Seminar: Containing and Accommodating Salafism: Lessons from the Republic of Niger

Mosk in NigerThis seminar on Thursday 12 December will review the relationship between the Nigerien state, established Suffi Islam and the new orthodox Sunni groups in the Republic of Niger. In line with many West African nations, Niger’s democratization process in the early 1990s led to the spread of Orthodox Sunni Islam (Salafism). However, in contrast to neighbouring countries, Niger has not experienced large-scale Islamic violence nor have the various governments given in to Islamic demands to abandon the secular state. Salafism remained ‘quietist’ and has largely focused on missionary and educational activities. This is all the more surprising since Niger’s most prominent Salafist group – the Izala Movement – arrived from Nigeria where Salafism has used violence against fellow Muslims and the Nigerian central government. The seminar will attempt to identify the causes that have led to the rise of quietist Salafism. It will be argued that the institutional heritage of the autocratic period (1974-1991), and in particular the Islamic Association of Niger, played a major role in containing violent Salafism. Niger’s success in maintaining peaceful religious relations could potentially hold important lessons for its volatile neighbours.


Sebastian ElischerSebastian Elischer is assistant professor of comparative politics and a research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies/Institute of African Affairs. He has studied at the University of Wales, the Free University of Berlin, George Washington University in Washington and Jacobs University Bremen. His monograph entitled Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation in Africa has recently been published by Cambridge University Press and his articles have appeared in Democratization, Foreign Affairs and Africa Spectrum.

Date, time and location

12 December 2013
15.30 - 17.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5A29 (5th floor)