Algiers, April 20: At least two Islamist parties in Algeria are campaigning ‘faceless’ for their female candidates. The political fronts have cited rulings of Shariah to validate their act. In posters and flyers used for campaigning, the slot where the candidate’s photo should be published is kept empty. State election monitoring officials have red flagged the move, warning the ultra-conservative party of consequences, if it remains rigid on its stand.Abdul Wahab Derbal, the chief of election surveillance body, warned the candidates to “either show their images or be barred from contesting the elections slated on May 4”. The ruling issued by Derbal did not go down well with the far-right parties, who have called it an infringement of their religious right.
Moussa Touati, the president of conservative Algerian National Front (FNA), has warned polling officials against ‘disrespecting the religious tradition of the masses’. While addressing the press, he stated that the female candidates of FNA would not campaign as “fashion models”. Similar views were reiterated by Naima Salhi, quite arguable the tallest female leader of Algeria.
In Adrar legislative segment, at least two women out of the total candidates contesting have decided not to use their photographs in any of the propaganda materials. One of them has also decided not share her family details.
According to reports, the cases of female candidates not using their photos on banners, flyers and posters have been recorded more in rural Algeria, where religious conservatism is more prevalent.
Collective for Rights and Dignity of Algerian Women has condemned the faceless campaign initiated by ultra-conservative parties. “How will the candidates reach out to the electorate without being visible?” it said in its press statement.
As per the rule laid down in Algerian electoral law, a minimum of 15 per cent of the candidates fielded by any political party should be female. The rule was intended to boost the participation of female population in the electoral process.