Zaoui party: high ideals and terror

Severine Labat, a political scientist at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and author of The Algerian Islamists, says: “The FIS was not pluralistic at all. In reality it was a completely fascist party.”

They and others point to the documents issued by FIS at its founding that heralded a crackdown on women’s independence, on non-Islamist thinking and homosexuals.

And they record that several leading members of the FIS later joined the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) – the ruthless group that fought Algeria’s armed forces, but also slaughtered political dissidents and killed thousands of Algerian villagers in its bid to foment a revolution.

After its founding by a broad alliance of factions, the FIS issued two documents on March 7 1989 to spell out its aims and principles.

The Herald has obtained copies of these documents.

A seven-point charter gives a resume of the organisation’s aims and principles. It says the party was created in response to a public clamour for a “genuine Islamic society”. Supported by relevant quotations from the Koran, this document says the planned society would be based on “justice, liberty and democracy … moderation, the middle ground and universality”.

The other document, the FIS “draft political programme”, explains how these goals would be achieved in trade, finance, industry and agriculture, again emphasising freedom of expression, moderation and justice.

Its most detailed section deals with “social policy”, notably education, women and health.

Under Article 3, schooling would be conducted on a single-sex basis, based on “respect for Islamic values and good morals inspired by Sharia”, or Islamic law.

Article 14 would guarantee work to fathers and offer pensions to women who stay at home to raise their children.

“The Muslim woman is an irreplaceable force, culturally, socially and psychologically”, it adds. To help her channel this force, the FIS “would strengthen women’s faith and good morals … [and] fight against moral dissolution and blind mimicry” – a reference to western fashions.

On health and sexuality, the programme did not have good news for gays, adulterers and others who have sex out of wedlock. The FIS would “fight the depraved and the licentious considered by religion and confirmed by science to be high-risk groups for transmitting venereal diseases such as syphilis, AIDS … ”

Zaoui party: high ideals and terror