Algeria Islamists cause upset with "faceless" election posters

Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:32pm GMT

* Ordered to restore faces or be barred from May 4 election

* Algeria haunted by memories of 1990s war with Islamists

By Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS, April 19 (Reuters) - Two Islamist opposition parties in Algeria have posted faceless portraits of female candidates for May's legislative election, upsetting state authorities which have ordered them to show the faces or be barred from the ballot.

The dispute reflects fear among many Algerians of any revival of political Islam in a country that balances religious conservatism with searing memories of its 1990s war against armed Islamist groups that killed 200,000 people.

The ultra-conservative Salafi strain of Islam, with its roots in Saudi Arabia, preaches religious purity and argues that their faith bans the faces of women being portrayed in public.

Election monitoring officials told Islamist opposition parties on Tuesday they had 48 hours to display the female candidates' visages on campaign posters or their lists would be disqualified from the May 4 ballot.

"They must show their faces," Abdelwahab Derbal, the president of the body in charge of surveillance of the elections, told reporters on Tuesday.

Leaders of several Islamist parties criticised Derbal's decision, saying it was neither fair nor constitutional.   Continued...

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