NAHNAH, Mahfoud

Mahfoud Nahnah was born on 27 January 1942 in Blida (Algeria) to a poor muslim family. After the Algerian independence in 1962, he became professor of Arabic at Algiers University where he had previously studied Arabic literature. At that time he was closely connected to Egyptian professors -often members of the Muslim Brotherhood – who were responsible for the arabisation and islamisation of Algeria. Under their influence Nahnah became convinced of the necessity to etablish a link between Arabism and Islam in Algeria.

In 1976, he was condemned for civil disobedience to 15 years in prison for having destroyed electric posts. He was released after 5 years by presidential pardon and began a political carreer. The democratic opening which followed the riots of 1988 forced the Islamic movement to organise itself but Seikh Nahnah refused to join the FIS and created his own political party, called Hamas, of which he became chairman.

The ajournment of the second round of the legislative elections in 1991 gave Mahfoud Nahnah the opportunity to present himself as the representative of a moderate and reform oriented Islam.

In the presidential elections of November 1995, Nahnah won 25.38% of the votes and came thereby in second position after General Zeroual. He dit not present himself at the legislative elections of 1997 and has therefore been without political mandate since then.

His visits to Western countries made him however an unofficial spokesman for the Algerian government in the field of foreign policy.

On 21 February 1999, Nahnah announced that he would run for President of the Republic. His party had already designated him two months before but he had asked for a period of reflexion. His candidacy was nevertheless rejected by the Constitutional Council on 10 March on the ground that he could not show the certificate of his participation in the war of independence (1954-1962) as stipulated in the Constitution for the candidates for the presidency born before July 1942 (art.73).

Sheikh Nahnah is a member of the Orientation Council of the « European Institute of Human Sciences » based in Château-Chinon (France). It is a training centre for imams founded by the Union of Islamic Organisations of France.

After suffering from a leukemia, he died on June 19th, 2003. Then, Bouguerra Soltani became the leader of MSP.