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Title:Identity, alterity and ambiguity in a Nigerien community: Competing definitions of 'true' Islam
Author:Masquelier, AdelineISNI
Book title:Postcolonial identities in Africa
Editors:Werbner, Richard P.
Ranger, Terence
City of publisher:London
Publisher:Zed Books
Geographic term:Niger
Islamic movements
Abstract:This chapter describes the tense relationship between fundamentalist and mainstream Muslims as the author encountered them in Dogondoutchi, Niger, during the summer of 1994. The last few years have seen sweeping changes in the way some Muslims, who define themselves as ''yan izala', interpret the Koran and practise their religion. Using sermons and prayer sessions as tools of propaganda and mobilization, and constantly referring to the Koran to justify their roles as reformers of the faith, these fundamentalists are gaining a growing number of adherents. The author focuses on the mutual antagonism that colours the relation between the two factions and on the stories through which liberals construct fundamentalists as the prototypical Other. It is the fundamentalists' clever use of ambiguity and doubt that gives their movement such powerful momentum. At the same time, the very fact that they define their religious activism as an alternative to the orthodoxy is what enables their opponents to displace them as animalized alter egos who do not deserve even to come into contact with the sacred Koran. Bibliogr., notes.