Rached Ghannouchi on Islamic reformism

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Rached Ghannouchi espouses a more progressive understanding of Islamic reformism, especially in finding creative ways of tackling social social injustice.

Rached-Ghannouchi - Photo credit: timesofmalta.com

According to Wikipedia, “he underscores the importance of local culture, and an Islamist movement based in the needs of Tunisians and not in ‘the obscure theories of Sayyid Qutb’. He has sided with worker’s rights, unionism, and women’s education and rights, though those rights are based in Islam and not Western liberal feminism”.

He is a Tunisian Islamist who contributed to the founding of the Ḥizb al‐Nahḍah, the Tunisian Renaissance Party.

The following is an excerpt from a recent interview by the Financial Times just before a new unity government was formed in Tunisia:

FT: Are you in contact with the other leaders in the opposition? Have you been consulting with them?

RG:
We as a member of the October 18 movement which we founded in 2005 and it brings together parties and civil society institutions, including Nejib Chebbi from the Progressive Democratic Party, the Tunisian Communist Workers Party, and the Conference for the Republic and other human rights organisations. This was founded in 2005 for one simple demand: to call for freedom of expression and association for everyone and for recognising the rights of all parties.

Later when we developed this coalition, to elaborate this joint intellectual basis we produced several papers which all members of this movement agree on and embrace. The first was a paper on philosophical pluralism. There is no limit to pluralism except not embracing violence, and giving the rights to anyone to found the party.

The second was the rights of women because the government used to always say to frighten people away that (the Islamists) will take away the rights of women. Then we had to reassure others in this coalition who were being accused of working with the Islamists. And we all recognise, we accept the personal status code and will not cancel it or refuse it. Indeed we had expressed this since 1988 on 17 July where I made a statement in which I recognised the personal status code.

Another paper was on the freedom of conscience, to address the allegations that Islamists will be using the punishment for apostasy and will kill people for what they believe. The paper recognised that Tunisians have the freedom to believe in anything, to leave or embrace any faith, as faith is a personal matter. On the basis of these papers the coalition moved from no longer being a short-term political coalition, but a social project for society.

For the Tunisia that we are working for, one in which women enjoy equality, people can establish and join any party and they have the freedom to believe any faith.

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