July 10, 2020

Ennahda and the new "democratic Islam" face their most important test

In May 2015, Rachid Ghannouchi and Abdel Fatah Mouro, the founding leaders of the Ennahda Islamist movement, staged a reconciliation and gave a dramatic turn to Political Islam, the retrograde theory emanating from the Muslim Brothers that has dominated the Arab world since the past century .

Hand in hand with a massive congress held in the Rades Olympic pavilion, both presented their commitment to the so-called "democratic Islam", a project similar to that of the European Christian right that proposes to separate political action from religious preaching.

Thereafter, and despite the reluctance of some more conservative sectors, the movement split into two: a classic political party established as the first force in Parliament and a foundation dedicated to charity, social action and ideological reflection.

Five years later, this commitment to Islamodemocracy, unpublished and pioneer in the Arab world, faces its definitive test in the presidential elections that start this Sunday in Tunisia, with Mouro himself as the first candidate for the Palace of Carthage in the long and hectic history from Ennahda.

And in the legislative planned for October 6, in which, also for the first time, Ghannouchi will lead the training lists in the capital.

"People have become accustomed and perceive Ennahda more and more as a political party, even those who declare themselves as laity have begun to sympathize with our proposals," a party leader explains to Efe.

In the same vein the renowned political analyst Hamza Meddeb, who believes that this division between religious and laity "is no longer credible" in the political space that has grown in Tunisia throughout these years of transition since the overthrown dictatorship Zin el Abidin Ben Ali.

"Our goal is for Tunisians to feel that Ennahda is the party that cares about their real problems, about the economy, education, the future. So we have done these years in which we have supported the Government," insists the party representative , which prefers anonymity to respect the electoral law.

The first major exam for Ennahda was the 2014 legislative, before the reform, in which it achieved 36% of votes, only one tenth below the secular party platform Nidaa Tunis, formed by President Beji Caïd Essebsi, who died Last July

The successive splits of the platform, made up of parties and politicians of various kinds, made Ennahda the first force in Parliament and the pillar on which the criticized Prime Minister's Government, Yusef Chaheed, one of those They broke up with Nidaa Tunis.

Within this strategy of a discreet path to power, Ennahda chose not to enter the cabinet – avoiding the enormous wear and tear that it has suffered due to the acute economic crisis that suffocates the country – and limited itself to gaining experience and influence in secondary positions of the Administration, in which it has penetrated strongly.

The second test was the municipal last year, the first free held in Tunisia since the triumph in 2011 of the so-called Jasmine Revolution, in which political formation already took a good note.

Ennahda won those elections and assumed control of some of the country's mayor's offices, including that of the capital, for the first time in the hands of a woman.

Forbidden by the electoral law the polls – and the declarations to the foreign press -, it is unknown who leads the forecasts in this electoral autumn, but secretly the bets suggest that Mouro and his famous Tunisian traditional costume will be in the second round.

The lawyer of Moorish origin is a respected character in Tunisia: trained in a Sufi brotherhood opposed to colonialism, he was imprisoned by the two previous presidents for his political activities.

In house arrest until the fall of the dictator, Mouro cultivated the image of generous resistant by practicing law among the most needy, while Ghannouchi fought Ben Ali from exile.

Now, from the previous step to the State headquarters, he defends that the job of president is that of "a diplomat", he is committed to "reviewing international relations to improve Tunisia's economic benefit", proposes a closer union in the Maghreb and a new look at sub-Saharan Africa.

In the campaign he has also talked about more bizarre measures, such as the formation of a "cyber army" and accused politicians of having let the country join in the economic crisis that threatens to dynamit its weak and exemplary transition.

"The constitution gives the president powers only to preserve the prestige of the State, protect institutions and the independence of Justice, but also to mark the great political orientations of the Republic," he said, in a campaign statement of the new Ennahda , which faces its final exam.

Javier Martín

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