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The Ennahda Movement and Tunisian Democracy
Supporters of Tunisia’s Ennahda party celebrate in October 2019 after exit polls gave them a good showing in the country’s parliamentary election. (Chedly Ben Ibrahim/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Ennahda Movement and Tunisian Democracy

Al-Arab, London, October 9

If the Tunisian political parties succeed in coming together and promulgating a law in the House of Representatives whereby religious organizations are prohibited from practicing political work, Tunisia will have paved a path toward genuine reform and the Jasmine Revolution will have achieved its goals of freedom, equality and justice. Even the economic situation will experience remarkable improvement. Through such a law, Ennahda, Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed movement, will essentially be isolated and barred from intervening in political affairs. But if the movement succeeds in turning into a de facto political party, which so far has not happened, Tunisia will be at great risk of falling into the hands of traitorous and conniving religious fundamentalists. Ennahda practices deception on multiple levels. It recruits its large number of supporters in the countryside, among those with limited political experience and awareness. It promotes cheap propaganda about what is forbidden and what is permissible, basing its verdicts according to its leaders’ political interests. Outwardly, it presents itself as a legitimate movement organically backed by the Tunisian people. However, what has become clear is that Ennahda is the main driver of the chaos that has plagued Tunisian political life. Realizing that sitting in the opposition will only diminish its power and shrink its base, it now wants to reshuffle the cards and assume greater political power. Ennahda isn’t interested in power-sharing; it is prepared to disrupt political life in Tunisia to prevent a government of moderates from forming. To do so, it has garnered the support of fringe political players with the hope of portraying itself as the leader of a legitimate political bloc that conceals its desire to rule alone. Ennahdha, allied with others, is using its political weight to disrupt the work of the government. In doing so, it has made its priorities clear: Either it will rule Tunisia or it will wreak havoc. This is what the movement did and what it will continue to do as long as it isn’t outlawed. Indeed, in all of the pitfalls of the Tunisian democratic experience, there is a clear and recurring fingerprint left by the Ennahda movement. – Farouk Youssef (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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