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2012-03-09

Ghannouchi: secularism does not conflict with Islam

By Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 09/03/12

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Secularism does not conflict with the principles of Islam, according to Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi.

"Secularism appears to be a philosophy that contradicts religious perceptions, but things are not as has been posed," he explained in a March 2nd lecture, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Tunis. "Secularism emerged in the West and evolved as solutions and measures for problems between church and state posed in central Europe within the framework of churches in the Protestant state."

"So secularism is only procedures and not atheist philosophy," he added.

Ikram Koubàa, a Tunisian citizen, considered Ghannouchi's statements positive and reassuring, indicating a new development in the Ennahda Movement's discourse, and a higher level of intellectual awareness among Tunisia's Islamists.

But others saw ambiguity in Ghannouchi's concept of secularism.

"We call for a secularism separating politics from religion and respecting our identity and our religious minorities, in which religion does not interfere with politics," Achref Smairi said.

Ghannouchi stressed that the troubling interactions between the Islamist and secular intellectual elites stemmed from confusion about the concepts of secularism and Islam.

On the other hand, he also noted that if religion and state were completely separated, it would become easier to abuse both.

He added, "Islam grew up combining religion and politics and religion and state, and Muslims were constantly influenced by religion and they should seek inspiration from the values of Islam and its teachings to face their civilian lives."

Ghannouchi also stressed that Islam is a civilised religion and does not contradict with civil society.

Many reject Ghannouchi's idea of an overlap between religion and politics.

Abdessatar Akrimi said, "There must be a separation between religion and politics, because religion is a personal matter and every person is free in his convictions and no one can call him to account on his belief. Thus, Islam should not be interjected in political conflicts and employed to serve private interest."

On the other hand Ghannouchi said, "Religiosity based on coercion is meaningless, because the Islamic nation does not need hypocrites, as people's religiosity and what is in their hearts pertains to God. Further, Islam is a religion of the people and not a religion of the elite and not a religion of one party or another."

With regard to the growing confrontations with Salafist groups, particularly at educational institutions and mosques, Ghannouchi described Salafists as "the fruit of a dictatorial regime". He called for dialogue with them and embracing them to exit this conflict.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    شفق 2013-5-30

    No one can criticize the statements of Mr Rached El Ghannouchi without understanding the meaning of secularism or the state of Islam in Tunisia in particular and the Islamic world in general. Secularism separates religion from politics but it is not contradictory with the principles of Islam. This concept, i.e. separating religion from politics adopted by secularists, cannot be overcome overnight. A better approach is to live with them and change their paradigm related to the relationship between the church and the state or religion and politics that they have learned from European cultures. We shouldn't forget that not long ago, we were under the yoke of colonialism for over one century. Tunisia is an example of this, from 1981 to 1956, the period of direct colonization, Tunisia has remained for over 50 years under indirect colonization with its western school curricula contradictory to Islam. Therefore, these generations, that were educated on secularism, cannot overnight accept religion as a law or separate it from politics. The solution, as I understood it from Mr Rached El Ghannouchi and his Ennahda brothers is to peacefully coexist with secularists and share power with them, relying on the time factor to convince them of the religion of Islam as a main source for the management of people's political, social and economic affairs and steer them for the better.

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  2. Anonymous thumb

    نوفل الزيتوني 2012-4-16

    Praise be to God Who created universes and depicted humans! I just wonder how this creature would be called if God had created it without reason. Islam has come with knowledge and action. It has come to liberate humans from all forms of hegemony especially the hegemony of the ego and superego. As for yesterday’s fanciful, today’s pretentious, I tell them God the Almighty has endowed the human being with reason so that he can learn His sharia and act accordingly not debate things which only God knows. The challenge of the West to divine legislations cannot and won’t be the basis of the life of Muslims. As for Mr Rached al-Ghannouchi, he has his ideas and he can only spread his ideas among his followers. I say it to the secular and philosophizers like Ghannouchi, I believe so I exist…???

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  3. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2012-4-16

    [2] Continuation to Hakim- … and Anonymous (not to be confused with the other Anonymous): http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/reportage/2011/10/28/reportage-01; and Croyant: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/03/16/feature-01; etc. If that is not the substitution of quantity for quality, they I have no idea what would be. And all of these pseudonyms are used to accomplish two aims: firstly, to use the truth about the destructiveness of globalisation in order to obscure, distort and divert attention from the fact that our leaders – the leaders of the Maghreb, including your own – are actively complicit in this system; and, secondly, to launch into personal insults and accusations against everyone who does not agree with your disinformation and obscurantism. These dictators divert tens of billions of euros in their people’s natural resources and deposit this money in the same states that force this globalisation upon us, all the while thwarting democratic movements in our own countries. They are the pawns and executioners of these globalised powers, and we are their victims just like we are the victims of these globalised powers (since they are in fact two sides of the same coin).

