Today my arabic teacher didn’t show up to class. So that means that I have a free 1.5 hours to do something before my 3:30 class. So I’m writing this blog post instead of working on research for my final paper in North African Government and Politics (NAGP). Haha. But I guess to be semi-productive, I’ll write about how interesting my paper topic is!
My professor gave us a list of questions that we could pick from, one pertaining to each week of our class reading. So I knew which one I wanted to pick right away: Islamist parties. I don’t know why they intrigue me so much. That, along with terrorism and national security really pique my interest (although, not when it deals with the United States). Last summer, my final arabic presentation was on Moroccan National Security, and I researched the Casablanca bombings of 2003 and the Café Argana (Marrakech) bombing in 2011. The latter was the work of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which I had never even heard of before; and now they are all over the news with all that’s going on in Mali and Algeria. I’ll be writing another article for the Princeton Progressive Nation on AQIM and the events in Algeria.
Anyways, back to my final paper for NAGP. The question I’m exploring is, “Why did the Islamists fail to take power in Algeria?” An important thing to note is that there was not just one Islamist party in Algeria, and that their failure to take power is just the idea that the FLN kept control of the government after the Algerian civil war (1991-2002). Right now, I am combing through my sources for quotes that I can use in my paper. The article I am looking at now is written by Mohammed Hafez, “From Marginalization to Massacres: A Political Process Explanation of GIA Violence in Algeria.” As the title explains, it focuses mainly on the Islamist party al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyah al-Musallaha, or the Armed Islamic Group, GIA. The GIA is the most radical Islamist group that arose in Algeria, as they are (most probably) responsible for the horrendous massacres from 1996-9 that killed thousands of Algerian civilians.
As I read more and more about not only Islamist parties, but also the Algerian civil war, I begin to wonder, why have I never learned about this before? Why did I never read about this in my world history class? No one has ever mentioned this to me before, even in my “Issues in Contemporary North Africa” class last summer. Come to think of it, the American educational system is extremely lacking in African/Middle Eastern history. We are taught in such a euro- and ameri-centric way that it’s actually quite abhorrent how much I know about other regions of the world. Maybe that’s why I like college so much: because I get to learn about things that I had never even heard of in high school. I mean, as a high schooler, I would have never thought that I would be studying abroad in Morocco (of all places!)! I would have never thought that I would learn Russian and Arabic in college and discover a passion for philosophy.
Well, I think I’ve gotten sufficiently off-topic. I would just like to close by saying that my final paper for NAGP will be very interesting, and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to learn about these fascinating events that I have never been exposed to.