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Ed Webb

How big were the changes Tunisia's Ennahda party just made at its national congress? - ... - 0 views

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    As Ennahda seeks to reboot its brand, are the changes as drastic as some have depicted?
Ed Webb

Mass Arrests Signal Policy Change Towards Religious Extremists - Tunisia Live : Tunisia... - 1 views

  • The Ministry of Interior then outlawed Ansar al-Sharia yesterday and banned all its activities. The arrests and the ban of Ansar al-Sharia  represent a major policy shift for the coalition government led by the Islamist Ennahda party. This administration had been seen by critics as too lenient on extremist religious groups involved in a number of violent incidents since the January 2011 revolution.
Ed Webb

The myth of the Islamist winter - www.newstatesman.com - Readability - 0 views

  • In Tunisia, as in Egypt, the Islamists who came to power through the ballot box are seeing their popularity erode and are tempted to hold on to power by recourse to authoritarian measures. But they have to deal with the legacy of the Arab spring. They face a new political culture: now, one where people who disagree with the government take to the streets; where there is no reverence for established power and the army and the police no longer inspire fear.
  • consider the precise nature of this authoritarian turn because it bears little resemblance to the “Islamic revolution” often associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and al-Nahda, the Renaissance Party, in Tunisia. It is, on the contrary, a conservative and paradoxically pro-western “counter-revolution”
  • The electoral and social base of the Egyptian regime is not revolutionary. Instead of trying to reach a compromise with the principal actors of the Arab spring, Morsi is attempting to get all the supporters of the new order on his side. The coalition he is building is based on business, the army, the Salafists and those elements of the “people” that are supposedly tired of anarchy
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  • economic model is neoliberal
  • State control of religion would in fact go beyond institutions and extend to religious orthodoxy, leading to limitations being placed on Sufi practices and theological discussions. Even if the Muslim Brothers succeed in the first part of the operation – nationalising faith institutions – the price they will have to pay for it will be high, because the imams won’t appreciate being turned into civil servants. They also run the risk of destroying the religious dynamic of their movement: if the state controls religion, what use is a religious “brotherhood”? And if religion is identified with the state, there is a grave risk that the unpopularity of the government will affect faith institutions in turn, as has happened in Iran
  • Time is against Morsi, because the economic measures that he wants to introduce will make the government increasingly unpopular. And, on the other hand, continued popular protest will require him to call on the army, which will support him, but at a price – the political and economic autonomy that the military is asking for runs counter to the Brotherhood’s programme of economic liberalisation
  • the other battleground for the Muslim Brotherhood is control of the religious sphere. Like al- Nahda in Tunisia, it has discovered that this is considerably more diverse than it had thought. Moreover, figures who had previously been relatively docile where the state was concerned, such as Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, have reasserted the autonomy that they were granted by the Arab spring. This means that the only way for the government to wrest back control of the religious sphere is to place it under the authority of the state (specifically, to submit the mosques to the diktat of the ministry of religious affairs)
  • Morsi has accepted the outlook of the IMF, not because he has been forced to do so, but because it is an approach he shares. This will bring further privatisation and competition. And because the price paid by swaths of the population will be severe, the government will need a functioning apparatus of repression and to break the trade unions. It will also have to gain the acquiescence of the army, in exchange for immunity and the right to regulate its own affairs, particularly in the economic sphere
  • a politics more redolent of Pinochet in Chile than of Khomeini in Iran
  • Religion is becoming just one instrument of control among others – rather than a social, economic and ideological alternative. This is, in short, the failure of political Islam
  • Al- Nahda is neither as strong nor as deeply rooted as the Muslim Brotherhood. The movement is more diverse, with a branch that is, if not more liberal, then at least more realistic. And because of their commitment to violence, the Tunisian Salafists are not credible allies
  • Al-Nahda is coming into conflict with the unions, either for the same reasons as in Egypt (a fascination with the free market) or for reasons more specific to Tunisia (it wants allies on its left but cannot bear to compete with a truly popular movement of grass-roots activists)
  • As in Egypt, al-Nahda proposes to use its own ministry of religious affairs to control the religious sphere, although this statism could rebound against the movement
  • if there were a credible and unified opposition, it could beat al-Nahda in the elections. Consequently, Tunisia’s chances of staying democratic are better than Egypt’s
  • The Islamists are succeeding neither in delivering the goods in economic and social terms nor in giving the impression that they are architects of an authentic social project that goes beyond the stamping of “Islamic markers” on a society over which they have increasingly little control
  • To get through the period of austerity and the economic difficulties that go with it, they should have done more to secure a “historic compromise” with the liberals. The alternative to such an alliance is not “Islamic revolution”, however. What is taking shape instead is a coalition that is con - servative in politics and morals but neoliberal in economics, and thus open to the west
Ed Webb

Salafist Attacks in Egypt Raise Spectre of Sectarian Violence - Al-Monitor: the Pulse o... - 0 views

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    Few good directions from here.
Ed Webb

Tunisia democratic activists fear a tilt toward militant Islam - latimes.com - 0 views

  • The fervor echoes the passion of Salafis emerging in Egypt and other nations. But it appears more volatile in Tunisia, even though the population of ultraconservatives is significantly smaller.
    • Ed Webb
       
