Interview with Anwar N. Haddam: An Islamist Vision for Algeria
by Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson
ISLAMIC SALVATION FRONT
MEQ: Please tell us about the organization you represent.
Haddam: I am an elected member of parliament of Algeria and am a member of the Islamic Salvation Front. Now I head the FIS Parliamentary Delegation, which includes many of those elected to parliament. We have been sent abroad to express the FIS viewpoint about the crisis in Algeria. The FIS being the party of the majority, part of our mission is to prepare the future diplomatic relations between the Islamic State of Algeria and foreign states.
MEQ: You represent the FIS in the United States?
Haddam: To be exact, I head the Parliamentary Delegation here and in Europe.
MEQ: There has been some controversy about differences of view within the FIS. Could you comment on the issue of moderates versus radicals within the organization? Is that an accurate description?
Haddam: I have my own view of the matter but don't want to get entangled in it. The FIS is a democratic party; different views may be found within it.
MEQ: Is there a cultural dimension to the FIS program?
Haddam: The Algerian people are winning back an awareness of their own identity. We were colonized by the French for more than a hundred and thirty years. Since 1962, we have not really been independent. We had military independence, but nothing more, being dependent in economic policy, foreign policy, foreign trade, defense policy, and so forth. Now we want back our own identity, and that's our right. This is our message in all the Muslim world.
Of course because we are Muslims, Islamic parties win a majority of support; that's normal and obvious. The problem is that there are some people within the Arab world and the Muslim world who think that they have to stay within the Western ideological and civilizational sphere, who think that France should remain in Algeria.
The cultural dimension to the program put forward by the FIS rejects this assimilationist approach and instead accepts the concept of the coexistence of civilizations. It aims at the preservation of the cultural and historical traditions of the Algerian society (Islam, Arabism, Amazighism),1 for these constitute the elements of its identity. Also, we see the rehabilitation of science for peaceful purposes of paramount importance.
Algeria could be the bridge between our two civilizations, being close to France and being part of the Muslim world. All over the Muslim world, there is an awareness that what is taking place in Algeria could be an example to be followed by every Muslim country.
THE ROLE OF ISLAM
MEQ: What do you seek for your country?
Haddam: As we explained very clearly on many occasions (most recently in Stockholm, Sweden last February during a FIS Conference for Peace in Algeria, hosted by the Christian Democrat Party of Sweden), the FIS seeks the right for the Algerian people to choose freely their own political authority.
MEQ: Once they have chosen, what is the program that your party . . .
Haddam: The program that we have been elected for.
MEQ: What is that?
Haddam: I do not think it is the right time to talk about the FIS program. We expressed ourselves clearly to our people during the election campaign of 1991. It is not up to the international community to veto the choice of the Algerian people; rather, the West should extend the respect of pluralism and the multiparty system outside its own borders. The Third World should also listen to our appeals of conscience, for Algeria is part of it. Concerning the FIS program, it is available in our documentation:
[Haddam here quotes at great length from "Algerian Crisis" document]
MEQ: What should the role of political Islam be in Algeria?
Haddam: We have to define what "political Islam" means, for it has been so badly misinterpreted. People in the West started with the idea that economic growth requires the separation of church and state. Some people are trying now to apply this idea to Muslim life too, and to separate religion from the state. But we consider Islam a way of life and so we do not accept it being separated from the state.
This does not mean that the FIS intends to establish a theocratic state. The Islamic state we envision in Algeria will be a state of law. The Algerian Political Islam movement, since its start in the 1930s, through the writings of Sheikh Ibn Badis,2 expressed clearly that people have the right to choose freely their political authority and the right to organize themselves. During the Algerian multiparty negotiations in Rome, at which I was the head of the FIS delegation,3 the FIS was the party that forwarded these principles and asked all the parties to put them in the platform. This is what we, in the FIS, understand by the term "Islamic state."
We are Muslims. Islam is not Christianity or Judaism, it is Islam. I understand that people, even in Islamic movements around the world, have problems with the Algerian Islamic movement, with our interpretation of the Shari'a [Islamic sacred law]. I understand that. It seems to us that these Islamic movements are missing a crucial point about the Shari'a, its human dimension.
MEQ: How might the Islamic State of Algeria be similar to or differ from the Islamic Republic of Iran?
Haddam: We would rather express ourselves and let other people make comparisons. We don't want to establish a theocratic state. We don't believe a certain group of people have the divine authority to impose their vision on society. We seek a republic and with all what that means -- political authority based on the popular will, on the separation of powers (legislative, executive, judicial), on a multiparty system, and so forth. The idea of imposing Islam does not exist in Islam.
