Thursday, October 11, 2012

Game's up, Ghannouchi

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

It’s not every day one gets to savor the galvanic, visceral bliss of vindication, so I hope Tunisia’s secularists are making full use of the occasion today. Having argued from the moment of Rachid Ghannouchi’s return from exile that the leader of Ennahda was a sinister fanatic with a deeply illiberal vision for the country – and having been denounced as reactionaries, Zionists and Ben Ali agents for doing so – their fears may finally have proven accurate.

A video uploaded yesterday apparently shows Ghannouchi sitting down with a group of Salafists and recommending ways for them to safeguard and build on the political successes they’ve had so far. An AFP report quotes Ghannouchi telling them “to be patient… Why hurry? Take your time, to consolidate what you have gained […] create television channels, radio stations, schools and universities”. He also urged them to be on guard against the secularists, who “could make a comeback after their failure” in the October elections.

These Salafists are the ideological brethren, don’t forget, of those who assaulted the US embassy in Tunis last month, killing 4 and injuring 46; who smashed up a hotel in Sidi Bouzid chanting “al-sharab haram” (“drinking is a sin”) earlier in the same month; and who Ghannouchi himself outwardly affects to decry as a “[danger] to public freedom”.

Can we at last dispense with the fatuous notion of “moderate Islamism”? As I’ve long argued, the very phrase is an oxymoron; Islamism being extremism by definition. Entrusting the task of warding off theocracy to a man who is himself a theocrat is, one would have thought, an obviously problematic idea. Sadly, however, with almost the entire region now clenched in the hands of exactly such theocrats, it seems we’re doomed to find this out the hard way.

No comments:

Post a Comment