Al-Qaeda has seized upon ongoing efforts to secularize education and stop radicalization in North Africa in order to whip up Muslims into fighting against the “war on Islam” countries of Algeria and Tunisia.
Algerian Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit publicly supported the decision of an Algerian school in Paris to stop a student from praying during the school day.
“Students go to school for education,” Benghabrit said, adding that prayer “is meant to be done at home, not at school.”
“The student went out to the open school yard on the neighborhood to pray in an ostensible act. The school principal did her job. When students go to schools, it is for education and learning. Prayers are performed at home, and role of schools is to provide teaching and learning,” she elaborated.
That’s sparked debate within Algeria about education reform. In 2017, Benghabrit said that “In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most merciful” should be stricken from all school textbooks except for religion class. Last year, Benghabrit banned teachers from wearing the niqab face veil that exposes only the eyes.
In a statement released in English and Arabic through its Al-Andalus Foundation for Media Production, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb slammed those who have “abandoned the Shar’iah of Allah and replaced it with what is earthly: constitutions and the laws of the infidels; the Jews and the Christians and those who have no faith.”
The terror group accused Benghabrit of ordering “without shame the prevention of prayer in schools, thus defying the feelings of forty million Algerians who believe in Islam, as a creed, a Shar’iah, and as a way of life.”
Calling the minister a “Frenchified Algerian,” AQIM accused her of committing “the crime of violating the sanctity of Islam” before with a “filthy record” of trying to design an educational system “that is completely free of the foundations and the principles of the Islamic identity.”
“The insolent minister is in reality an extension of the Westernizing project that aims, among other things, to destroy the Islamic identity of the Algerian nation, that the French Crusaders sought for a long time during the colonial era,” the statement continued. “… If they are not confronted, the generation that will graduate from this system will have nothing to do with the original foundations of islam.”
AQIM also lashed out at the official response to an investigative journalism show on Tunisia’s El Hiwar El Tounsi channel that profiled a Quranic school in the rural town of Regueb, which was indoctrinating 42 kids between the ages of 10 and 18. The children were reportedly subjected to forced labor and poor living conditions, and some suffered sexual abuse and health maladies.
Schools teaching Quranic study under the supervision of the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs are allowed in Tunisia, but independent madrassas are outlawed. Authorities quickly shut down the school in Regueb, citing the need to protect the children.
Al-Qaeda blamed “heated and repeated media campaigns to incite against Qur’anic schools by the disgraceful media,” saying the incident “shows clearly that the issue is masterminded, as was confirmed by the intersection of the hired media and the corrupt politicians.”
“Through these intense media and security campaigns, they only want to distort Qur’anic schools in order to shut them down without a major effort. These Qur’anic schools are the ones that continue to resist, like strong fortresses, the campaigns of Westernization and Christianization,” AQIM continued.
“Our honorable people in Algeria and Tunisia: silence to those rulers who oppress you, who do not have an atom of honor, pride, or faith, is in itself a crime. How long will you be silent to those criminal scum who have no business other than fighting Islam and demeaning Muslims?” the terror group added, calling upon them to “fight the Jews, the Christians and whoever follows them among the Arab and foreign leaders.”