MEQ: No imposition of Islam, but if you are a Muslim living in a Muslim state, you must live by the Shari'a: correct?
Haddam: Yes, of course, but was does "Shari'a" mean?
MEQ: You tell us.
Haddam: People miss a main characteristic of the Shari'a, its flexibility. They ignore the possibility of humans' interpreting the Shari'a.
MEQ: Each individual may interpret the Shari'a as he sees fit? Some might say the prohibition on alcohol includes beer, others may say it does not?
Haddam: There is an equal opportunity to access knowledge. As a physicist, I cannot draw conclusions in fields in which I am not expert.
MEQ: Where, then, is the flexibility?
Haddam: In the fact that some parts of Shari'a, the thawabit, are fixed and others, the mutaghayyarat, might change. Some schools of thought in Islam permit beer, others do not. More broadly, we don't have a fixed economic or political or social system. It is up to the society, according to its development. The Islamic State of Algeria will be a republic based on Islamic principles. People went too far, from separating between church and state to separating between religion and state, even to separating moral values from the state.
MEQ: In a famous statement, Assistant Secretary of State Edward Djerejian in June 1992 implied that FIS rule in Algeria would lead to a situation of "one man, one vote, one time."4 How do you reply to that?
Haddam: Well, we have never had power. It is unfair to justify, by that statement, what is going on now in Algeria. The people in power now never even allowed "one man, one vote, one time."
MEQ: 'Ali Belhadj, the leader of FIS, has been quoted as saying, "When we are in power there will be no more elections because God will be ruling."5
Haddam: He has been misquoted. He has been accused of things out of bitterness. He wrote a book6 in which he expressed himself clearly in favor of democracy. In it, he writes on page 91 that "the West progressed by defeating tyranny and preserving freedoms; this is the secret of the Western world's remarkable progress." Belhadj refers many times to the Western world and to those very values that people are trying to deny us within our own borders.
MEQ: But isn't he also the man who called Western civilization "syphilization"?7
MEQ: So you find something admirable about Western civilization?
Haddam: I am trying to describe its good aspects.
MEQ: Democracy is something good?
Haddam: Of course. It is a common value. Indeed, if you go into the history of democracy, you'll find it came from the Islamic world first.
MEQ: How so?
Haddam: From Andalusia [i.e., Muslim Spain].
Haddam: Remember what happened during the medieval period. Where was European civilization at that time?
MEQ: Tell us about democracy. Where in Spain did it come from exactly? The Umayyads, Muluk at-Tawa'if, the Nasrids?8
Haddam: No. First we must define what democracy is. If you say democracy is based on the two main principles of the popular will and the separation between powers, then you've got Islam. This is our program in Algeria.
MEQ: You said that democracy comes from the Muslim world, from Andalusia. Could you tell us more about those origins?
Haddam: People have so misused this term democracy. You have a democracy in Europe that is not the same in France as it is in Germany or in the United States. But people use the same term democracy. The basis of democracy, though not the word democracy, came from Islam.
MEQ: Where? When?
Haddam: Muslims were the first to call for the right of people freely to choose their political authority.
MEQ: Where and when was that done first? The first four caliphs?
Haddam: By the Prophet Muhammad and the first four caliphs. They never imposed themselves on the people. Then came kingship and it imposed itself; we in the Muslim world have faced some tyrannical regimes. There is a nice book by [the Indo-Pakistani thinker Abu'l A'la] Mawdudi, Caliphate and Kingship,9 that explains the deviation from correct Islam, about the change from caliphate to kingship.
In Algeria, the FIS and the Algerian people at large chose the Islamic way, an honest political competition through the ballot boxes. But the military establishment insisted on being outside the democratic process and imposed itself by the barrel of the gun.
MEQ: Are you saying that the Islamic concept of shura [consultation] is the basis of democracy in the Muslim world?
Haddam: It could be, yes.
MEQ: Why were the two elections of 1991 free and fair and the election of November 1995 illegitimate? What was different between the first two and the latter one?
Haddam: This regime is illegitimate, having come to power through a military coup d'état. It is unconstitutional. That's why it cannot conduct free and fair elections.
MEQ: Weren't the 1991 elections also organized by a regime that came to power as a dictatorship?
