Sunday, May 29, 2011

TUNISIA - How far will the Islamists?

Nahda (Renaissance) party is probably the most influential of the new political scene in Tunisia. Prohibited under Ben Ali, training has been the target of severe repression in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The revolution has challenged the laws in force, notwithstanding section 8 of the Constitution (to be revised), which prohibits political parties based on religion, Ennahda was officially legalized on 1 March by government decree Interim.

Between 1992 and 2011, the Islamist party was almost absent from the political landscape of Tunisia. He has also played no role in the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD), which had crushed any serious opposition. But in a country where the population is young and underemployed, the dissolution of the RCD has left a real political vacuum.

Implement sharia If the context may seem ideal for Ennahda, many Tunisians show great caution however against him. Young people who made the revolution have known nothing but dictatorship of Ben Ali and not influenced by the ideas of al-Nahda. As for the middle class of Tunisia, she is wary of the Islamist movement, which has been accused of extremism and terrorism, especially in the wake of unrest in early 1990.

Activists Ennahda had then attacked an office of the RCD located in a neighborhood of Tunis and killed a person. They had also committed assault with acid. The population has not forgotten those incidents. Ennahda entered the post-Ben Ali with a flexible political discourse. The Islamic party seems to be trying to turn the page and show the people of Tunisia's commitment to democracy, human rights, non-violence and the Personal Status Code, which prohibits polygamy and introduces the equality between the sexes.

On 6 February, the party's founder, Rached Ghannouchi said that the Personal Status Code was inspired by sharia (Islamic law), that polygamy was illegal, there was no question of returning , that wearing the hijab was a personal matter and that the stoning and amputations were now outdated practices.

However, there is evidence to suggest that the position of al-Nahda is not as clear as it seems. These include what the spokesman of the movement, Hamadi Jebali, who in an interview Feb. 17, initially denied having intended to apply the Sharia and then reaffirm the importance it has for party.

Ennahda also criticized the government formed on February 27 by Beji Caid Essebsi in response to protests from demonstrators. Rached Ghannouchi was particularly harsh on Mr. Essebsi, who held several important positions under Ben Ali. He said the new prime minister, aged 84, was straight out of the archives and dusted off for the occasion.

Mr. Essebsi replied that he, too, at age 70, he came from the archives, but had simply been placed in another box. However, the government accepted the demand of the Islamist movement to participate in the work of the highest levels of achievement of the revolution, political reform and democratic transition, bringing together various representatives of civil society organizations and parties policies.

But the movement Rached Ghannouchi was weakened by internal divisions and competition from other Islamists. Such disputes have erupted when the new generation of al-Nahda was excluded from the party's executive office Abdelfattah Mourou, one of its founding members. Now, he openly criticized Ennahda Mourou and plans to build an independent party.

The official composition of the Executive Board of the Islamist movement has also undergone significant changes, including the appointment of his spokesman, Hamadi Jebali, as Secretary General. Meanwhile, among some 50 political parties that have recently been legalized, many Islamists are likely to snack and a portion of the electorate traditional Ennahda.

The party is particularly faced with the unexpected emergence of a Salafi stream of increasingly visible and active youth, particularly the Hizb al-Tahrir, which has not been legalized, officers who reported for aims to create an Islamic caliphate and abolish political parties. The rise of Salafism Ennahda place in a delicate situation.

Indeed, it could force its leaders to take a position in relation to incidents in recent months, which saw the Salafists manifest chanting antisemitic slogans and attacked shops and sectarian alcohol and women who were not wearing the veil. The election issue of the relationship between religion and state remains a major unresolved problems.

Ennahda may also need to clarify its position on this. While in the past, training has categorically rejected the separation of religion and state, it now looks like the equivalent of the Tunisian ruling Justice and Development Turkish Party (AKP), which acts in a state constitutionally layman.

The identity of Tunisia and Article I of the Constitution, stipulating that the religion of Tunisia is Islam, will be at the heart of the campaign for parliamentary elections of 24 July. From that date we will have a clearer idea of the overall political and ideological orientation of the Second Republic.

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