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    Essid 2012-4-16

    [1] To Hakim- You make accusations against me for having posted too many comments and “using quantity to substitute quality”? Just using your beloved phrase “agent in the service of imperialist interests”, we can come up with a list of your pseudonyms. Here is a partial extract of that list: the name Jill: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/01/23/feature-02; and Nazym: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/12/16/feature-04; and Thaouri: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/reportage/2011/07/15/reportage-01; and Aghiles: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/03/30/feature-02; and Kountakinté and Amazigh and Kéké Seissou: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/reportage/2010/03/05/reportage-01. And from these comments, we can learn other examples of your vocabulary that regularly appear in your comments, such as “ultra-liberal capitalism” or “ultra-liberal globalisation” and “hegemony” and “colonisation” all in the same comment. And, this vocabulary proves that you also use the pseudonym Hakim: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/03/09/feature-02; and l”Africain: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/02/09/feature-02; and Chaoui: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/02/08/feature-03; and, again, Amazigh: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/01/18/feature-02; and Maghrébin: http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/11/11/feature-01; and Anonymous (not to be confused with the other Anonymous) …

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  5. Anonymous thumb

    تاجوراء ليبيا 2012-4-12

    Exalted be God! This Ghannouchi reminds me of the hadith of the prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, when he said “there will come deceitful years for people when the liar will be believed and the honest will be disbelieved. The traitor will be trusted and the faithful will be distrusted and the Rouaibida will speak. They asked “what is Rouaibida?” He said “the idle man who talks about public affairs.” The Muslim is not free in his belief, behavior and ideas. They are all associated and subject to the sharia and limits of God about which God the Almighty says, in the name of God the most gracious the most merciful “are the limits (set) by Allah, so approach them not.” There is no power and no will but from God!

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  6. Anonymous thumb

    خير الدين 2012-4-10

    Fear God in o publisher of the article! Such articles offend feelings and include miscreant words and contrary to the religion of Islam. As for Ghannouchi, he is a follower of his masters the Americans and French.

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  7. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2012-4-5

    [1] I would like to respond to (enough sophistry and indoctrination of our people ) يكفي سفسطة ودمغجة على شعبنا!!!, who responded to my comment: Firstly, you said, “The first thing that attracted my attention was your fierce defense of the party (Ennahda party) but you don’t defend patriotism or moral principles while it contradicts the religious reference ‘But they (men) have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in its belief.’ And ‘The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers.’” I think that this statement is unfounded for two reasons: (A) I have asked for one thing: that people stop fixating on labels of “Islamist” and “secularist”, that they stop accepting rumours and misinformation as truth, and that they start discussing ideas in a democratic and peaceful way. I asked this because doing otherwise will only lead to the destruction of our country. It is patriotic and moral to ask your compatriots to love one another and to respect one another without any fetishism on labels and for the good of the country, isn’t it? (B) You are wrong to blame Ennahda for dividing the country into sects. I have discussed this issue elsewhere, so I will not repeat myself here, but it suffices to say that there is a lot of disinformation with concern to Ennahda, and this is far more blameworthy for dividing the country than the policies that Ennahda has adopted.

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    Essid 2012-4-5

    [7] CONTINUATION AND CONCLUSION- With regards to religion, the leadership of Ennahda has limited itself to demanding the equal protection of religious freedoms. It has not thus far made any other demands, and, quite the contrary, has sought an alliance with secular parties. So use that reason that you say you believe in God with. It is wrong to say that all Islamic parties are identical just like it is wrong to say that all liberation fronts are equal. Would you disparage the FLN because the Rwandan Patriotic Front committed genocide? No. So, why make the mistake of likening Ennahda to some other Islamic party. And, do not forget that the original Islam, the Islam of the Prophet, was indeed political since it was the basis for his government. So, was the Prophet “a finger of the imperialist octopus”? And once again, I fully support a secular state. The world, including Tunisia, is too multicultural to handle a theocracy. But, that does not mean that there is no room in a secular democracy for a religious party. The other parties and the people can keep a religious party in check if it tries to overstep its bounds. And while I am not a supporter of this religious party, I also do not support trying to sow discord through lies aimed at a party that, in spite of my vote, won the election democratically. The party won democratically. If the Tunisians do not like this, they can just go vote for another party next election and, in the meantime, they can engage their opposition in peaceful and democratic dialogue and be vigilant to make sure that their voices are heard.

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    Essid 2012-4-5

    [4] CONTINUATION- Fifthly, you said, “But in (6) you say ‘for hundreds and thousands of years, the victory of Ennahda is the most democratic’!!! This statement (except for the measure formality) can ge refuted. For example, the leader Bourguiba won with about 50% at least with the support of the Tunisians ...” Essebsi admitted to rigging elections for Bourguiba, so I don’t think that citing his victory as an example of democracy is fair. Sixthly, you say, “Ennahda represents only a rejected and despicable category in Tunisia (Muslim brotherhood). This is confirmed by the leniency to which your skeikh Ghannouchi was forced concerning article 1 of the constitution!!!” It is wrong to say that Ennahda only represents the despicable and rejected, unless, of course, you are accusing 18% of the Tunisian population of being despicable and rejected, not to mention the percentage of the population that the coalition of Ennahda and the two other secular parties represent. As for Article 1 of the Constitution, it is not leniency to respect religious freedoms. You are confusing Ben Ali’s repression of religious freedoms with true secularism. Ben Ali was not secular. The true one allows for religious organisations to be active in politics just like any other law-abiding organisation. Seventhly, you said, “you say in (3) that the wealth of Bouteflika is about 40 billion dollars. Have you shown any evidence about this?!!!” Here is the evidence: (A) Bouteflika was found guilty of embezzling $12 million between 1965 and 1979. If Bouteflika had invested that money in 1979 just to keep up with inflation, it would now be worth $40 billion.