Haddam: What happened after the events of October 198810 was that the military regime decided to make a change, going from one-party rule to multiparty rule. The Islamic movement thought the time had come to turn from a da'wa [calling for and educating about Islam] movement into a political movement as well. The time had come for people to choose freely. Therefore, we asked the military regime of Chadli Benjedid to open the way for multiparty elections. We had a five-page letter by Sheikh Sahnoun, a leader of the movement,11 and this was accepted in the constitution of February 1989. Based on this new constitution, elections took place.
MEQ: What about the specific procedures of the 1991 and 1995 elections? Did they differ?
Haddam: The 1991 elections were open, free, and fair elections, the 1995 ones not. The deal made with President Chadli was: we will go with fair elections and in return the military respects it.
We formed the FIS in 1989 and called for political change, responding to the calls for political change. Chadli did accept a certain limit but then the military stopped the process, not wanting to come under the control of civilian leaders.
MEQ: Why then did 70 percent of the electorate vote in the November 1995 elections, versus just 58 percent in 1991?
Haddam: We don't know the exact numbers. It not being a free and fair election, we lack accurate data about it.
MEQ: But we know that Algerians living in France voted at about this rate.
Haddam: Algerians in France are not representative of Algerian society. They are disproportionately RCD,12 a party that did not win a single seat in the 1991 parliamentary election. It is immoral and unjust to judge the Algerian people on a not-free and not-fair election.
They were not free because the electorate was told that the election card would be an instrument of survival after the election. We Algerians have for many years been accustomed to having to prove to officials that we have voted in order to have access to public services and obtain crucial documents. Algerians, in other words, did not freely decide to vote but were coerced into doing so.
The election was held under emergency rule and in a state of total insecurity. Thousands of political figures are under detention, including those already chosen freely by the Algerian people. The regime alone controls the flow of information.
The election was held according to an election law drafted by a rubber-stamp legislative to suit the military/security establishment and to preserve the status quo. Then the results were doctored. Yes, they showed more sophistication than those with a 99.9 percent result, but they were just as phoney.
The election was monitored not by international observers but by pseudo-observers, most of them coming from countries with no culture of political pluralism or free and fair elections. How could 102 observers monitor more than 33,000 polling places? A spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General noted before the elections that "The observers are present more as gestures of support than significant monitoring body. . . . It is intended to show support for the election process."13
The Algerian military regime has no future because the Algerian people have decided so. What will be the alternative? Any political reform at a real stability and a return to constitutional legality in the country is doomed to fail if it is attempted through more repression and torture. Thus, the idea to continue to support the engagement of the army in politics will only aggravate the situation, and prolong the plight of the Algerians. Political pluralism, as a way for people to govern themselves, is the way to achieve prosperity, civilizational development, stability, and technological advancement. It is indeed an efficient and self-safeguarding path against tyranny, despotism, and dictatorship.
MEQ: Do you accept the term fundamentalist Islam?
Haddam: The term fundamentalism, so widely used as a label for Islamic groups and regimes and always suggesting a very negative stereotype, does not even exist in the Arabic language, the language of the Qur'an. The word is American dating back to the years immediately following World War I and applies primarily to a conservative Protestant movement that attempted aggressively to impose its traditional beliefs.
MEQ: What is the phenomenon known in the West as fundamentalist Islam?
Haddam: People should not hide behind labels like fundamentalism, terrorism, and the like. We should look into the meaning of those terms, as with the term democracy. The term fundamentalism does not even exist in Arabic, the language in which the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. One cannot impose Islam onto people.
In Rome, during the Algerian multiparty negotiations for peace, the different parties found a common ground. People were surprised that a so-called extremist, that is, myself, from the FIS, was sitting side-by-side with Hocine Aït Ahmed of the Front of Socialist Forces and other so-called moderates.
We, in Islam, we have our own values, we are opposed strongly to those who would like to impose Western values onto us.
MEQ: Such as?
Haddam: We have our own set of values. At the same time, and for that reason, FIS faces problems even within the Islamic movement, we are strongly opposed to those who would like to impose Islam onto people, and to use it as a means to gaining political power.
MEQ: Can you name names?
Haddam: Yes, the military regime in Algeria.
MEQ: It is using Islam?
Haddam: Yes. It was really an amazing situation in Rome. There we were sitting in a church, hammering things out. Then, the Algerian television showed a cross in the church and said, "Look at those people who went to the church! They are dealing with Christians and Jews." And there we, the FIS delegation, were discussing peace, hosted by Christians, as we were last February in Stockholm.
