Front Islamique du salut

Algerian political party, illegal since 1992. Central in the militant opposition to the regime of Algeria.

  • FIS has in the last 5 years been the strongest opponent to the existing regime of Algeria. Until 1992 FIS was gaining ground in democratic elections, but on the eve of their final victory, they were forced out of Algeria's democratic structure. FIS has in the following period conducted an armed battle against the governors of Algeria, which they look upon as usurpators. In 1989 and 1990 there were big demonstrations in favour of a society governed by the Sharia- law, and for an arabization of the society. FIS made use of the rebellion among the youth of Algiers in October 1988, that soon spread to other cities like Oran, Mostagenem and Blida. from 1989 to 1992.
  • FIS was founded in March 1989, and was officially legalised in September. FIS participated in the local elections in June 12, 1990, where they won a clear victory to the ruling FLN, with 65% against 28%. FIS gets the majority in half of the counties, included most of the larger cities. The only exeption to this pattern is in Kabylia and in Sahara. These elections were free and fair, but boycotted by big opposition parties.
  • FIS governed the counties like they were ummas, and little concern was shown for individual rights. In the discurs, democracy was regarded as something Western
  • FIS was controlled by a council, called Majlisu sh-Shura, made up of 30- 40 members. FIS was in the early 1990s divided into two fractions, those who wnated to go the path of democracy and elections, and the "Afghans", veterans from the Afghani battle against Soviet occupation. Inside the Majlisu sh-Shura, there were another division line, between the Salafis and the Jaza'irs. The Salafis was a group that simply said wanted to adjust society to the teaching of the Koran, while the Jaza'irs wanted to sometimes adjust the Koran to the time and the culture. The Jaza'irs came into leading position in 1991, and FIS starts preparing for the elections. At the same time FIS had their own labour movement, that was used to instigate strikes, like in June 1992. The leaders were in the civilian life teacher in high school (Ali Belhadj- Salafi), professor in psychology (Abassi Madani- Salafi), and oil engeneer (Abdelkader Hachani- Jaza'ir).
  • Ali Belhadj and Abassi Madani are arrested, as the Algerian rulers want to have Abdelkader Hachani, who is more moderate, in the leadership. Hachani is conducting the electoral, and is putting sympethisers in central positions. Yet, there are strong undercurrents inside the party that opposes going to the elections while leaders like Ali Belhadj and Abassi Madani are still arrested. On November 28 there was an attempt by the "Afghans", where three police officers were killed. FIS had demanded the release of its leaders, but gives this up on December 14, less than two weeks before the elections.
  • The FIS that participated in these elections was an effective body, that in the last days registered citizens, handing people their first identity card. In the first round of elections FIS won 188 of the 429 seats in the national assembly. FLN won only 15, and was even beaten by FFS (Front de foreces socialistes), who won 25 seats. The difference in real votes, was less clear, FIS had won "only" twice as many ballots than FLN. FLN was even far bigger than FFS, with three times more votes. The election turnout, had been far below 50%, and FIS did not have the total majority, but would probably win more than half of the seats in teh national assembly.
  • Following the elections, FIS was afraid that they could provoke strong actions from the governments' side. It was the leader of RCD (Rassamblement pour la culture et la démocratie), a party that had received only a fractions of the expected ballots in the election, who first demanded that the second round of elections should be called off. These demands were not met with understanding by former prime minister Mouloud Hamrouche of the FLN. The problem was now 'democracy', would a dominating FIS lead to democracy? Could the elecions be called off, without jeopardising the democracy?
  • The general staff soon came up with a strong ultimatum, president Cahdly had to be removed, and FIS forbidden.
  • Since 1992 Algeria moved towards a sitaution of civil war, and AIS, the military branch of FIS, have been the active part of the organisation. Yet, there have been ongoing talks between the jailed leaders of FIS and the government, especially because the Algerian leaders have realised that FIS is the lesser of two evils, when the activities of GIA is concerned.
  • With the elections of November 28, 1996, where a new constitution bans parties that define themselves from relgious or ethical definitions.

© 1996-1997 CiAS | By: Tore Kjeilen.