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    Essid 2012-4-5

    [3] CONTINUATION- Fourthly, you said, “However, it has barely won with 5.1 million voters among eight million voters (half of whom only participated in the elections) and it win only 18% votes of the Tunisian people. This is the truth in figures.” I did not vote for Ennahda, so there is no need to confuse my arguments for advocating support of this party. If it were up to me, this would not be the party in power. However, that is a different discussion, and what we need to talk about is the facts. You are not the first person to point out this figure of 18% - I mentioned it on this forum or another forum, I think – but this is a false debate. Logically speaking, it is not a political party’s responsibility to force people go vote, and this is true regardless of whether or not we are talking about Ennahda or some other party. If people were too lazy or apathetic to go vote, that is their problem and they are reaping what they have sown. Perhaps in the next elections, they will be more inclined to go vote. They do not have the right to slander and groundlessly lambast the election winner or to call for a halt of the democratic process just because they were the losers or they did not go vote. And if these people did not vote because they were boycotting the elections, they should have made their demands clear so that everyone would understand that this was a boycott. This was not the case.

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    Essid 2012-4-5

    [2] CONTINUATION- Secondly, you said, “Moreover, everyone knows how Ennahda used deceit in the name of religion to win elections to the point of (street to street, house to house (5) in circumcision rituals, frivolous collective marriage celebrations and collective buses to attract “spoils” of votes).” This is not the definition of deceit. Deceit would be lying and misinforming the public, which is not what you have just described. This was campaigning. It is normal for a party whose platform is the protection of religious freedoms and honesty in politics to assume that it will find supporters at religious rituals and celebrations. There is no difference between this and a workers party that campaigns at workplaces. Thirdly, you said, “More than this, it has even resorted to scaring people about “disbelievers” dividing Tunisia into Muslims and disbelievers which is considered a treason to both religion and the nation!!!” Either you have had a very different personal interaction with Ennahda supporters, or you are repeating these accusations without verifying them, or you are inventing them. I have never heard Ghannouchi or any other leader of Ennahda call anyone a “disbeliever”. Moreover, I highly doubt this is the case since Ennahda formed a coalition with two secular parties. If you have some evidence of this accusation, please share. After all, you are the one who demanded that I provide evidence (which I will provide momentarily).

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  12. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2012-4-5

    |DUPLICATE 384213|

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  13. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2012-4-4

    [2] Continuation to Hakim- … and Anonymous (not to be confused with the other Anonymous): http://magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/reportage/2011/10/28/reportage-01; and Croyant: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/03/16/feature-01; etc. If that is not the substitution of quantity for quality, they I have no idea what would be. And all of these pseudonyms are used to accomplish one aim: to use the truth about the destructiveness of globalisation in order to obscure, distort and divert attention from the fact that our leaders – the leaders of the Maghreb, including your own – are actively complicit in this system. These dictators divert tens of billions of euros in their people’s natural resources and deposit this money in the same states that force this globalisation upon us, all the while thwarting democratic movements in our own countries. They are the pawns and executioners of these globalised powers, and we are their victims just like we are the victims of these globalised powers (since they are in fact two sides of the same coin).

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  14. Anonymous thumb

    SAHNOUNE ABDELLAH 2012-4-3

    We believe that it is possible to create a conflict between secularism and Islam. If we want to make it compatible with Islam, this is also possible. You are more aware of your earthly needs. The authorized is clear and the banned is clear. We were in Algeria implementing socialism in a way closer to Islam than Saudi Arabia or the Kingdom of Morocco. We used to distribute the wealth of Algeria among the people in a way closer to justice than the capitalist regime which is implemented today in all Arab countries. We work with honesty. But today, they are swallowing us, hell is driving us! Honestly, do you think that the regime in Saudi Arabia is Muslim??

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    zied 2012-4-2

    We need to follow the religion of my God. We must follow the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Follow my Lord, the Guide, and support the slaves against their enemies. May peace be upon you, my brothers in God.

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    الاسلام بريءمن العملاء التكفيريين 2012-4-2

    Bouazizi died oppressed and looking for a dignified life, employment and hope. After a few months, these crows emerged in Tunisia and seized it like a prey to tear apart and cause sedition. Tunisia has become two groups: Muslim and disbeliever. They have imposed the myth of implementing sharia. They are bloody, criminals and enemies of the people. They want to cut members of the body, whipping and killing against poor of the people because most of the rivals are usually sons of the crushed working class. Curse, curse opportunist reactionary and brotherhood.