The Algerian people have decided that the military junta should go. We, in the FIS, are trying to achieve this politically, the sooner the better. But the frustration of the population is growing.
VIOLENCE IN ALGERIA
MEQ: What about the violence against foreigners in Algeria?
Haddam: This is a very delicate matter and I would rather refer you to official FIS documents than to make a mistake or be misinterpreted. Let me quote clearly our consistent position concerning violence.
The FIS, based on its interpretation of Islam, has always expressed its outrage at the killings of innocent civilians, especially women and children. The FIS, along with the sincere Freedom Fighters, is opposed to and condemns attacks against individuals, men or women, who exercise their right of peaceful expression, such as scholars, politicians, writers, and journalists who are not directing, or taking a direct part in 'security' operations involving the use of force. Our struggle is in Algeria, with the junta which has confiscated the popular will.14
This position also concerns the killing of foreigners; we condemn attacks on those who have nothing to do with the military regime.
So you see, we do make a clear distinction between terrorism, which we strongly oppose, and freedom fighting.
MEQ: Who is behind the attacks you condemn?
Haddam: That's what we are asking. We challenge the military to accept an independent commission of inquiry to investigate, even an international one. This is our demand.
MEQ: But who do you think is behind the killings?
Haddam: We are investigating this because certain generals are linked to At-Takfir wa'l-Hijra, an extremist element within the GIA (Armed Islamic Group).15 At-Takfir wa'l-Hijra assassinated our people. In November 1995, it took over the leadership of the GIA.
MEQ: At-Takfir wa'l-Hijra is connected to the security forces?
Haddam: They are being used, yes.
MEQ: But At-Takfir wa'l-Hijra is made up of sincere Muslims?
Haddam: I never met them. In any case, their agenda is certainly planned by the security forces to discredit the ongoing freedom fighting from winning back our own identity.
MEQ: Is it true you used to support the GIA?
Haddam: Yes, it's well documented that until November 1995, I did strongly support the GIA. I supported it because we had a pact. We backed the armed struggle as long as it was for the sake of freeing our people, for a return to free elections, and against acts of terrorism.
MEQ: What happened to the GIA in November 1995?
Haddam: A group of people gradually took over the GIA leadership. We were not aware of this at the time. This group assassinated the main FIS leaders. This was this action of Jamal Zeitouni and his group, which eventually revealed its real identity: they are from At-Takfir wa'l-Hijra. Some of them came from Afghanistan. The time has come for us to investigate who was behind this takeover, for it has led to a really dangerous situation.
What happened in Afghanistan was that youth from all over the Muslim world went to help the Afghans fight Russia. But then the security forces of various Arab countries infiltrated their ranks; we have proof of this as far as Algeria is concerned.
MEQ: Who is responsible for the barbarous killings in Algeria?
Haddam: Before November 1995, we are sure it was the military. It is really obvious what happened, I mean they cut off the heads of civilians and threw them into the street; in whose interest is that? Certainly not in ours. We are sure that the national directorate of the mujahidin never permitted such steps.
MEQ: If not the national directorate, perhaps it was elements who did not obey orders?
Haddam: Of course, some individuals did this, but we firmly condemn these acts.
MEQ: Can you assure us that, if it comes to power, FIS will not resort to violence?
Haddam: The West's support of the status quo in the Muslim world is creating great problems. The international community's not recognizing the people's right to choose their own political authority radicalizes the armed struggle. If the FIS comes to the power through evolutionary change, we can assure that its program will be implemented. But if we have to bring down the military regime through armed struggle, we cannot be sure what changes a revolution will bring. This is the main problem facing Algeria ahead.
THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION
MEQ: What about the attitudes of the U.S. government toward your movement and toward yourself? Are you pleased with these?
Haddam: I would rather talk about the movement and what is going on in Algeria because people are trying to portray the crisis in Algeria as the crisis of our movement. No. The problem in Algeria is that, the Algerian people are ready, and have shown it twice in free and fair elections, to choose freely their political authority and their way of life. But the military establishment rejects this choice. So, the problem in Algeria is not FIS. We have taken the responsibility to oppose the coup d'état of January 11, 1992. The problem is that the military regime rejects the principle of civilian rule.
It's unfortunate the West in general, the United States in particular, did not listen to the voice of the Algerians. We were not that good at expressing ourselves, so it has listened to those so-called representatives of the military regime -- ambassadors and the like. Those people have been using socialist rhetoric for the past thirty years. Now they are trying to win the sympathy of the world, by fanning the flames of fear about Islamic fundamentalism.
