Dr. Abbassi Madani (Arabic عباسي مدني) was born 28 February 1931 at Diyar Ben Aissa, Sidi Okba (now in Biskra Province). He was the President of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria. As its leader he became the voice of a large part of the dispossessed Algerian youth.
In his youth he joined the National Liberation Front (FLN) and participated in the first day of the Algerian War of Independence, 1 November 1954, by planting a bomb at an Algiers radio facility, but was arrested by the French on 17 November 1954, and remained in jail until independence in 1962. After studying for a doctorate in educational psychology in London from 1975 to 1978, he became a professor of educational sciences at the University of Algiers. Madani grew critical of the FLN's socialist orientation, and in 1989, after the Algerian Constitution was changed to allow multiparty democracy, he co-founded the democratic Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which rapidly grew to enjoy success in the ensuing local elections. Madani contended that the Islamic essence of November 1954 was betrayed by the Charters of Tripoli and Algeria, along with other charters upheld by Houari Boumediene and Chadli Bendjedid.
Madani advocated, on the one hand, the "stepwise" introduction of Sharia (Islamic Law) and called Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the founder of the dominant religious movement in Saudi Arabia, the "avant-garde of the reform-oriented Muslim world". On the other hand, he declared that his party had no intention to impose the wearing of the veil or to ban women from driving. He named the liberal Muslim reformer Muhammad Abduh as part of the same "avant-garde" as Abd al-Wahab. In a 1990 interview he said he wanted to suppress "usury" in banking and to substantially reduce taxes, while he avoided answering a question about the financing of development projects. In the 1980s he advocated for the arabization of the education system in Algeria while he sent two of his own daughters to a French high school in Algiers.
Politically, he was widely considered to represent the moderate wing of FIS, contrasted with Ali Belhadj's more hardline views. His positions included free markets, early Islamic education, Arabization of education and government, segregation of the sexes, and sharia-based law. He expressed support for democracy, but with the reservation that it could not override Sharia law.
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