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    Anonymous 2012-4-2

    If you look for the strongholds of hypocrisy, you will find it in “religion, Ennahda, Salafis and Liberation party…” If you also look for the stronghold of stupidity and idiocy you will find it with them as well. If you look for agents, traitors, plotters with colonizer, you will find it with them as well. If you look for strongholds of terrorism and “sacred” criminality, they are its people and clan. Curse everyone who votes for them or believe them. They are the enemies of the people and humanity. They are enemies of reason and right.

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    Anonymous 2012-3-30

    Anyone who voted for Ennahda is the cause of the ruin of Tunisia. Ghannouchi, Jebali Laarid and others are good to be Muezzins, Imams, a fifth, Friday or even preachers but are not fit for power.

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    من تحزب خان (معمّر) 2012-3-30

    Anyone who fights Islam is a criminal, corrupt, immoral and traitor to the nation and a destructor of conscience. Anyone who becomes extremist and makes of Islam a spearhead which he directs to the breasts of citizens is also a criminal, immoral, corrupt, traitor and destructor of conscience. Islam is the religion of all the people. To anyone who seeks to spread sedition in the name of religion in Tunisia which is totally harmonious, we ask him: what would you do if we had fractions??? Fear God!

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    وحلنا وحلة المنجل في القلة 2012-3-29

    The best solution is abolishing partisanship definitively. Partisanship has caused animosity between sons of the same people. It wasn’t decreed by God. Partisanship is idleness, frivolity and a corruption of the nation and people. The only word (maybe) which was said by the dictator Kadhafi is: everyone who becomes affiliated to a party cheats. However, dictatorship is the only solution to our problems on the condition that the dictator be national like Saddam, Boumediene or Kadhafi.

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    خليها على الله(فريد الاطرش) 2012-3-29

    Civilisation is made by reason and is destroyed by myth. It is made by morals and is destroyed by hypocrisy. It is made by nationalism and is destroyed by infiltration, treason and dependency. It is made by work and is destroyed by begging to “Messassia”.

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    Anonymous 2012-3-28

    As a way of analyzing what is presented by the so-called Ghannouchi on the Tunisian scene as a way of political poisonous deceit to the proud Tunisian people with his field speeches, he wants to put a black cover over the eyes of these people who are still dealing with the wound caused by the traitor runaway so-called coward scared broker Ben Ali who loves corruption and corrupting! I said the wounds have not dried up yet at a time when the former comes to continue his bloody way in a floundering way in his way of addressing the Tunisian people as though he is addressing people who have nothing to do with political life, religious life or civil life required in public life for every Tunisian as well as all the people aspiring to personal and individual public freedom. It is required that we understand the seriousness of such resonating and resounding speeches and remember where this so-called Ghannouchi was immersed and why he has changed his religious speech he was advocating during the era of the camprador Bourguiba and also during the era of the scared traitor runaway Ben Ali. Wasn’t he calling for the implementation of the Islamic Sharia in Tunisia? Has he found the scene empty in Tunisia to come up with this speech in which he balances between the correct Islamic resolution and secularism as a regime which doesn’t respect religion, a regime in which animals are sacred more than the humans! Be careful about this jumble in his sophistical cunning speech. It is the speech of Hajjaj Ben Youssef Taqfi and people like him who are recorded in history and written by those who were oppressed secretly by people aspiring to freedom and correct Islamic emancipation. Thank you for your understanding!

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    يكفي سفسطة ودمغجة على شعبنا!!! 2012-3-28

    To Essid. I am not an advocate of Ennahda or a Salafi. However, I am defending Islam and Arabs. I read what you wrote but in a succinct way as I don’t have much time. The first thing that attracted my attention was your fierce defense of the party (Ennahda party) but you don’t defend patriotism or moral principles while it contradicts the religious reference “But they (men) have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in its belief.” And “The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers.” Moreover, everyone knows how Ennahda used deceit in the name of religion to win elections to the point of (street to street, house to house (5) in circumcision rituals, frivolous collective marriage celebrations and collective buses to attract “spoils” of votes). More than this, it has even resorted to scaring people about “disbelievers” dividing Tunisia into Muslims and disbelievers which is considered a treason to both religion and the nation!!! However, it has barely won with 5.1 million voters among eight million voters (half of whom only participated in the elections) and it win only 18% votes of the Tunisian people. This is the truth in figures. But in (6) you say “for hundreds and thousands of years, the victory of Ennahda is the most democrat!!! This statement (except for the measure formality) can ge refuted. For example, the leader Bourguiba won with about 50% at least, at least, at least of the support of Tunisians while Ennahda represents only a rejected and despicable category in Tunisia (Muslim brotherhood). This is confirmed by the leniency to which your skeikh Ghannouchi was forced concerning article 1 of the constitution!!! Finally, you say in (3) that the wealth of Bouteflika is about 40 billion dollars. Have you shown any evidence about this?!!! Is this not contrary to Qur’an? “O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it,” and the statement of our master Omar “evidence should be produced by the alleger,” especially because such lies were used against Kadhafi and the treacherous rats along with Qataris and imperialism destroyed the life of the safe Libyan people. So are you plotting against Algerian??? Finally, political Islam is just a treason and the finger of the imperialist reactionary conspiracy finger of the octopus. Fear God if you really believe and with reason!!

