Bassirou Diomaye Faye, symbol of the evolution of Senegalese Islam?

Bassirou Diomaye Faye, symbol of the evolution of Senegalese Islam?

Since his election on March 24, the new president of Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, attracted criticism from certain Sufi religious leaders. “The arrival of the Salafists in power… had thus denounced Serigne Modou Bousso Dieng, religious leader of the powerful brotherhood of Mourides, who criticized: “ Bassirou Diomaye Faye speaks and ignores religious people in his speech “. .

Earlier, other voices were raised to criticize the new president's apparent lack of consideration for the Sufi religious brotherhoods, very influential in this country which is 95% Muslim. “ He did not even deign to greet religious leaders during the electoral campaign », was indignant Abdou Lahad Seck, member of the same brotherhood, which represents 31% of Senegalese Muslims.

The fact that the new president did not seek the support of the brotherhoods may have in fact marked a step in a religious landscape marked by their historical weight in the political life of the country. “Traditionally, it is very difficult to be president of Senegal without the blessing of these brotherhoods,” comments Abdoulaye Sounaye, researcher specializing in relations between Islam, State and society in West Africa. “But in the case of Bassirou Diomaye Faye, this was done without them. »

This attitude contrasts, for example, with that of former president Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), who knelt before the Caliph General of the Mourides in 2000, the day after his election. “Today, these critical reactions from the brotherhoods may reflect a certain loss of their influence with the governing bodies”analyzes Abdoulaye Sounaye.

A sign of his distance from the brotherhoods, Bassirou Diomaye Faye had already been described as “ salafi » by his detractors. “Bassirou Diomaye Faye is a true Salafist”had for example launched in the hemicycle the deputy of the presidential majority, Cheikh Seck, in November 2023. For the researcher Abdoulaye Sounaye, Bassirou Diomaye Faye in fact embodies the advent to power of a form of quietist Salafism, which translates an endogenization of this current in Senegal.

An Islam freed from traditional structures

“This religious trend asserts itself through a more rational individualization of religion, which tries to produce a certain modernity that traditional Sufi families did not allow,” he explains. Thus, unlike the Sufi model of submission to the figure of the marabout, this reformist Islam advocates a relationship with God without intermediary, freed from traditional structures.

These options have a certain appeal among young people critical of brotherhoods. “Many young people are angry with these large Sufi families who supported regimes considered corrupt. On the contrary, they expect from religious authority ethics in governance and public affairs., continues the researcher. Presented as an alternative, this form of Salafism claims to combine “a rigor of behavior with ethical rigor in the management of public affairs. »

However, the divide between Sufi brotherhoods and reformist Islam is not so clear in Senegal. “There is no significant competition or tension like in Nigeria,” points out Vincent Foucher, researcher specializing in Senegal. “There are rather reciprocal influences. » This is demonstrated in particular by the success achieved by the candidate of Ousmane Sonko's party in the Touba region, stronghold of the Mouride brotherhood.

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