Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tunisia's Identity politics

Here is a brief excerpt from my piece in Al-Masry Al-Youm this week:

Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamic-oriented Ennahda (Renaissance) Party, drew attention this week when he suggested in several interviews that his party would win a majority in the upcoming parliament. However, at a press conference in Tunis on Wednesday, Ghannouchi warned that "there is a risk of the election results being manipulated.”

“If there is manipulation, we will rejoin the forces and the guardians of the revolution which ousted Ben Ali and the first [interim] government. We are ready to oust up to ten governments if needed,” he was quoted as saying.

The comment has drawn concern from other Tunisian political parties, including the the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

“We are not going to work with them, especially after this last declaration,” says Ahmed Bouazzi, a member of the PDP’s executive committee. However, PDP insists that it will respect the results of the election, regardless of the results. “We believe these elections will be fair. We will accept them because we are democrats. If Ennahda wins the majority, we will accept the result.”

Ennahda insists on shucking the “Islamist” label, instead saying that it is a party with an Arab-Islamic “reference.”

“For us, the respect of Islam, of our history, our civilization, that’s the base of our party,” says Nourreddine Arbaoui, a member of Ennahda's political bureau.

The entire piece is available at

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