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LOCAL REFORMERS AND THE SEARCH FOR CHANGE: THE EMERGENCE OF SALAFISM IN BALE, ETHIOPIA

  • Terje Østebø
Abstract

Since 1991 Salafism has gained renewed strength in Ethiopia, spurred increased tensions within the Muslim community, and created concern among the Christian population. This contribution focuses on the early emergence of Salafism in the area of Bale, currently one of the movement's strongholds. It discusses its initial arrival in south-eastern Ethiopia, and pays particular attention to the developments in Bale during the 1960s. Challenging the notion that treats Islamic reform as seemingly homogeneous and as ‘foreign’ – distinctly separated from ‘local’ Islam – the contribution explores the arrival of the Salafi teaching from Saudi Arabia, and follows the process of reform embodied in an emerging group of local merchants and in graduates returning from studies in Saudi Arabia. The contribution highlights how socio-economic changes and developments of infrastructure facilitated the emergence of new groups of actors, transcending local boundaries and actively generating novel discourses about religious symbols and practices. It also demonstrates how a diversified body of situated actors was crucial for the appropriation and domestication of the Salafi message, and points to the trajectory of reform as a dialectical process of moulding that related such influences to the local context.

Depuis 1991, le salafisme connaît un regain de vitalité en Éthiopie, favorise une montée des tensions au sein de la communauté musulmane et suscite l'inquiétude au sein de la population chrétienne. Cet article examine l’émergence du salafisme dans la région de Bale, l'un des fiefs actuels du mouvement. Il évoque son arrivée dans le Sud-Est de l’Éthiopie et s'intéresse particulièrement à son évolution à Bale depuis les années 1960. Remettant en cause l'idée selon laquelle la réforme islamique serait homogène en apparence et étrangère, à savoir distincte de l'islam « local », l'article examine l'arrivée de l'enseignement salafiste d'Arabie Saoudite, et suit le processus de réforme incarné par un groupe émergent de marchands locaux et par de jeunes diplômés de retour d’études en Arabie Saoudite. L'article met en lumière la manière dont les changements socioéconomiques et les progrès d'infrastructure ont facilité l’émergence de nouveaux groupes de protagonistes, transcendant les frontières locales et générant activement des discours nouveaux sur les pratiques et les symboles religieux. Il démontre également le rôle essentiel d'un corps diversifié d'acteurs (situés) dans l'appropriation et la domestication du message salafiste, et décrit la trajectoire de la réforme comme un processus dialectique de modelage associant ces influences au contexte local.

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Africa
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