ReportageThe “reformism” of the Salafist or Wahhabi sects is shaking up Senegalese Islam, dominated by the large Sufi brotherhoods, considered tolerant. A competition which puts under tension the country, threatened at its borders by the jihadist groups.
Lying on a mat in the shade of a mango tree in his orchard, Imam Alioune Badara Ndao speaks with gentle firmness in an irreproachable language of Molière. Without acrimony or apparent anger. No ruminating rancor in his goatee as white as his boubou, towards the journalist who came from Paris to meet him at his home, in Kaolack, his stronghold located 200 kilometers south-east of Dakar.
The imam is nevertheless convinced that the French services engaged in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel are at the origin of the dirty image that has stuck to his skin since October 2015. That, despite his acquittal by the Senegalese courts in July 2018 , of a Salafist imam accused of having led a jihadist network.
According to these allegations, he recruited fighters for the Nigerian sect Boko Haram and tried to establish a terrorist cell in Senegal. Charges all the heavier since, at the gates of the Sahel, this country is an exception: democratically stable, free of coup d’etat since its independence in 1960, spared until now by assaults and terrorist attacks. suicides carried out in the name of religious extremism which is bloodying the region.
A particularism which explains the attention of Dakar and its allies each time the “Senegalese Islamic rampart” – built on the foundations of the four major Muslim brotherhoods of Sufi obedience (Qadiriya, Tidjaniya, Mouridiya, Layèniya) which still largely dominate the religious landscape – threatens to crumble, nibbled on its flanks by the Salafist or Wahhabi sects, known as “reformists”.
“Even today, I don’t understand why I was arrested, confides the imam. I am undoubtedly criticized for my Friday sermons, for saying that all our problems, to us Muslims in Senegal and elsewhere, arise from the imposition of Western policy in our countries and the activity of the Franks. – masons. “
In the middle of the hens, come and go very young children enrolled in his dahra. A Koranic school similar to dozens of others in the country, which he says “Are much better than public education designed by foreigners”. “Look around you!, he exclaims, do you see a jihadist training camp? “
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Senegal, torn between enemy brothers in Islam