CSID 17th Annual Conference
Democratization, Authoritarianism, and Radicalization - Exploring the Connections
Thursday, April 21, 2016
999 9th Street, NW
Washington DC 20001
to View Conference Report with links to videos of the panels.
Ghannouchi, like Mandela, risks all for reconciliation and democracy By David Hearst | Middle East Eye
Rached Ghannouchi is trying to force fundamental change in post-revolutionary Tunisian politics to protect it from surrounding chaos.
The Emiratis, sources within Nidaa Tounes told Middle East Eye, offered to give Tunisia between $5bn-$10bn if Essebsi ditched his power-sharing agreement with Ennahda. He refused.
Ghannouchi said of him: "I have enough confidence in our president. I have confidence in his patriotism and he is elected by the Tunisian people. His authority does not depend on the support of a foreign power."
Ghannouchi's emphasis on reconciliation comes straight out of Nelson Mandela's playbook in South Africa. But the Tunisian leader grounds his calculations in hard politics, too, which is why he believes he can keep Essebsi on the straight and narrow.
For the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, he had this warning: "We advise all Islamists in the region to be more open and to work with others and to look for a consensus with others, because without national unity, without national resistance against dictatorship, freedom cannot be achieved. There needs to be a genuine reconciliation between Islamists and secularists, between Muslim and non-Muslim. Dictatorship feeds off confrontation between all parties."
In Tunisia, a move toward 'Muslim democracy'
| The Christian Century
Tunisia's Ennahda movement, the most successful Islamist party to emerge from the Arab Spring revolts early in this decade, has left political Islam and declared that its members will operate in the country as "
A recent party congress in Hammamet voted almost unanimously to drop Ennahda's traditional religious work and participate in Tunisian politics as a regular political party.
Ebrahim Moosa, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame, spent time with Ghannouchi while he was in exile. He was not surprised that Ghannouchi, when he returned to Tunisia, learned from what happened in Turkey and Egypt.
"The Islamist groups in Tunisia have shown that they can think differently," Moosa said. "There has been a theological tradition in North Africa,
maslaha, to give priority of what is in the best interest of the community and the public."
This allows Ennahda some flexibility in its leadership, Moosa said.
"In Tunisia you have Shari'a meeting John Dewey," he said, referring to the U.S. social reformer, who was a proponent of pragmatism. "It's a different kind of leadership."
"We are leaving political Islam to enter into Muslim democracy," Ghannouchi told Le Monde, avoiding the word
. "Ennahda is a democratic and civil political party based on Muslim and modern civilizational values." -Religion News Service; the
By Ivesa Lubben |
The latest Ennahda party conference, held in the Tunisian town of Hammamet, revealed in both its symbolism and the new parlance used by the party a renunciation of political Islam in favour of Muslim democracy.
At the opening event at the Olympic Hall in Rades, broadcast live on Tunisian television, the national anthem was sung and an oversized Tunisian flag symbolically unfurled, Ennahda thus presenting itself to the more than 10,000 followers and guests attending as a national force in the Maghreb country.
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"Tunisia is more important than Ennahda," declared party leader Rachid Ghannouchi in his opening speech, honoring the martyrs in the police and armed forces who had lost their lives in the fight against terrorism and also paying tribute to the martyrs of the revolution and the struggle against the dictatorship of Ben Ali.
The ability to overcome such conflicts can be attributed to the influence of Rachid al-Ghannouchi as an integration figure, but also to the party's Islamic identity as a common reference point. Whether Ennahda will in future still be able to integrate the different currents that came to the fore at the conference, or whether it will end up splitting up into separate organisations - like many other Tunisian parties before it - remains to be seen.
From Political Islam to Muslim Democracy
Tunisia's Ennahda Changes Course
As if to demonstrate what he meant, he dedicated the second half of his speech at the congress to outlining a series of reforms aimed at combating corruption, spurring economic growth, reducing unemployment, and improving conditions for the country's youth-all goals that Tunisians have consistently ranked as the nation's highest priorities
Ennahda's defeat at the polls in 2014 prompted what turned out to be nearly two years of internal discussion regarding the future direction of the party. The repeated postponement of the party congress reportedly stemmed from the leadership's difficulties in convincing the base that Ennahda should be a political party and leave overtly religious activities to a separate, if related, body. In the end, although delegates to the Congress rejected the term
(separation), they approved a
(specialization) between the movement's religious and political activities.
Thus, for example, Ennahda leaders can no longer preach in mosques or hold leadership positions in religious associations. As Ghannouchi explained in
"we need to specify the difference between political and religious activity. The arena of political activity is not within the mosque."
. With local elections scheduled for March 2017 and parliamentary elections to follow in 2019, Ennahda knows it needs to expand its base of support if it is to rebound from the 2014 defeat. Whatever else may be driving the movement's current transformation, focusing on the "daily problems" of the electorate makes good political sense.
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How big were the changes Tunisia's Ennahda party just made at its national congress?
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