along the Mediterranean. Millions of km in the Sahara hinterland are almost completely empty. This vast, empty area is, in fact, ungoverned but run by local nomad tribes and a safe haven for outlaws including Islamic militants and Al Qaeda supporters.
The friction with Western French Christian and democratic culture, in ALGERIA, resulted in some very extreme Islamic groups with the ideology of Global Jihad.
In 12/1991, in the first multi-party elections held in ALGERIA, the “Islamic Salvation Front” won the election and took the majority in the parliament. On January 1992 the ALGERIAn Army took over, in a sort of a military coup, the regime and ALGERIA plunged to a bloody civil war between the Army and Islamic groups that claimed the life of more than 160,000 people.
In 1995 all political commentators were united in the impression that the question is not if the ALGERIAn regime will collapse but when it will happen – the next week or the next month.
In 1998 the Military regime began to gain the upper hand in the civil war and managed to crackdown, gradually, the Islamic insurgence. Islamic militants fled in their thousands from ALGERIA to Europe and very often established Islamic terror cells in Europe. Today (05/2007) these ALGERIAn cells are a major concern to Europe’s security services.
Unlike any other Arab Muslim country the military regime, after 1998, did not turn to a military dictatorship but back to democracy.
Despite the violent confrontation with Islamists in the country ALGERIA is the only Muslim Arab country with fair, free multi-party elections held regularly every 4 years. ALGERIA turned toward democracy not because it was imported by a foreign power, imposed on the local society, but by its own choice.
ALGERIA is the best example of successful confrontation with the extreme Islam and the regular elections are a major victory over the Global Jihad.
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