A veiled woman walks in central Algiers, Wednesday Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Ouahab Hebbat)
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Mosques are going up, women are covering up, and shops selling alcoholic beverages are shutting down in a changing Algeria where, slowly but surely, Muslim fundamentalists are gaining ground. The North African country won its civil war with extremists who brought Algeria to its knees in the name of Islam during the 1990s. Algerians favoring the trend see it as a benediction, while critics worry that the rise of Salafism, a form of Islam that interprets the Quran literally, may seep deeper into social mores and diminish the chances for a modern Algeria that values freedom of choice.Bahmed, who is close to the moderate Islamist party Movement for a Peaceful Society, described the growing number of women in Islamic dress as a "benediction".Algeria's North African neighbors also have been grappling with a new assertiveness from those seeking a greater role for Islam in society, and have folded Islamist parties into their power structures. In today's Algeria, the vestiges of 130 years of French colonial rule are falling away, with ardent help from Salafists.With its soaring 267-meter-high minaret, the mosque is being portrayed as a testament to a tolerant Islam.
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