Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
12:04 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Tunisian Islamist leader says Salafis must not be demonised
Reuters
Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda founder and president Rached Ghannouchi speaks during a press conference on August 30, 2012 in Tunis. Ruling Islamist party Ennahda, accused by opposition activists of increasingly authoritarian behaviour, held a news conference.    AFP PHOTO / SALAH HABIBI
Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda founder and president Rached Ghannouchi speaks during a press conference on August 30, 2012 in Tunis. Ruling Islamist party Ennahda, accused by opposition activists of increasingly authoritarian behaviour, held a news conference. AFP PHOTO / SALAH HABIBI
A+ A-

PARIS: Demonising ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists is a mistake that will only lead to them eventually winning power, said the leader of Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party, Rachid Ghannouchi.

Secular opposition politicians in Tunisia said last week that a leaked video of a secret meeting between Ghannouchi and puritanical Salafis showed the government was not the moderate Islamist force it claimed to be.

Dismissing those claims, Ghannouchi told French daily Le Monde that Tunisia should learn from past mistakes, when cracking down on opposition forces radicalised them and emboldened some to try to overthrow the government.

Some elements within Salafi movements should be allowed to participate in Tunisia's transition toward democracy as long as they act within the law.

"One must distinguish between the fundamentalists that turn to violence and the others," Ghannouchi said in remarks published on Thursday. "If we demonise the Salafis, then in 10 or 15 years they will be in power."

Tunisia, where an uprising against secular strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali provided the first spark in last year's "Arab Spring" revolts, is now ruled by an Islamist-led government that has promised not to impose strict Muslim rules and to respect women's rights.

Liberals say policies touted by Salafis threaten human rights in a country once seen as a beacon of Arab secularism, but which is now under siege from religious hardliners who have attacked cinemas and artistic performances, arguing that they violate Islam.

In a video aired last week, Ghannouchi is heard discussing which parts of the state have fallen into the hands of Islamists and advising Salafis on where they should focus their efforts to spread their influence further.

Ghannouchi said the recording had been taken out of context and manipulated by opposition parties to influence Tunisian and Western public opinion to destroy the idea that there could be a distinction between moderate Islam and radical Islam.

"They wanted to put the two in the same bag," he said, adding the meeting was an attempt to persuade Salafis to work peacefully for change within a political framework.

Salafis also led an attack on the U.S. embassy in Tunis last month that killed four people, after an anti-Islam film made in California sparked anger across the region.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday the government was failing to crack down on Islamist violence against advocates of secularism including journalists and artists.

Ghannouchi said that those events had been significant, but not enough to transform Tunisian political life.

"Despite what is said, there is no impunity," he said. "It's a dangerous and complex phenomenon that stems from a mix of religious, political and social factors."

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Tunisia
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS