Revolutionary movements, like Salafi-jihadis, often capture public attention. However, as scholars of Salafism have long argued, quietist Salafis are the largest sub-group within, and in many ways the true heart of, Salafism in the southern Mediterranean and beyond. This article has two aims. First, it provides scholarship on Salafi groups in Libya and Algeria not tied to jihadi milieus.
Second, it contributes new understandings of Salafi developments in two less-studied countries, namely Algeria and Libya. Via a comparative study of one prominent type of quietist Salafism, known as Madkhalism, in the post-2011 contexts of political transition and civil war (Libya) and limited political liberalization (Algeria), we show that whilst some Libyan Madkhalis partially constrained their rejection of taking up arms or of alliances with ideological competitors, their Algerian counterparts did not. We build on existing scholarship by explaining this divergence at the level of discrete political opportunity structures, both since and prior to the events of 2011, together with intra-Salafi framing competition and core quietist ideological convictions.
Overall, we argue that Madkhalism has partially seen a bottom-up-driven shift over the last years that is likely to continue, further reshape the movement, and impact the countries in which its acolytes are embedded.