‘The Arab Spring has Yet to Begin’: An Interview with Boualem Sansal

Posted by John Rosenthal

On Sunday, October 16, the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal was awarded the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade at Frankfurt’s historic St. Paul’s Church. Sansal is the author of six novels, including the widely praised The German Mujahid (Europa Editions, 2009), the first of his novels to be translated into English. The book explores what Sansal has described as “the thin line between Nazism and Islamism” via the story of one Hans Schiller: a German SS officer who converts to Islam and becomes a hero of the Algerian war of independence.

In honoring Sansal, the German Publishers and Booksellers Association made clear that it wanted to send a sign of support to democracy movements in the Arab world. But Boualem Sansal is a wary observer of the recent Arab revolts. He is worried that current events in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere are moving along the same path they took decades ago in his native Algeria. Popular unrest in the North African country led to a period of political liberalization, followed by the electoral triumph of Islamists, then a bloody civil war, and finally the establishment of what Sansal has termed a “Nationalist-Islamist” regime.

I first spoke with Boualem Sansal in February about what has come to be known as the “Arab Spring.” (See “Democracy is the Best Solvent,” February 18, 2011.) We revisited the subject a few days before the awards ceremony in Frankfurt…

See my new interview with Boualem Sansal at weeklystandard.com here.

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