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    sihem 2012-3-28

    Miserable Rached Ghannouchi, all this fuss in the country this year!

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    Anonymous 2012-3-27

    The last cry in awareness and culture: ignorant Salafis went out in a rally in which they lifted this slogan: No to democracy!!! I ask them, when our master Mohamed (peace and blessings of God be upon him) sent immigrant companions to Ethiopia, hasn’t he told them “go there, they have a king who doesn’t oppress anyone”. So, was there an Islamic sharia in Ethiopia??!! By God, if it weren’t democracy, could anyone of them have been able to express his opinion or even make a rally? To mock philosophy is really philosophy!!! There is no power and no will but from God! Be sure that this sedition is fueled by sides that are hostile to the Arab and Islamic Umma.

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    mohamed28 2012-3-26

    Secularism is a preliminary transitional trend towards atheism as it offers an atmosphere for depravity, degeneration and unauthorized freedom. The unauthorized freedom is the one that allows assaulting principles and “collective” social morals. This pushes society towards conflict, degeneration and unconstructive difference. The Jews of Israel are calling for a religious state conflicting with atheists and seculars inside it. Separating religion from the state was just a call to separate the Christian religion which had negatively affected life. As for Islam, it is a source of a civilization which has lasted over hundreds of years. Yes we have an Islamic economy, a scientific Islamic medicine, the emergence of new sciences under Islam, sociology and autopsy. Islam is an environment favoring thought and economy to progress and develop. What do you think???

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    sim youpir 2012-3-25

    Why before reaching power they say "the solution is Islam, no rule but the Book and Sunna" but when they get close to power, Islam goes in line with all doctrines, policies and world laws? Fear God in us, things have become mixed up for us!

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    مسلمة و كلّي فخر 2012-3-24

    Secularism does not conflict with Islam!!! Hhh! May God make you laugh! The people want another joke!

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    Hakim 2012-3-24

    If they were to take a look at this site, the Algerian officials would have to laugh at the qualification of “propagandist in the service of the government” that has been given to me. But this is the method of this person: attack others for his own flaws. There is no need to have a degree to rightly qualify this person as an agent of the imperialist services. He signs by his own hand his allegiance to them with his comments, which for lack of quality, overdo it on quantity. Quantity does not mask the lack of value of the arguer. On the contrary, it evidences it. All the flaws of this out-dated ideology that he puts out there appear to be dubious, confused, contradictory, lying, insulting and, finally, counterproductive smooth talking. Algeria does not need me to do its propaganda because it has 40 million children ready to defend the legitimate interests of their country, their freedom and their dignity. Propaganda is the art of lying. It is searching to sell that which is not while hiding that which is. And that is the exact definition of the diplomacy of the powers that govern this world. Most notably, these are the diplomats and the propagandists who are trained for this. To get back to the subject, the interpretive framework of this diplomatic language is simple. I am a free man who refuses to defend ideas that are not my own. I have complete contempt for those who spread ideas in exchange for pay no matter what side they are on. As for this prostitution in the service of interests that are planning the enslavement of our peoples, this is direct collaboration with the imperialist war against the interests of their peoples. They are harkis (collaborators) and are disqualifying themselves in the eyes of the people, whom they reject.

