Who’s Ghannouchi, the Ennahdha social gathering chief arrested in Tunisia? | Information

A Tunisian decide has ordered the imprisonment pending trial of Rached Ghannouchi, the chief of Tunisia’s predominant opposition social gathering and an ardent critic of President Kaid Saied, on fees of incitement towards state authorities.

Thursday’s order marks the most recent improvement in a tumultuous week that began with practically 100 policemen raiding the home of the Ennahdha social gathering chief whereas he was breaking his Ramadan quick on Monday.

Native information reported that the 81-year-old chief had been arrested on a warrant by counterterrorism prosecutors as a part of an investigation into latest “provocative” feedback. The social gathering and its supporters say the costs are politically motivated – a part of a wider marketing campaign that has seen different social gathering officers, together with an ex-prime minister, arrested.

Hours later, on Tuesday, Tunisian police raided and closed the Ennahdha headquarters within the capital, Tunis, amid a rising crackdown on opponents of Saied, who sacked the federal government in 2021, dissolved the democratically-elected parliament and began ruling by decree, in what his opponents have referred to as a “coup”.

Ennahdha, a self-styled “Muslim democrat” social gathering with its roots in political Islam, has dominated politics within the North African nation for the reason that 2011 revolution that triggered Arab Spring protests throughout the area and toppled the longtime chief President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


Ghannouchi was born in a village in Tunisia’s southern province of Gabes to a poor farming household in 1941, when the nation was nonetheless below French colonial rule – which might final till 1956.

Ghannouchi graduated in theology in 1962 from Ez-Zitouna College, a prestigious and historic centre of Islamic studying.

Ghannouchi was learning agriculture at Cairo College in Egypt in 1964, however then moved to Syria the place he graduated in 1968 in philosophy on the College of Damascus. He continued to check philosophy the next 12 months at Paris’s Sorbonne College in France.

Ennahdha’s political ideology

After ending his research within the early Nineteen Seventies, Ghannouchi began constructing a motion with a small group of younger thinkers disenchanted with Tunisian secularism practised below authoritarian chief Habib Bourguiba.

The motion was primarily based on Islamic values whereas being dedicated to multiparty democracy. Its goal was to contribute to the democratisation of Bourguiba’s regime whereas additionally creating house for Islam to be included within the public sphere. In 1981, Ghannouchi based the Islamic Tendency Motion, a celebration that might be later named Ennahdha.

Ghannouchi was an eclectic mental due to the totally different tendencies and traditions that he had been uncovered to all through his early life, in accordance with Andrew March, professor of political science on the College of Massachusetts and skilled on political philosophy and Islamic regulation.

He drew inspiration from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, but in addition from Tunisian thinkers and regional philosophers resembling Algerian Malik Bennabi.

“Ghannouchi’s ideology can’t be merely restricted to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s to a big extent due to Bennabi, who had a wider understanding of the idea of civilisation – one which was not unique to Islam however that included different religions and cultures,” mentioned March.

Bennabi additionally pushed on the necessity for Islam to play a task within the public sphere, however not as the only participant, whereas he additionally careworn that Islamic regulation may be superior in a number of methods – concepts that might encourage Ghannouchi’s philosophy.

Ghannouchi greatest articulated his views on Islam and democracy within the e-book Public Freedom. “The core concept of that e-book is that the folks had final sovereignty over all establishments, together with non secular establishments,” March mentioned.

After being imprisoned twice within the Nineteen Eighties, Ghannouchi moved to London in 1993 the place he spent greater than 20 years in exile within the suburbs of the British capital.

Return to Tunisia

Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia from his exile to a triumphant welcome in January 2011 after longtime chief Ben Ali had fled the nation following weeks of protests.

In October 2011 Ennahdha emerged as the biggest social gathering within the nation’s first parliamentary elections for the reason that removing of Ben Ali, successful 37 % of the vote.

Ghannouchi didn’t take a authorities place, however the social gathering’s secretary-general Hamadi Jebali turned the nation’s prime minister.

Within the years that adopted and below Ghannouchi’s management, Ennahdha remained probably the most influential events within the nation, serving to in drafting the structure in 2014 and supporting successive governing coalitions with secular events.

It was solely in 2019 that he ran for a management function throughout the authorities, changing into parliament speaker.

Since 2021, Tunisia’s democratic beneficial properties have been swept away as President Kais Saied dismantled democratic establishments, together with the parliament, and declared that he would rule by presidential decree. A 12 months later, he pushed for a controversial referendum on a brand new structure, giving his workplace vastly expanded powers.

Saied maintained that Tunisia wanted a robust presidency to allow the officeholder to behave shortly and decisively.

Members of the political opposition, activists, attorneys and even radio hosts have been focused throughout Saied’s broadening crackdown towards critics, whom he has publicly labelled as “terrorists”.

Inside criticisms

Ghannouchi has emerged as considered one of Saied’s largest critics, aiming to keep up the legacy of Tunisia’s revolution and the pro-democratic battle in Tunisia and the Arab world.

Nevertheless, his reputation, in Ennahdha and past, had been on the wane, along with his social gathering, and others throughout the new political institution, unable to free Tunisia from an ongoing financial disaster.

Earlier than the 2019 elections, which introduced Saied into energy, Tunisia’s financial disaster noticed inflation spiking to 7.8 % and the unemployment fee rising to greater than 15 % in 2018.

The populist Saied has been in a position to take benefit, even when he has achieved little to enhance the financial scenario.

Critics say Ghannouchi failed to keep up the unique vibrant nature of the social gathering by excluding youthful voices, opting as an alternative to encompass himself with previous consultants whereas sustaining energy.

“His largest failure was coming to the tragedy of longevity,” mentioned Monika Marks, assistant professor of Center East politics at New York College, Abu Dhabi. “He allowed Ennahdha’s high management to turn out to be crusty and unresponsive to a democratic debate throughout the social gathering and to essentially the most respectable criticism from the citizens.”

Ghannouchi needed Tunisia’s “political panorama to be a democratic one”, Marks added, however he has maintained a dominant hegemonic function inside Ennahdha to the criticism of some who believed he ought to have stepped apart.

The chief additionally drew some criticism from throughout the social gathering over strategic decisions he made for the reason that 2019 elections and for being too cautious in confronting Saied’s choices – a problem that triggered the resignation of greater than 100 senior members from Ennahdha in 2021.

“He was complacent in that he thought democracy is a pure factor and that folks would combat for it … he didn’t take significantly sufficient that there was a robust anti-democratic curiosity group against democracy,” mentioned Mohamed Fadel, professor on the College of Toronto School of Regulation.

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