Archive for Rachid Ghannouchi

Islamist Party Says Islamic Law Doesn’t Need to be Enshrined in New Tunisian Constitution

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by loonwatch

rachid_ghannouchi1

Ennahda Party leader Rachid Ghannouchi

I think someone’s head just exploded in the anti-Muslim movement.

They have zero understanding of the differing histories, philosophies or political thought of the various Islamist trends within the Muslim world. To them Islamists are all AlQaeda or some other such offshoot.

Of course, the hatemongers will revert to form and declare that this is all just taqiya, they will be unable to explain why, when Ennahda has a clear majority and is in a position to implement whatever they want, they instead forge a national unity government. They will also be unable to explain why Ennahda says their position are in line with Islamic values and principles.

Islamic Law Won’t Be Basis of New Tunisian Constitution

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Islamic law will not be enshrined in Tunisia’s new constitution, preserving the secular basis of the North African nation, Tunisia’s ruling Islamist Ennahda Party said Monday.

The first article of the new constitution would remain the same as in the 1959 version and it will not call for Shariah, Islamic law, to be the source of all legislation, as many conservatives had wanted.

The decision marks a break between the moderate Islamist Ennahda and an increasingly vocal minority of ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis who have been demanding Islamic law in a country long known for its progressive traditions.

“We do not want Tunisian society to be divided into two ideologically opposed camps, one pro-Shariah and one anti-Shariah,” said Rachid al-Ghannoushi, the founder of the Ennahda Party in a press conference. “We want above all a constitution that is for all Tunisians, whatever their convictions.”

He added that in his opinion, 90 percent of Tunisia’s existing legislation was already in line with the precepts of Islamic law.

Ziad Doulatli, another party leader, told The Associated Press that decision was taken so as to “unite a large majority of the political forces to confront the country’s challenges.”

“The Tunisian experience can serve as a model for other countries going through similar transformations,” he added.

In Egypt, as well as many other Muslim countries, Shariah is enshrined in the constitution as the source of all legislation.

Under more than 50 years of secular dictatorship, Tunisia stood out in the Arab world for its progressive laws, especially regarding the status of women. Many leftists and liberals feared this would be rolled back with the victory of an Islamist party at the polls.

Ennahda, however, has always pledged to maintain the character of the state and formed a coalition government with two secular parties.

The decision, however, is bound to provoke a backlash from the Salafis — some 10,000 of whom demonstrated Sunday in Tunis, the capital, calling for Islamic law.

Despite their numerous demonstrations, the degree of support that the Salafis have from the broader Tunisian society is not clear. Ennahda’s decision to spurn their demands suggests they do not have widespread appeal.

The first article of Tunisia’s constitution states that “Tunisia is a free, sovereign and independent state, whose religion is Islam, language is Arabic and has a republican regime.”

Tunisians overthrew their dictatorship in a popular uprising last year that inspired pro-democracy movements across North African and the Middle East.

In October, they elected a new assembly to govern as well as write the country’s new constitution. Secular and Islamist groups have been holding demonstrations to influence the new document.

According to Fadhel Moussa of the leftist Democratic Modernist Axis, the agreement on the first article settles a long debate in the assembly and opens the way to creating the rest of the new constitution.

Women in Parliament: Islamists in Tunisia Field More Women as Candidates than the Percentage of Women in the US Congress

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by loonwatch
TUNISIA_Women_ParliamentTunisian Parliament–Nov 23, 2011

Whenever a Western power wants to invade and or bomb a Muslim nation one invariably hears about how the “women are oppressed in ________(insert Muslim nation of choice)” and “we must liberate them from the clutches of those evil, backward, misogynistic Muslim men.” That is one of the reasons we’ve termed the bombing, invasion and occupation of Muslim lands, the Greater Islamophobia.

Interestingly, when one analyzes say…the number of women in positions of power in countries across the world, we see the percentages of women in parliament to be higher in many majority Muslim nations than in parts of the West. [These statistics also buttress the fact that more Muslim nations have had female leaders, (Presidents, Prime Ministers) than the USA!]

Below we have a list of countries whose percentages of women in parliament is higher than the USA, which ranks a dismal 71st.

*Afghanistan (I have added an asterisk here because this nation is under foreign occupation and the results for many are not considered legitimate. However it is still interesting that Afghanis, some of the most vilified people in the world today when it comes to views of women vote for them at a higher percentage than Americans.)

Rank Country Lower or single House Upper House or Senate
Elections Seats* Women % W Elections Seats* Women % W
30 Afghanistan 9 2010 249 69 27.7% 1 2011 102 28 27.5%

Tunisia is not a surprise to many who know the country, but lets put these numbers into perspective. The Islamist party Ennahda won elections, they are known as “moderates,” but within the media, especially the Right we see an effort to translate Ennahda’s victory into a harbinger for the repression of women’s rights and other usual hoopla associated with Right-wing anti-Islam rhetoric. As the Angry Arab, As’ad Abu Khalil remarks, “I just figured that Tunisian Islamists fielded more women as candidates than the percentage of women in the US Congress.”