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    CitoyenS 2012-3-24

    Ghannouchi’s remarks are just baits. I am convinced that his party is determined to make Tunisia a theocratic state and that there no longer be a state, but extremists and merchants of religion, who will make our country a Tunis-stan. It is disappointing to see a revolution for justice, jobs, dignity and freedom open up a confiscation of all these values and put in place a government that will, day by day, become more and more radical and dictatorial.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [7] Continuation to Hakim- In conclusion, perhaps you should follow your own advice (which you gave under the name Hichem on this forum: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/03/14/feature-02) and stop speaking about the politics of other countries, particularly when you know nothing about the situation on the ground and when you quite clearly have ulterior motives.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [6] Continuation to Hakim- It is just that at this time, after 50 years of dictatorship, hundreds years of colonisation and millennia of living under despots and dictators, many Tunisians are still gaining the political experience to understand where the demarcation resides between a democratically established public morality and an individually held personal morality. But I digress. The main point is that Ennahda won democratically – or at least far more democratically than any other party in the Maghreb has won an election since the end of colonisation. As for Ghannouchi, he has always presented himself as a rather secularist Muslim. His fight had always been against infringement upon religious freedoms by Ben Ali, and this was made clear by his denunciation of Ben Ali’s abuse of “laïcité” to undermine the religious elites, whom he perceived as a threat to his authority. And his work right now to find common ground between Tunisia’s secularists and Islamists now makes it clear that he does have the Tunisians’ interest in his heart and that he does want to establish protection for religious freedoms and a state that embraces Islam, the main religion in Tunisia, without alienating or oppressing believers of other religions and non-believers. Every policy that he has supported has verified this truth.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [5] Continuation to Hakim- Generally speaking, no party has ever paid attention to Tunisians in rural areas, and this rural campaigning accounted for many of Ennahda’s voters. Moreover, Ben Ali had flouted the rights of the Tunisian people for a quarter century. For many of the people who voted for Ennahda, “Islamist” does not mean imposing religious practices on others, but securing religious freedom. And for other people, they would like to see Islam used as a basis for re-establishing “morality” in Tunisia. This is primarily because Ben Ali, who made it clear to the public that he was anything but moral, made himself an enemy of Islam. And for many people, he thus attached the idea of immorality to the lack of Islam instead of the presence of a dictator, which was the real cause of the immorality. As such, many people believe that establishing a government based on Islam will resolve this immorality. This, of course, becomes an issue when we begin to discuss “whose interpretation of morality”. But, as Tunisian people have just proven by their revolution, they are democratic. If they feel that this government is going beyond the limits of public policy and imposing personal morality on the public, they will no doubt stand up for their freedoms and rights. You should have no doubt that the Tunisian people will come to understand the value of separating religion from politics in order to protect themselves from politicians who would infringe upon their religious freedoms and unelected religious elites who would infringe upon their democracy, and this is in spite of your deceitful misinformation.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [4] Continuation to Hakim- And these leaders then proceed to buy (or militarily threaten) our leaders against the interests of our peoples and for the benefit of their masters, the multinationals, by the intermediary of institutions like the World Bank. If you do not believe me, check how much of the natural resources of the countries of the Maghreb are owned by foreign multinationals and countries and check how many loans and grants from the IMF and World Bank “disappear” into the coffers of our leaders. And, I suspect that since there is no actively enforced law controlling the foreign funding of politicians in Tunisia, we will eventually see Ennahda establish the same “business” relations against the interests of the Tunisian people just like the leaders and parties in power in all of the countries of the Maghreb. But, to return to the subject at hand, you have deliberately and with bias neglected to mention that all of the leaders and ruling parties in the Maghreb, including yours, are receiving massive funding from the United States and the EU in one form or another. And if you do the math, this means that none of these parties or leaders are any different than Ennahda in terms of how funding might affect what you call their “roadmap”. Ennahda won the elections, and it won them rather honestly (particularly if you compare them to some other elections in the region). Ennahda was the only party to take voters from rural areas seriously. Supporters and activists of the party went to regions far out in the countryside and they campaigned for the party, and most often they used public transportation to get there.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [3] Continuation to Hakim- Strangely, at the same time, Bouteflika’s wealth increased from the hundreds of millions dollars to over $40 billion and the funds for the FLN and RND leaders increased correspondingly. This was a deceitful way to circumvent laws that control how Algerian politicians receive foreign funding, and Bouteflika, the FLN and the RND have exploited this to its fullest. Moreover, while in exile in France, Bouteflika made tens of millions of dollars by participating in the illegal sale of Algerian resources to the Saudis. He was the go-between for Algeria’s generals, who were diverting the country’s resources into their own pockets, and the Saudi family, who bought the resources for a sub-market price and then resold it on the international market, and, of course, Bouteflika tacked on his own “fee”. Now, do not get me wrong: I am not limiting these just accusations to the Algerian politicians. The same sorts immoral behaviours existed under Ben Ali and his RCD; under Kadhafi, who, as an autocrat, banned political parties; under Mohamed VI and whichever party he allows in Parliament (since according to the fraud of a constitution, he can refuse a seat in Parliament to anyone who criticises his authority); and under all of the Western “superpowers” and the so-called developed world, including China. The leaders of all of these “developed” states are bought and sold by multinational at the expense of the interests of their peoples.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [2] Continuation to Hakim- But, the need for such regulations is not limited to Islamic parties, nor to Ennahda, nor to Tunisia. The truth is that every country in the Maghreb is suffering from a lack of regulation to this regard, and every political party in power in the Maghreb is gravely taking advantage of this lack of regulation (except, in fact, some of the Tunisian parties like Ennahda, which have only just got on their feet, have not yet established these harmful “business” relations or they have only begun to.) But, let us return to your attack on Ennahda for receiving funding from Israel, Qatar, the EU and the United States and for being “Salafi”. As I said above, the truth is that Ennahda has not received any funding from Israel or Qatar. And while Ennahda has received a very minute amount of funding from the EU and the United States through the intermediary of the UN, you fail to mention the sources of funding for the parties in power in your country, the FLN and the RND, and the sources of funding of our president, Bouteflika. I usually refrain from talking about one country’s policies when the topic is another country’s policies, but in this case, it is necessary that I talk about the FLN, RND and Bouteflika in order to demonstrate the hypocrisy and ulterior motives behind your accusations against Ennahda. The FLN, RND and Bouteflika have benefited from massive funding from the EU and the United States and, Bouteflika himself has also benefited from massive funding from the Middle East (namely Saudi Arabia). Under Bouteflika’s reign, much of what had been the people’s resources before Bouteflika was privatised and then sold to European and American multinationals.