      Evidence? Given that this article is riddled with sensationalist & Orientalist observations, I think we need to be cautious about the judgment being expressed here.
  • The unresolved struggle between fundamentalist and moderate Islamists is the center of a larger debate with liberals and secularists over religion's influence on public life. It has been agitated by newly free societies that feel both the tug of the traditional and the allure of the contemporary.
  • "Modern Islamists aren't in a hurry to change society, but the Salafis want to do it as quickly as possible. They're focused on Tunisia because of our advanced civil and women's rights. They want to win here to show the rest of the region."
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  • Despite their disarray and infighting, liberals and secularists are strong in Tunis;
  • "We are Muslims. We trust only God," said Abdel Omri, a husky man with a full beard and skullcap shopping for sandals on the sidewalk. "We only use the government to get our ID cards. It has no bearing on our lives. We don't believe in man's democracy. God gave us democracy in the Koran. God accepts and God forbids. That is all."
  • "It will be very dangerous if we try to deny the Salafis a political say," said Abdel Cherif, a ranking Nahda member. "Our goal is to make them forget about weapons and conflict. We want them to participate in political life."
Ed Webb

Equality of the Sexes Contested on National Women's Day : Tunisia Live - News, Economy,... - 0 views

  • First celebrated in Tunisia over fifty years ago, National Women’s Day commemorates the adoption of Tunisia’s Code of Personal Status (CPS), which was promulgated on August 13, 1956. The first law passed after the country gained independence from French rule, the CPS redefined the role of women within Tunisian society. The law outlawed polygamy, banned the wearing of the hijab, established a judicial process for divorce, and required the consent of both parties for a marriage to be considered valid. It also defined men and women as equal citizens and granted the right to comparable wages for men and women.
  • In particular, post-revolutionary power gains by Islamist political parties, such as Tunisia’s Ennahdha party, have led to unease among feminists. “Now, they [Ennahdha] want to take back all that we had achieved,” Saida Rachid stated today to Tunisia Live. “Unlike the reassuring and calming declarations from the Ennahdha party after the [October 2011 Constituent Assembly] elections, claiming that Tunisian women’s rights would remain safe, we are now under serious threat.” Rachid referred to article 28 of Tunisia’s draft constitution as particularly dangerous to women’s post-revolutionary gains. Terming women as man’s “partner,” the clause states that man’s and woman’s roles in the family are “complimentary.” The proposed article was approved by the Commission of Rights and Liberties on August 1 with a vote of 12 to 8, with Ennahdha party members comprising 9 of the votes in favor
  • Ennahdha Constituent Assembly member Souad Abderrahim called the public reaction to the article “very exaggerated.” She explained, “It is still a draft and not a final one…We wrote that women and men are complementary to each other, and not that women complement men. Second, we already mentioned the word ‘equality’ in article 22.”
Ed Webb

Hizb-ut-Tahrir Spokesman: "Our Appeal for a License has Been Accepted" : Tunisia Live - 1 views

  • Ridha Bel Haj, the spokesperson of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir movement in Tunisia, confirmed today that he was informed by the Prime Ministry that his organization would be awarded a license to operate as an officially recognized political party. “We received a call from the Prime Ministry today confirming that our appeal for a license has been accepted,” stated Bel Haj, who explained in an interview with Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM that the call had come from Lotfi Zitoun, a political affairs adviser to Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali.
  • ultraconservative, international, Islamist movement advocating for the establishment of a Caliphate
  • “In the coming days our party’s name will be published in the government’s catalog, listing all legally recognized parties.” The Prime Ministry was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Ed Webb

Rached Ghannouchi Re-Elected Leader of Ennahdha Party : Tunisia Live - 1 views

  • The 71-year-old Ghannouchi had previously said he didn’t want to continue as leader of the party, but the shura council, the committee within the party charged with designating a new head, had other plans, as Ghannouchi was selected from a list of 12 proposed names.
  • speech of invited Hamas leader Khaled Mechaal, who invoked solidarity between Ennahdha’s resistance of former President Ben Ali’s dictatorial rule and his own group’s activities
  • much of the tension was between first generation followers of the party and those who joined later, many of whom became active as part of the UGTE, the student union that swelled the party’s ranks during the 1980s
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  • some younger members of the party indeed held more conservative views that were in conflict with the moderate line so far extolled publicly by the party
  • Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, a member of Ennahdha who spent two decades in jail for his activism with the party, declared during the conference that he planned on reshuffling Tunisia’s interim government, opening up posts to small parties that were not yet part of the ruling “troika,”
Ed Webb

Tunisian Islamists show strength at chief's return - Yahoo! News - 0 views

  • The reception for Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party, at Tunis airport was the biggest showing by the Islamists in two decades, during which thousands of them were jailed or exiled by president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
  • The Islamists were Tunisia's strongest opposition force at the time Ben Ali cracked down on them in 1989 but are thought not to have played a leading role in the popular revolt.
  • A group of men performed prayers on a grass verge, a scene unthinkable in Tunisia just a few weeks ago
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  • Ennahda likens its ideology to that of Turkey's ruling AK Party, saying it is committed to democracy. Experts on political Islam say its ideas are some of the most moderate among Islamist groups
  • Asked how they had managed to organize so quickly, one activist said: "Our activities were stopped, but you can't disperse an ideology."
  • A handful of secularists turned up at the airport to demonstrate against the party, holding up a placard reading: "No Islamism, no theocracy, no Sharia and no stupidity!" Ennahda and its supporters say they do not seek an Islamic state and want only the right to participate in politics. "We want a democratic state," said Mohammed Habasi, an Ennahda supporter who said he had been jailed four times since 1991 for "belonging to a banned group." "We suffered the most from a lack of democracy," he said
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