There were indignant reactions on social media on Wednesday after Abdelfatah Hamadache Ziraoui called for Daoud to be executed in public, claiming that he is “waging war against Allah, the Koran and the sacred values of Islam”.
Ziraoui leads a Salafist group, the Islamic Awakening Front, which is not officially recognised and is known for its campaigns against the sale of alcohol and people wearing swimming costumes on beaches.
Daoud was on the shortlist for this year’s prestigious Goncourt literary prize for Meursault, contre-enquête, a variation on the story of Albert Camus’s l’Etranger (The Stranger) from an Algerian perspective.
Since then he has been fêted in France and at home, leading to an appearance on popular chat show On n’est pas couché during which he said that “we in what’s called the Arab world” have to “resolve the question of God” in order to progress and “share the world”.
“On the basis of a single book a man becomes a fanatic, on the basis of several he becomes a lot freer,” he said.
Daoud, who writes a column for the Quotidien d’Oran newspaper, flirted with Islamism when he was younger and during his TV appearance said that he is still religious.
Ziraoui’s call has angered many Algerians, many recalling the violence of the 1990s when armed Islamists fought the Algerian army and a fatwa declared “those who fight us with the pen must die by the sword”.
An online petition has called for legal action to be taken against Ziraoui and the opposition movement Barakat (Enough!) slammed an “odious and criminal” statement.
On his Facebook page Daoud commented that the fatwa showed where “these people’s feeling of impunity leads”.