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    Essid 2012-3-21

    [1] To Hakim- You lambast Ennahda for receiving funding from Israel, the EU, the United States and Qatar, but you have failed to provide any evidence, let alone to mention how much this funding amounted to or where other parties in power in the Maghreb, including where your FLN and RND, find their funding. Fortunately, I can give you this information. Ennahda has received zero funding from Israel and from Qatar. Both of these accusations are pure, bold-faced lies. Ennahda has received money from international organisations like the UN, which the United States and the EU participate in. So, while Ennahda has received money from the United States and the EU, you are presenting it in a deceitful and dishonest way since it received it from the same organisations that every other country in the Maghreb receives funding from. And other than this money from international organisation, the only money Ennahda receives from the United States and the EU comes from contracts that were concluded under Ben Ali’s regime and from a few French supporters of Ghannouchi – his friends whom he met while he was exiled in France. And, no, these are not the same French persons who led NATO’s airstrikes on Libya. These are most often Tunisian and Maghreb expatriates. And given the unemployment rate in Tunisia, Ennahda would be stupid to cancel any contract that brings money into the country. However, I will agree that there needs to be strict regulations on this funding, namely to ban the use of this money in election campaigns and for the private use and personal gain of politicians.

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    Essid 2012-3-20

    [2] Continuation to Tayeb and the others who speak and think like him- What is more, Ghannouchi stated that he would not run for leader of Ennahda in the next party congress, so you are clearly wrong about his desire to remain in office like the previous dictators.

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    Essid 2012-3-20

    [1] To Tayeb and the others who speak and think like him- You should not believe the lies and propaganda that Ben Ali’s regime spread against Ghannouchi. I am not a supporter of Ghannouchi or Ennahda, but I do respect the truth and I will not allow the truth to be soiled by disinformation. Ghannouchi has always been an advocate of peace and tolerance and he has never declared holy war on anyone. Moreover, his views have always been at least supportive of secularism. Ghannouchi was exiled because he spoke out against Ben Ali, who was deliberately and violently flouting Tunisians' freedom of conscience and religion. Ghannouchi always advocated the freedom of the individual to practice his religion as he sees fit so long as it does not interfere with the freedom of any other individual to do the same. As such, Ghannouchi never advocated imposing his religious ideals on anyone; rather, he advocated the separation of religion and politics so that believers of various faiths and non-believers could co-exist in peace and harmony without the state – which was dictatorial in this case - interfering in their religious lives. Ghannouchi did not retract anything to appease Europe, which, for many of its countries, has no idea what secularism means since they impinge upon personal religious freedoms (particularly, those of Muslims) quite frequently. What Ghannouchi is doing is trying to make the Tunisian public understand that secularism is good for Islam because the people and their religion should not be drowned in the manipulations of politicians.

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    Essid 2012-3-20

    [2] Continuation to علياء من الجزائر- But this is not true secularism. What Ghannouchi is calling for is true secularism. He wants Tunisians to be free to practice their religion to the fullest without interference from the state or interference from demagogic religious elites via the state. And by pointing out that secularism and Islam go hand in hand, Ghannouchi is trying to demonstrate that this artificial quarrel between secularists and Islamists is groundless and destructive. So, either you are deliberately misrepresenting Ghannouchi or you misunderstand what secularism means or you want to impose your religious convictions on others and it angers you that Ghannouchi wants all believers and non-believers to be free to practice their religion as they see fit. In all three of these cases, your comment should be met with extreme doubt and wariness.

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    Essid 2012-3-20

    [1] To علياء من الجزائر- You are misleading when you label Ghannouchi an infidel and an imbecile, especially when you fail to offer any support for your accusations. You do not understand the meaning of secularism, and countries like France and dictators like Ben Ali are largely to blame for this. True secularism – I am not talking about “laïcité”, but secularism – is not what you see in France today or under Ben Ali yesterday. True secularism is the freedom to practice your religion as you see fit so long as you do not interfere with the freedom of anyone else to practice his religion as he sees fit. In other words, it protects religion from interference by politicos and it protects our government from interference by religious demagogues. This is desirable for everyone, regardless of their religion. However, this is not what we see in France today or what we saw under Ben Ali yesterday. Both France and Ben Ali and many other countries and leaders used “laïcité” as a way to prevent people from exercising their religious freedom such as wearing the hijab, which is very much a personal choice that does not affect anyone else. Ben Ali did this because he feared the religious elites. The religious elites represented an alternative to his authority and he feared that they could usurp his power. Sarkozy does this because his electoral campaign boils down to bold-faced xenophobia; he needs to create and foment fear of the “other” (in this case, Muslims) because he can then present himself as the protector of France.

