France24 reports on a disturbing trend in Tunisia, where radical preachers, some from outside the country, are flooding public spaces, “to promote their vision of religion.” According to Messaoud Romdhani, the vice president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights, the supposedly secular Islamist Ennahda political party and the government support the influx of preachers from outside the country. From France24:
These practices are being encouraged by the wave of preachers visiting Tunisia from the Gulf or the Middle East. Even though some of them have extremist views, these foreign imams often come to Tunisia with the blessing of the government or the Islamist party Ennahda, the party in power, which accommodate and welcome them.
Interestingly enough, in January 2012, Rachid Ghannouchi, the co-founder and current leader of Ennahda, counseled Salafists to bide their time by improving their religious infrastructure. One of the things Ghannouchi suggested was for the Salafists to “invite religious preachers” to spread the word [see LWJ report, ‘Moderate’ Islamist leader in Tunisia strategizes with al Qaeda-linked Salafists; emphasis added below]:
“The secularists are still controlling the media, economy and administration,” Ghannouchi warned the Salafists, according to Magharebia. “Therefore, controlling them would require more time.” He advised the Salafists to “create television channels, radio stations, schools and universities” to increase their influence.
Ghannouchi also warned that “the police and army’s support for Islamists is not guaranteed, and controlling them would also require more time.” He continued: “I tell our young Salafists to be patient…. Why hurry? Take your time to consolidate what you have gained.”
“The Islamists must fill the country with associations, establish Qur’anic schools everywhere, and invite religious preachers because people are still ignorant of Islam,” Ghannouchi stated.
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