MEQ: How about the Clinton administration in more recent years?
Haddam: It does not have a clear foreign policy. This administration is weak in foreign policy. But I don't want to interfere in American internal affairs.
MEQ: And the official U.S. attitude toward the Sant'Egidio Platform you reached in Rome in January 1995?
Haddam: It first supported that process but then changed policy. I don't know what happened; perhaps it had to do with French influence. It appears that the United States leaves the Algerian problem to the French authorities to deal with. We hope soon to see the changes in Algeria policy that Candidate Jacques Chirac promised.
MEQ: Some of your opponents have noted that you live here in the United States while, for example, Rashid al-Ghannushi of the Tunisia opposition cannot even get a visa to visit the United States. They also note that out of the dozens of foreigners killed in Algeria, none have been American -- something very unusual. They draw the conclusion that the U.S. government, expecting that FIS will take over in Algeria, has reached an agreement with FIS.16 Is there any validity to this line of thinking?
Haddam: No. None at all. The FIS is a political party, not an armed organization. Concerning the ongoing violence in Algeria, the FIS is against any act of terrorism and is for the right of people to defend their elected institutions. As for brother Rashid al-Ghannushi, I respect him; we don't have identical views but being close in space, we have some common ground. He might have done something that might prevent him from coming here.
MEQ: The U.S. government is concerned that he is associated with terrorism and violence.
Haddam: We have to define this term, terrorism. I think his problem resulted from his support for Iraq [in 1990-91].
MEQ: And yourself?
Haddam: The United States is a land of refuge for the oppressed. As an elected member of parliament, I have been oppressed by my regime. And I am working to get our rights back.
MEQ: Your presence here does not send a political signal about U.S. policy?
Haddam: I don't feel that it does. If it does, that's fine with me. Of course, we would like to diversify our foreign trade and we made that clear to the U.S. government.
MEQ: Have you been able openly to meet with U.S. government officials during your time here?
Haddam: That is our job, to meet with different people, but the Parliamentary Delegation has a policy of never publicly going into details of our meetings.
MEQ: Why are Americans not being killed in Algeria?
Haddam: Because that is the situation of the Americans; maybe they are more careful; also the Americans have a strong intelligence service, so they would know who is behind that. We are calling on the Americans to help us with an independent commission of inquiry to investigate attacks against innocent people.
MEQ: We would like to go back to the point that people see it as a signal that FIS, and you in particular, are acceptable to the U.S. government in a way that other Islamist movements are not. Do you have a satisfactory relationship with the Clinton administration?
Haddam: It could be better, especially since the Rome agreement, where we called on the international community to express itself clearly against the coup d'état. The FIS calls on the United States to urge the military regime to accept the values and principles in the Rome agreement -- respect for the popular will, the multiparty system, human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the non-interference of the military in political affairs. Why it did not do so, I can't say. They don't have a clear foreign policy.
There is also the problem of double standards: it was clear-cut in Algeria, with free and fair elections' taking place twice, at the local government level and for parliament. How come the military regime is accepted here? How come the administration deals with this military regime?
ECONOMIC RELATIONS WITH THE WEST
MEQ: What sort of economic relations would an Islamic Algeria have with the West?
Haddam: The FIS is a movement that seeks to get the Algerian people back to their own identity. This does not mean being anti-West, for the FIS is calling for a cooperation and a cohabitation between our two worlds.
I realize that there are two issues that people are concerned about: the sources of energy and the problem of Israel. I think those are the main issues. On energy, we don't want the Muslim world to cut off relations to the outside, we don't want to keep the hydrocarbons for ourselves. All that we are asking is our right to benefit from our own natural resources, which we have been prevented from doing. Algeria is a rich country, and yet look at the economic situation.
MEQ: What should be done to increase Algeria's benefits from its natural resources?
Haddam: We were clear since day one on this matter and that very much worried the French. We have to diversify our internal infrastructure away from dependence on oil; Algeria is an agricultural country. Oil in Algeria is now extracted, shipped to the ports, and exported. We get no benefit from this.
MEQ: But you do get money, lots and lots of money.
Haddam: Where is the money? In Swiss bank accounts of those generals, the real holders of power in Algeria. Our economic independence program might not make the International Monetary Fund happy. Algeria's agriculture is bankrupt. Eighty percent of Algeria's wheat is imported. The FIS also wants to diversify our foreign trade, so Algeria will no longer be the backyard of Paris. This perhaps worries people in France.