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    عبد المالك صاولي 2012-3-18

    The last phase of intellectual maturity which will be reached by Muslims will be that current conflict will remain simply in the differences of the first level which don’t really cause harm. For example, the fact that Salafia is based on secondary doctrinal issues of which they have made an issue as they have in this an existing structure and reference are signs of backwardness. To this can be added all movements about which you can’t find a clear difference such as the split between Taghyir (change) from the Movement for a Society of Peace in Algeria. There is no real difference between them except responding to some psychological whims. The day will come when they will seek to be united as they were before and as we see today between Ennahda, Al Islah and the Movement for a Society of Peace because their origin –ideological background – is one of the movements which seem to be contradictory because their converging aspects are bigger than their points of divergence. Then we will regret all the time we have wasted before forming one comprehensive unity in the face of atheism first then the opponents of Islamic legislation when we will reach a conviction that the origin of all religions is one but the difference is in the deviation caused by humans to our system of life and distorting our unique constitution. Then the world will be divided into Islam and disbelief. There will be no place for hypocrisy in light of freedom of thought and freedom of faith.

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    Hakim 2012-3-18

    Laïcité is a French concept, strongly marked by the context of a fratricidal and bloody war between two Christian religion, the stakes of which were, as always, power. The neutrality of the state institutionalised in 1905 was supposed to ensure the respect of each of these religions. Evidently, the religious reality of French society in 2012 has evolved over this last half of a century, namely by emphasising the inequality of various religions under this same “laïcité”, which favours Christianity over the others, particularly Islam, which is yet the second religion in France. It would be more judicious to talk about the "separation of politics and religion", which is clearly worded and lacks the ambiguities and contradictions of French “laïcité” – as an incontrovertible principle of governance in the development of societies that have become multicultural. The principle of the equality of citizens before the state, law and institutions presupposes the separation of religion and politics, avoiding the manipulation of both religion and politics by each other. Ghannouchi is pledging what his “sponsors require” and is, for the instant, installing himself in and consolidating power. He treats problems one at a time. His approach is heavily marked by the will and the plans of the ones who finance Ennahda (Israel, the EU, the USA and Qatar), this justifies wariness and the rejection of the citizens on his side, who, up to this moment, have not presented any independent and credible economic, political or social plans given that they do not challenge "ultra-liberal globalisation", which threatens our peoples in the front line and which the Western peoples themselves are denouncing. This globalisation annihilates the power and sows unemployment, pillage and war.

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    أنيس 2012-3-17

    You’re so odd Ghannouchi of end of times! Haven’t you spent your life in prisons and exile for Islam? Why have you changed today? Is it because you are chief of the ruling party or are you brushing up the face of your movement for coming elections or has power influenced your Islam? So please leave politics and keep on your Jihad for Islam which will help you before God.

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    misnathrached 2012-3-16

    Ghannouchi has learned the lesson of Abbas Madani. Mr Ghannouchi only changed his form to get there, but the substance remains the same.

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    younes 2012-3-16

    The land is the land of God, slaves are the slaves of God and legislation is the right of God.

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    علياء من الجزائر 2012-3-15

    By God o Ghannouchi, you have no shame and you are the non-believer of the age. You have spent your life in Tunisia and in exile calling for democracy and Islam. From your ideological theses, you seem to have suffered an intellectual failure, you ideological imbecile and non-believer.

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    عمر العزيز 2012-3-15

    Michel, my darling, you are a minister of what, a minister of economy? I was pleased to read your comment. I admire you so much. By the way, I have a very important distributor for you…

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    رابح 2012-3-14

    The land is the land of God, servants are servants of God and legislation is the right of God and if you seek something different??

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    amourmerpassion 2012-3-14

    A Muslim knows that God is protecting him while an Islamist believes that he is the one protecting God!!!

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    ahmedsfax 2012-3-14

    This is something neat. How much we need such ideas and analysis by Ghannouchi!

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    tayeb 2012-3-13

    Mr Ghannouchi once declared a holy war against the Tunisians who advocated secularism. Today, now that he has gotten power, he is retracting this for a few reasons: firstly, to make the Europeans and other Americans trust him, which is a deceitful manoeuvre on his part; secondly, as a strategy for the Islamists not to be bothered by the "West"; and, thirdly, to keep power as long as the dictators did.

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    عمر العزيز 2012-3-12

    No one acts for the interests of the people except the people themselves. One day, these people will be capable of controlling their fates.

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    boujemaa 2012-3-12

    The late Hassan II provided the response to this statement from Ghannouchi on the subject of secularism and Islam during one of his interviews. There, he essentially said that the head of a state who calls himself Muslim cannot be secular.

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    Michel THYS 2012-3-10

    Ghannouchi’s words seem reassuring, but in order to do this, the majority of Muslims both here and elsewhere would need to accept that Allah is not the only god and, more importantly, that the miscreants and believers of other religions and nonbelievers should not be exterminated like the Qur’an literally requires. Abdessatar Akrimi was evidently wrong to think that “every person is free in his convictions”. If this were the case and if everyone could choose to believe or not to believe according to their full knowledge of the facts, there would logically be as many believers as non-believers. Under the pretext of tolerance and neutrality, and thus by consent of the constitution, religious belief, particularly Muslim religious belief, is, alas, injected in childhood in the absence of any critical thinking.

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