Rashad Movement Raises Fears of Islamists Returning to Algeria

The Islamic Rashad movement has led the political scene in Algeria recently, when a group of lawyers called for classifying the movement as a “terrorist organization”. Accusations began to appear about the Turkish role in supporting the MB and the Islamic movements in Algeria, amid the continuing popular movement calling for radical changes.

The debate has focused on Rachad movement, reopening of the past and the “Algerian civil war” that the Algerians suffered from, as the government fought a grinding war against “extremists”, and an estimated 200,000 people were killed at the time.

A group of Algerian lawyers asked the Ministry of Justice in the capital on Sunday, to classify “Rashad Movement” as a “terrorist” organization in Algeria. The presidency accused the Rashad movement, as it (a movement with a close reference to terrorism), strongly worded accusations of exploiting the weekly rallies to carry out “acts of incitement and deviations.”

Between the civil war and Turkey

Abdelmadjid Tebboune the Algerian President, during a meeting of the Supreme Security Council last week, issued his orders for the immediate and strict implementation of the law to stop these activities and unprecedented abuses against state institutions and its symbols that try to obstruct the democratic and development path.

It is noteworthy that the popular movement has returned to the streets of Algiers and other cities, starting from the second anniversary of the movement, on February 22, after a year of closure due to Covid 19, amid fears that “Rashad” may use the “smile revolution” in the movement for its own agenda.

While a number of Algerian popular movement activists believe that the authorities are seeking to divide the demonstrators by spreading fear from “Rashad”, Turkey has been accused of supporting the movement as a “Brotherhood movement” and an extension of “Islamic Salvation Front,” which for years was a cause of chaos and civil war.

A secret French memorandum has revealed that the Turkish intelligence services secretly received the cadres of Rashad Movement in both Antalya and Istanbul, as the movement’s envoys obtained promises to provide financial aid and logistical support to enhance their propaganda activities to attract the Algerian street.

The leaked memorandum indicated that the Turks were keen to secure communications for the Algerian movement’s cadres with other Islamist opponents from other Arab countries who run media outlets broadcasting from Turkey.

Experts from the French Global Watch Analyze Center for Geopolitical Studies, considered that the aim of these secret visits of Algerian Islamists to Turkey is to raise funds to launch a new television channel based in London or Istanbul, to strengthen the movement’s discourse and attract the Algerian street.

What is Rashad movement ..

Rashad movement, which is based in Europe, has no clear identity, and its members do not announce their presence. However, the Algerian authorities describe Rashad as a movement “with a reference close to terrorism”, because the most prominent founders of the movement since 2007 and its activists are former leaders of the banned Salvation Front. Among these leaders is Mourad Dhina, the general coordinator for Rashed, who is wanted by the Algerian judiciary on terrorism charges and is sentenced in absentia to 20 years’ imprisonment.

“The movement takes the army-led coup on the electoral track on January 11, 1992, after the victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (banned since March 1992) as a main point and a determinant of its political activity,” the Algerian authorities says.

However, Rashad, which used to own “Al-Asr” television channel broadcasting from abroad, denies any tendency to use violence or incitement, and announce in its declared charters and literature that it “pursues non-violence as a way to change.” The movement defines itself as “an Algerian movement that was initiated and called for by a group of Algerians who were known for their principled opposition to the regime that resulted from the coup of January 11, 1992, as independents or under other frameworks.”

The movement defines itself as “a wide space for all Algerians, regardless of their different views and the diversity of their tendencies, and it rejects extremism in all forms, and rejects all practices of exclusion and discrimination.”

Rashad says on its website that it has participated in the movement’s marches since its inception in early 2019, and affirms that it “eliminates all forms of extremism … and calls for non-violence.”

Symbols of the Civil War

Mourad Dhina, the executive director of the Geneva-based Al-Karamah Organization for Human Rights and the second leader of Rashad movement, is one of the most prominent leaders of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria. Despite Dhina’s escape to Switzerland, this did not prevent Charles Pasqua the late French Interior Minister, of his accusation of involvement in smuggling weapons to Algeria in 1993, from Switzerland and Sudan, where Dhina was also staying during the government of Omar al-Bashir.

In 2003, the Algerian judiciary submitted a global arrest warrant against Dahina to Interpol, after he was accused of being involved in supporting the Armed Islamic Group, which committed dozens of terrorist operations and massacres in Algeria and France as well, to be later sentenced in absentia to 20 years’ imprisonment.

In 2004, after the release of the leaders of the Islamic Salvation Front, Abbassi Madani and Ali Belhadj, Dhina decided to leave the leadership of the front office abroad, and refused national reconciliation in Algeria. In 2006, he called explicitly for “legitimate armed action” against the state.

The Algerian state pursued a number of figures affiliated with Rashad. At the end of last March, a court in Algiers issued international arrest warrants against 4 accused of belonging to the terrorist group, headed by Mohamed Larbi Zitout, one of the leaders of Rashad, the blogger Amir Boukhars, known as “Amir de Z”, Hichem Aboud the former intelligence service officer well-known journalist , and a fourth person named Muhammad Abdullah.

Zitout is considered one of the most prominent founders of “Rashad” in 2007, after he worked for a long time in the diplomatic corps and Algerian intelligence, in Libya until 1991, after which he defected and went to London in 1995.

Wikipedia defines the movement as “an Algerian movement opposing the regime in Algeria (which was born after the coup of 12 January 1992).

Rashad was established in 2007. A group of independent Algerians or affiliated with other frameworks established Rashad movment they are: (Mourad Dhina,Mohamed Larbi Zitout, Mohamed Samrawi, Abbas Erwa, Rachid Mosali) where it became evident for them, to meet within a movement that would serve as the driving force of comprehensive change in Algeria.

It is a resistance movement, but it does not believe in the use of violence as a way to do that, but rather adopts the method of peaceful protests, including civil disobedience. The movement’s goals: “The movement seeks comprehensive fundamental change in Algeria. A change that ends the tyranny of the rule and its nature, resulting in building and laying the foundations of Rashed’s rule, that restores to the people his honor and safety, the homeland its sanctity and integrity, and the human being – before that – his freedom and dignity.

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