The Emergence of Scouts in Algeria:
Scouts emerged in Algeria after WWII. It was the French who first initiated the movement just for the purpose of teaching discipline to their children. Although some Algerians – impressed by the system, discipline and uniform- joined it, it remained a copy of the French Scouts. But the centennial celebration of the occupation in which the scouts took part pushed the Algerians to disengage from it and form a scout association of their own.
The AMS dates back to the 1930’s, when the first scout troop was founded under the name of Ibn Khaldun troop in Meliana by Sadek el-Ghoul. Shortly after another one was founded in Algiers under the name of El-Fallah troop by Muhamed Bouras in 1935. It gained official recognition in June, 1936. Then scout troops expanded to other cities of the country: El-Raja’a and El-Sabah troops in Constantine in 1936, El-Fallah troop in Mustaghanem in 1936, El-Ikbal troop in Blida in 1936, El-Kotb troop in Algiers in 1937, El-Hayet troop in Setif in 1938, El-Hilal troop in Tizi Ouzou in 1938, El-Raja’a troop in Batna in 1938 and El-Noujoum troop in Guelema in 1938.
Faced with the amazingly increasing numbers of the scouts, Muhamed Bouras thought about founding the Algerian Muslim Scouts University, which received the consent of the government of the popular front. The founding conference was held in El-Harrach under the honorary leadership of Sheik Abdul Hamid Ben Badis under the slogan of: “Islam is our religion, Arabic is our language, Algeria is our country”.
The AMS’s Role in the National Movement
AMS grew larger and larger and scout troops could be found everywhere around the country. It gained a good reputation among the Algerian people especially after having had the benediction of the leaders of the Algerian Muslim Scholars Assembly who lead scout gatherings in different cities around Algeria: Ibn Badis in Constantine, el-Bachir el-Ibrahimi in Telemcen and el-Tyeb el-Okbi in Algiers. The AMS became a real school of nationalistic thought teaching its adherents the basics of the Arabic and Islam and fueling their desire for freedom through scout camping, singing nationalistic songs and performing plays about the Algerians’ precarious living conditions. This strong presence of the AMS was not welcome by the colonial authorities which did their best to hinder the activity of the scouts, the best demonstration of this being Muhamed Bouras who was charged wrongly of spying for the Nazi regime and was sentenced to death on May 27,1941. Yet the AMS never gave up, and it continued its nationalistic duties that can be summed up as follows:
– Distributing flyers for the national parties such as el-Shaa’b and Ahbab el-Bayan.
– Holding training sessions for the scouts at the Mudjahidin’s.
– Participating in demonstrations particularly those of May 8, 1945 in which the martyr scout Bouzid Shaa’al, the flag porter, was the first victim along with tens of thousands of others.
– Offering AMS’s premises as shelters for the nationalists and the people wanted by the French government.
MSA Role in the Liberation War
Soon, the AMS became an important resource for the liberation war supplying it with huge numbers of young men and women who were ready to take armed action. In fact when the war broke out the AMS dissolved itself and had its members join the National Liberation Front. (FLN), thus new blood was injected into the National Liberation Army (ALN), the military wing of the FLN. Scoutmasters helped train the ALN soldiers, worked as medics, and occupied high ranks in the Algerian military movement against the French army.
On top of that, the AMS did not restrict its activity to the national territory, it formed new troops in Morocco and Tunisia that worked arduously for the Algerian cause and participated in many Scout meetings around the world in Tunisia, Morocco, Germany and China. As a conclusion, the AMS was an invaluable asset to the Liberation War.
This piece is taken from the website of the Algerian Muslim Scouts.
See on-line at: http://www.scouts-dz.org/en/scouts.php