32 Tunisia 10 2011 217 57 26.3%

*Iraq

36 Iraq 3 2010 325 82 25.2%

Sudan

37 Sudan 4 2010 346 87 25.1% 5 2010 28 5 17.9%

Kyrgyzstan

45 Kyrgyzstan 10 2010 120 28 23.3%

Senegal

46 Senegal 6 2007 150 34 22.7% 8 2007 100 40 40.0%

Pakistan

47 Pakistan 2 2008 342 76 22.2% 3 2009 100 17 17.0%

Mauritania

48 Mauritania 11 2006 95 21 22.1% 11 2009 56 8 14.3%

Uzbekistan

49 Uzbekistan 12 2009 150 33 22.0% 1 2010 100 15 15.0%

Tajikistan

60 Tajikistan 2 2010 63 12 19.0% 3 2010 34 5 14.7%

Bangladesh

63 Bangladesh 12 2008 345 64 18.6%

Indonesia

65 Indonesia 4 2009 560 101 18.0%

Kazakhstan

66 Kazakhstan 8 2007 107 19 17.8% 8 2011 47 ? ?

United Arab Emirates

67 United Arab Emirates 9 2011 40 7 17.5%

All of the above nations did better than the USA.

Here are two Western nations who you’d think would have done better in the numbers and who wax eloquent about “women’s rights,” even using it as a pretext to bomb and invade nations:

61 France 6 2007 577 109 18.9% 9 2011 348 77 22.1%
71 United States of America 2 11 2010 434 73 16.8% 11 2010 100 17 17.0%

Of course some of the above Muslim nations still have low percentages, however my purpose here is not to draw conclusions but to add to the empirical evidence when it comes to the discussion of women, women’s role in Muslim societies and women’s rights.

As the battle over birth control, invasive procedures before abortion, etc. rages on in the USA, the above stats provide a healthy if sobering perspective to the belligerent discussion in the looniverse about Muslim women.

The Economist’s Epic Fail: Libels Moderate Muslim Leader, Then Offers Half-Baked Apology

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

The Economist recently published an article entitled Now is the time on the subject of Tunisia.  In that article, they mentioned Rashid Al-Ghannushi, the leader of Ḥizb al‐Nahḍah, the Tunisian Renaissance Party.  Al-Ghannushi is a well-known Islamic intellectual, so it was somewhat surprising to see The Economist portray him as a fundamentalist; but more outrageously, the article claimed (incorrectly) that Al-Ghannushi threatened to hang a prominent Tunisian feminist!

When they were notified of this horrendous error, the editors of The Economist had the decency to issue a public apology, saying:

An apology to Rachid Ghannouchi

IN OUR briefing last week on women and the Arab awakening (“Now is the time”), we said that Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Nahda party, opposes the country’s liberal code of individual rights, the Code of Personal Status, and its prohibition of polygamy. We also said that he has threatened to hang a prominent Tunisian feminist, Raja bin Salama, in Basij Square in Tunis, because she has called for the country’s new laws to be based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We accept that neither of these statements is true: Mr Ghannouchi has expressly said that he accepts the Code of Personal Status; and he never threatened to hang Ms bin Salama. We apologise to him unreservedly.

Did I say you’re a convicted sex offender and that you like to rape little kids?  My bad.  Sorry about that.

Yes, it’s true that everyone makes mistakes, but don’t you think you should be careful before you accuse someone of wanting to hang a woman?  It also indicates that the writer did not know much about Tunisian politics and religious discourse, which begs the question: why does Anglo-American media use “Middle East experts” who don’t know even the basics about the topic?  It’s just a case of the blind leading the blind.  No wonder I actually took it seriously when I first read the headline Journalist Mistakenly Interviews Bollywood Actor Imran Khan Instead of Pakistani Cricket Legend. (It’s an Indian “Onion” site.)

I mean, dammit, can’t the writers and editors of The Economist even bother to use the resources that a high school student would use to do a social studies report, like Google or Wikipedia?  Here’s what Wikipedia says of Rashid Al-Ghannushi:

Al-Ghannushi claims to represent a progressive strain in Islamic reformism, and continuously stresses the need for innovation against social injustice. He underscores the importance of local culture, and an Islamist movement based in the needs of Tunisians and not in “the obscure theories of Sayyid Qutb“. He has sided with worker’s rightsunionism, and women’s education and rights, though those rights are based in Islam and not Western liberal feminism.[2]

He maintains that women, being one half of the Islamic community, should have full access to education[5] He cites oppressive cultural codes in Islamic cultures as the major force behind women’s choices to turn to Western culture, and believes that Islamic reform, as part of a larger reformist movement, is needed to address women’s education, participation, and respect…[6]

In discussions of plurality within Islamic societies, Rashid Al-Ghannushi believes that non-Muslim citizens should not be barred from positions in government, setting himself against more conservative viewpoints.[7]

On 22 January 2011, in an interview with Al Jazeera TV, Rashid Al-Ghannushi confirmed that he is against an Islamic Caliphate, and supports democracy instead, unlike Hizb ut-Tahrir. In the interview, Al-Ghannushi accused Hizb ut-Tahrir of exporting a distorted understanding of Islam.[8] For expressing moderate views, Rachid Ghanouchi is banned from entering Iran and Saudi Arabia.[9]

Please email the editors of The Economist and tell them of this new thing called Wikipedia.  In the words of Michael Scott: “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”  Even Michael Scott could have done a better job of this.

