We Are Leaving Political Islam: Ghannouchi's Current Opinion And Position
03 June 2016
By Tariq Alhomayed
In an interview with the French Le Monde newspaper, the leader of Tunisia's
Muslim Brotherhood Ennahda party Rachid Ghannouchi announced that the path of
the party has been transformed and said that ''We are leaving political Islam
and entering democratic Islam. We are Muslim democrats who no longer claim to
represent political Islam''
Ghannouchi stressed that the Ennahda party is ''a political, democratic and
civilian party based on modern, Muslim and civilised values … We are going
towards a party which specialises only in political activities''. Ghannouchi
explained further by saying ''We want religious activity to be completely
independent from political activity. This is good for politicians because they
would no longer be accused of manipulating religion for political means and
good for religion because it would not be held hostage to politics''.
This is Ghannouchi's current opinion and position. Does this mean that he is
apologising for decades of incitement carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood in
our region under religious cover in order to reach purely political purposes
that he openly admits now by saying ''This is good for politicians because
they would no longer be accused of manipulating religion for political means
and good for religion because it would not be held hostage to politics''?
Or is Ghannouchi convinced that there is no hope for political Islam in the
Arab world and internationally, and that this is the beginning of the actual
end of political Islam, especially as a European diplomatic source told the
French press that ''Ghannouchi is almost obsessed with persuading Western
partners that the Ennahda party is not the Muslim Brotherhood''? We say that
there is no hope for political Islam because, particularly after the Arab
Spring, there is a clear rejection of currents of political Islam in our
region, and in Gulf societies specifically. The currents of political Islam
have lost their credibility and are no longer what they were previously.
Internationally, we are coming to the end of President Barack Obama's
presidency. Obama thought that political Islam would bring democracy and
political reform to the region, and that Islamist parties, particularly the
Muslim Brotherhood, would be along the lines of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party.
However, today we see what Erdogan is doing in terms of encroachment to attain
Will Ghannouchi's announcement that the Ennahda party does not associate
itself with ''political Islam'' start a serious debate in our region that
discusses the damage that political Islam causes? Will it result in the
rectification of outdated concepts that are cemented in the minds of
generations as a result of the Islamic movement campaigns, especially the
Muslim Brotherhood, which led campaigns that incited hate for decades in
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and destroyed young people
after transforming them into extremist villains? We hope so.
Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr.
Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current
affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous
positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the
first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a
bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.
He is based in London.