As Their Influence Grows, the Maghreb’s ‘Quietist’ Salafists Are Anything but Quiet

A man shouts anti-government slogans during a demonstration organized by Salafists, Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 6, 2012 (AP photo by Amine Landoulsi).
A man shouts anti-government slogans during a demonstration organized by Salafists, Tunis, Tunisia, Nov. 6, 2012 (AP photo by Amine Landoulsi).

Adherents of Salafism, the literalist, Saudi-inspired current of Islamism, are growing in influence across North Africa. This is especially true for the so-called quietist current, which theoretically eschews overt political activism but is increasingly asserting itself in the political and social spheres. In some states in the Maghreb, authoritarian regimes are partly responsible for the quietist salafists' rise. BENGHAZI—The young fighters huddled on lawn chairs in the nighttime shadows of the militia camp, smoking and drinking coffee. Around them in a courtyard sat the machinery of war: howitzers, tanks and truck-mounted recoilless rifles. Artillery and rockets boomed in the distance. […]

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