Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TUNISIA - The radical Islamists on the frontline

The imams, like all professions that of Tunisia, were under the control of despotic power of Ben Ali. Especially since, in the 1970s, the mosque was the site of a protest and political mobilization. Admittedly there was the body of imams, as elsewhere, admirers of unscrupulous and amoral. There are even those who in their sermons Friday, January 14, two or three hours of the flight of Ben Ali, Tunisia has called the revolution of fitna (discord) and asserted that the religious duty involved a total obedience to the President and Sakher El-Materi [businessman, son of the deposed president, a strong presence in politics] is a benefactor of the country.

These people have no place in the spiritual guidance of Muslims. But it gives no right to put the politicized groups grapple on places of worship. The Interior Ministry responded late to the politicization of preaching which tends to take hostage the faithful. He merely a statement that recalls the essential role of mosques as places of prayer and meditation, but this had no effect on this insidious takeover.

We have no precise figures, but it appears that the approximately 2,000 mosques in the country, several hundred were taken over by extremists - Salafist groups, members of Hezb Ettahrir (a division in the Brotherhood movement Muslim dating back to 1953, and which the Interior Ministry has denied a visa legal) and the fringes of the most radicalized supporters of al-Nahda [Islamist party founded by Rached Ghannouchi in 1981 under the name Movement of the Islamic trend (MTI)].

The faithful were still able to resist in some cases, especially when local imams had sufficient credit and authority. The war of mosques took place before our eyes. But it is a war unbalanced because, in front of the infantry of fundamentalism, there are only citizens poorly organized and strongly feel guilty.

For their part, the preachers of Ennahda play a more subtle game. They are against the politicization of mosques, but they are also against the politicization of religion. This is reflected in practice by political speeches, which often are not explicit propaganda of al-Nahda, while defending the theological vision, political and social fit for the party.

It's a con game, because in this case, no need to say "vote for us." It would even be against-productive. The nahdaouis want to win the battle of ideas in mosques. The political fallout will eventually follow. We are also witnessing a battle of leaders in mosques interposed. Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou, founding member of al-Nahda and entered in a certain division since 1991, toured the mosques in Tunisia.

He gives lessons daily between the two prayers of the Maghreb [sunset] and isha [prayer of nightfall]. Sheikh said any cons partisan manipulation of the mosques, but his sermons are they disconnected from any political strategy? Hezb Ettahrir, meanwhile, chose a different strategy: to make political propaganda at the entrance of mosques and occupy the square daily from the Ministry of the Interior by collective prayers in the main avenue of the capital.

The Tunisian intellectual Raja Ben Slama noted this troubling paradox: "The Islamists are playing politics in mosques and pray in the street! This hijacking of public space is intolerable. In addition to power of speech in hundreds of mosques, and all this against a state weakened by the revolution of January 14 and which is struggling to impose order, however, indispensable to any republican democracy.

This undeclared war fails to raise a lot of media attention. The state let them. Religious elites, who have so poisoned by the virtues of moderate Islam Tunisia are silenced because of their complicity and their compromise with the old regime. Making the mosques to God, and that alone is a democratic requirement.

Losing this war is to renounce our freedom and our dreams of emancipation. Tunisia will be played tomorrow, too, in the mosques.

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