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Last updated at 17:01 BST, Friday, 27 April 2012

Voting for God

Summary

27 April 2012

In most countries voting is a human right to be cherished and in a few countries it's even compulsory. But is it ever your religious duty? According to Muslim cleric Sheikh Chemseddine Bouroubi it is.

Reporter:

Leana Hosea

Algerian voters

Has voting become one of the religious duties in Algeria?

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Report

"If you do not vote in the upcoming elections God will punish you." That's what Algerians have been told by a prominent Muslim cleric, Sheikh Chemseddine Bouroubi.

Parliamentary elections are being held in May and it's believed many Algerians are going to abstain from a vote they view as irrelevant. The authorities are so concerned about a low turnout that the state phone operator has been sending out text messages urging people to cast their ballot.

Sheikh Bouroubi said Algerians should vote to maintain stability and prevent foreigners from fomenting revolution. Conditions in Algeria are similar to that in other Arab countries when it comes to widespread poverty, corruption and high youth unemployment and protests calling for democratic change did take place last year, but they did not turn into a full-scale uprising.

This vote is being seen as a test of the reforms promised by the government of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to stem further discontent. He has approved over twenty new political parties and says the country is moving gradually towards democracy.

But Parliament is widely considered a rubber stamp body. Power is concentrated in the president, who has ruled since 1999 and the military has a key role in a country which was until last year under emergency law.

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Vocabulary

a prominent

an important and well-known

abstain from

not take part in

irrelevant

not important or having no effect

turnout

number of voters

urging

trying to persuade or convince

cast their ballot

vote

fomenting

encouraging

full-scale

huge or widespread

stem

stop

rubber stamp body

group that approves programs/policies automatically or without proper consideration