The Ennadha Movement presented a list chaired by a Tunisian of Jewish faith called Simon Slama, for the upcoming municipal elections in Monastir. As soon as the news began to circulate, the controversies surfaced on social networks and the media. While some argue that this is political manipulation, others consider that the Islamist movement is banking on religious plurality and wants to improve its image. Contacted by leconomistemaghrebin.com, the political scientist and director of the Arab Center for Research and Political Analysis (CARAPS) in Geneva, Riadh Sidaoui, kindly gave us his analysis of the situation.
Riadh Sidaoui recalls that “the Ennahdha movement is still accused of being behind terrorism from its creation until now through the period of the Troika. This is why he must defend himself against these accusations, ”he believes. For him, the choice to put a Tunisian of Jewish faith at the head of a electoral list for the municipal elections is part of the defense against the accusations leveled against the Islamist party. “This is a message addressed to the Western world and not to Tunisian voters,” he said. In the same context, our interlocutor indicated that this is a message addressed particularly to the United States, Great Britain and France. Thus the Ennahdha movement would like to show that it has revisited its ideas towards more openness and tolerance.
The specialist recalled that this is not the first message launched by the Ennahdha movement: exclusion of the hard wing of the movement from parliamentary elections and the designation of women on its lists. “I think it is a good step to include non-Muslim Tunisians in the political process. However, supporters of the Islamist movement risk not adhering to this choice, ”he said.
Why did the secular and leftist political parties not get ahead of the Ennahdha movement by doing the same? To this question, Riadh Sidaoui believes that the left parties and secular parties do not need this maneuver because they are interested in expanding their electoral base in Tunisia, unlike the Ennahdha movement which seeks, among others, to improve its image abroad.
As a reminder, this is not the first in the history of Tunisia. André Barouch, a Tunisian of Jewish faith was elected to the first Constituent Assembly in 1956 and re-elected to the National Assembly of 1959 and that of 1964. Albert Bessis, a Tunisian of Jewish faith, was also at the head of the ministry of Town Planning from 1955 to 1956 to the Tahar Ben Ammar government. In 2005, Roger Bismuth, president of the Jewish community of Tunisia, acceded to the Tunisian Parliament.
By Hamza Marzouk
Posted on 02/21/2018 at 4:27 PM
The Maghrebian Economist