MEQ: How would you change the oil and gas policy?
Haddam: We would like to make use of Algeria's oil and gas to diversify Algeria's internal economic infrastructure. The FIS would like Algeria to participate in the world economy, it does not want to keep for Algeria alone its natural resources, but wants Algeria to benefit from it for its own economic development.
MEQ: Would you expel or punish the foreign corporations that are now in Algeria and are producing oil and gas?
Haddam: No, we need foreign investors. But the FIS, being the party of the majority in Algeria, does assume responsibility for the country. Since the coup d'état of January 11, 1992, Algeria does not have a legitimate and constitutional regime. Consequently, the FIS argues that the junta is not in a position to negotiate on behalf of Algeria. Therefore, the future state of Algeria, according to international laws, will not be bound by any agreement with the military regime made after January 11, 1992. All those agreements will have to be reviewed.
The future state of Algeria will not be bound by any agreement with the military regime made after January 11, 1992.
MEQ: You are not saying that ARCO, for example, which has just signed a contract, will be thrown out?
Haddam: No. However, the agreement will be reviewed.
VIEWS OF AMERICA AND ISRAEL
MEQ: Ayatollah Khomeini called America "the Great Satan." Hasan at-Turabi says "The enemy is America."17 Sheikh 'Umar 'Abd ar-Rahman calls the United States "the enemy of Islam."18 What do you say, especially given that you have spent years in this country?
Haddam: Everywhere you have good people and bad people. I don't know, one should not generalize. America: Is it the Clinton administration? Is it the Congress? Is it the nice people of the Midwest? What America are you talking about?
MEQ: For example, in Iran you see people chanting marg bar Amrika [death to America] in the streets of Tehran all the time. They call this country shaytan-i bozorg [the great Satan].
Haddam: We disagree with this approach. I will be honest with you: we disagree totally with Iran.
We do believe in Islam; frankly, it is the best religion. I do believe that and consider it my duty to share it. How can I get people to share my Islam if I adopt a confrontational approach?
On the subject of America, we disagree totally with Iran.
MEQ: Have your views changed since you came to the United States?
Haddam: No. The FIS approach was laid out by the Association of Algerian Ulema of Ibn Badis, and by the school of thought of the Algerian scholar Malek Bennabi.19 He pointed to what he called the phenomenon of colonisabilité, arguing that a people cannot be colonized unless it has the 'ability' to be so. Thus the problem is mainly within the colonized societies. Colonization is never justified but a people is colonized out of its own weakness. This is our philosophy and we implement it in our political life.
What happened recently in Israel [i.e., a sequence bus explosions and other attacks on civilians] are terrorist acts. It does not win the sympathy of anyone. These are not Islamic acts at all. Look what happened really: the bombings caused the international community to forget what it saw on television, when those terrorist soldiers from the Zionist state broke the hands of the young. This too was a terrorist act. This bombing led people to forget about it. It is stupid and it is anti-Islam. Islam is clear that we don't have the right to kill innocent people.
MEQ: You condemn the bombings in Israel?
Haddam: Of course, we condemn the bombings of innocent civilians.
The Jews fled the persecution of the Church and went to the Islamic state in Andalusia. We have nothing against Jews; to have a lasting peace, you must promote freedom of choice in the Arab world. The best way to promote lasting peace in the Middle East is to promote freedom of choice in the region. The Jews have their own representatives; we Muslims now have authoritarian regimes. This is a big difference between them and us. You see, the PLO is nothing but a police force in Gaza, and Yasir Arafat is the chief of police.
MEQ: Will the Islamic State of Algeria recognize Israel?
Haddam: That has to be discussed in the future with Algeria's duly elected representatives.
MEQ: Is it conceivable?
Haddam: We would like peace.
MEQ: When it came to the killings of civilians in Algeria before November 1995, you said it was not being done by the Islamists but by the government.
Haddam: Lately we came to know about some of the atrocities that happened. The group of Jamal Zeitouni was responsible for it. Not the GIA as a whole.
MEQ: The majority of the atrocities in Algeria, then, you blame on the government.
Haddam: Yes. Further, The FIS calls for the institution of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate all the abuses of human rights in Algeria.
MEQ: You do not, however, blame the atrocities of the last week on the Israeli government?
Haddam: I don't know what's happened really, who benefits from it. But I condemn the act of whoever did it.
1 Amazigh is the newer, more political neutral term for Berber.
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