Anyways, the reason I call The Economist’s apology “half-baked” (I wanted to use another word) is that they didn’t even bother to at least list off Rashid Al-Ghannushi’s religious and political views, especially when it comes to human, civil, and womens’ rights.  Once you’ve defamed his reputation so much, shouldn’t you at least clarify what his real views are on women?  After reading the apology, an average Joe would think “fine, maybe he didn’t say that, but he must still be pretty extreme…”  That is why the apology is wholly insufficient.

Note: This article should not at all be seen as an endorsement of Rashid Al-Ghannushi.  Although I am aware of Rashid Al-Ghannushi and some basics about him, I do not profess to have read his work in detail.  (To be perfectly clear, I am a proponent of secular, liberal democracy.  But alas, that is a discussion for another time…)

Haroon Mughal: Why Christopher Hitchens Writes About Things He Doesn’t Understand: Tunisia, Islam, and Sources

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by loonwatch

Christopher Hitchens is a much loved public figure, his hard hitting and biting humor have made many of us laugh and he is great to watch in debate. Unfortunately, his image at times precedes actual facts and Haroon Moghul really slams him in a recent piece about Hitchens article on Tunisia and Islam.

Hitchens took a professor’s word that she had been sentenced to death by an Islamist by the name of Rachid Ghannouchi. He didn’t do his homework of course because if he did he would realize that Rachid Ghannouchi is one of the most liberal “Islamists” out there, akin to the AKP in Turkey.

Why Christopher Hitchens Writes About Things He Doesn’t Understand: Tunisia, Islam, and Sources

by Haroon Mughal

I’m not a fan of Christopher Hitchens. I found this absurdly decontextualized piece by Hitchens, written for Vanity Fair in 2007, all but fawning over the dictatorial delights of Tunisia–people can hold hands, so it’s okay if they can’t vote–and was especially amused by this passage:

Mongia Souaihi cheerfully explained to me the many reasons why the veil is not authorized by the Koran and why she is in danger for drawing this conclusion in print. “The fundamentalists from overseas have declared me to be kuffar—an unbeliever.” This I know to be dangerous, because a Muslim who has once been declared to be an apostate is also a person who can be sentenced to death. “Which fundamentalists? And from where overseas?” “Rachid Ghannouchi, from London.” Oh no, not again. If you saw my “Londonistan” essay, in the June Vanity Fair, you will know that fanatics who are unwelcome in Africa and Arabia are allowed an astonishing freedom in the United Kingdom.

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance Party) has long been symbolized by Rachid Ghannouchi, among the most liberal Islamists in the world. His opinions would certainly not jive with those of hardline Islamists in places like Pakistan. Yet here is Hitchens, taking at face value the word of a professor who certainly serves at the pleasure of one of the most politically oppressive states in the world, talking smack about a religious figure who is identified as an enemy of the state.

Wouldn’t a good journalist at least try to investigate? I mean, why would you, for example, swallow, hook, line and sinker, the words of a hardline Iranian cleric about a dissident Iranian religious thinker in London? Isn’t it odd that she says the fundamentalists (plural) are after her, but then names only one, who might also be opposed to her because she is giving religious cover to tyranny?

But Hitchens is more concerned with satisfying his bias than with actually figuring out what’s going on. Or maybe we should believe everything Vladimir Putin’s appointees have to say about Putin’s enemies. All the more pathetic because Ben Ali came to power, in 1987, in part over regional concerns over Islamic parties, specifically including Ennahda. The extent of Hitchens’ effort is a pathetic, ‘Oh no, not again,’ which brings to mind the TV news journalist I heard a few days ago who, on hearing that 49 of 50 states were covered by snow for the first time ever, said, ‘Go figure.’

What does he get paid to do?

Hitchens also gets the causality wrong:

To the west lay the enormous country of Algeria, again artificially prosperous through oil and natural gas, but recently the scene of a heinous Islamist insurgency that—along with harsh and vigorous state repression—had killed perhaps 150,000 people.

The Islamist violence started after the state canceled elections. Why mention the Islamist violence as if it preceded, or precipitated, the state violence? The state didn’t repress the insurgency; the state was repressive, repressed the results of elections, which in turn led to a civil war, in which the state didn’t just repress an insurgency, but actively contributed to its prolonging by refusing to create any political space for dissent and debate.

The audacity of ideology.

Oh, and the word isn’t “kuffar,” it’s kafir. Kuffar is a plural form. I certainly hope Hitchens screwed that up. At least, I wouldn’t be surprised. (In his silly book ‘God is not Great,’ Hitchens proudly boasts how he knows the Arabic world ‘Al-’ means ‘The’).