The anger of Tunisians against the Muslim Brotherhood


By Souad Sbai

“Go away, terrorist!”, “Go away, murderer.” The balance of these years of government with the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia should not be flattering given that this is the welcome given to their leader, Rashid Ghannouchi, during the electoral tour he is carrying out in the south of the country. From Ben Kardan he was even forced to flee because of the rage of the population against him, unable to hold the meeting that was scheduled to take place in the city stadium. The aim of the tour was to revive the image of the Ennhada party – now definitively compromised by the discovery of its secret apparatus – accused of the murder of two opponents in 2013, (Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahimi) of persecuting political opponents and of infiltrating the state institutions.

In last year’s municipal elections, Ennhada registered total support in the south, where Ghannouchi was counting on receiving the necessary impulse to continue the electoral campaign until October and November, when the next legislative and presidential elections will take place. The scandal on the secret apparatus largely explains a similar turnaround in a few months, but we must also consider the persistent economic crisis and pervasive corruption: two factors about which Ennhada has shown not to be exempt from liability. Therefore, the false launching does not suggest a favorable outcome of the poll results, although the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to remain politically relevant, count on the split that took place within the majority party Nida Tounes.

Moderate and secular, Nida Tounes was founded in 2012 by who later became the President of Tunisia, Beji Caid Essebsi, with the aim of fighting against the Muslim Brotherhood. Objective reached so far, because the forced coexistence in the government between Nida Tounes and Ennhada has served as a wall against the advance of the latest one, allowing Essebsi to prepare the ground for the start of a reform process that, with luck, should take flight in case of victory in the next elections. For this purpose served the report made by a special commission formed by Essebsi, that in June 2018 asked the Parliament to introduce the necessary measures to adapt the current legislation to the fundamental principles of the Tunisian constitution with regard to civil rights and especially to women’s rights.

The report has provoked sharp nails in the ultra-conservative forces and has put the Muslim Brotherhood in front of their own contradictions: to remain anchored to their own ideology, based on the submission of women and the discrimination that take place in all areas, or to embrace the change by showing a different image with respect to their own identity in order not to lose the possibility of allying tactically with the secular and reformist forces if the political game requires it.

The exit from Nida Tounes of the Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, presidential candidate with his party Tahya Tounes, fuels Ghannouchi’s hopes of remaining in government. Essebsi, in fact, is convinced that the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood will support Chahed in his candidacy for the presidency. “It is not a secret to anyone in Tunisia,” he said.

Essebsi will seek re-confirmation as president despite his 92 years. Today, he is the oldest president in the world and his advanced age has cost him more than some criticism and tease. However, his case is very different from that of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria, since he has certainly not dressed as president-dictator over twenty years. Essebsi’s goal is to direct the post-Ben Ali Tunisia towards prospects for development, modernity, human rights, security and, for this purpose, its figure is indispensable. Essebsi has yet to complete his work: to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood from the power and from Tunisian future.




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