Is the Ennahda Government Soft on Salafists?

In an interview with El-Khabar, Tunisian political analyst Najib Belgouri says that the struggle between the Salafists and the rest of Tunisian society is escalating. He blames the Ennahda-led government, Moustafa Dali writes, for being too lenient because of “electoral reasons.” 

al-monitor Salafist and secular students clash at the Humanities and Literature Faculty in Manouba University 29/11/2011. Photo by REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi.

Topics covered

violence, sidi bouzid, salafists, najib belgouri, ennahda

May 24, 2012

On May 22, Tunisian media and political analyst Najib Belgouri told El-Khabar in a phone conversation that “the struggle between the Salafists and the rest of Tunisian society is currently escalating.'' He elaborated, “The Salafist groups can only exercise violence, because they do not believe in elections or a peaceful devolution of power, and they [plan] to impose a fait accompli on Tunisian society.”

Belgouri accused the Ennahda-led government of being soft with the Salafists in regards to their violations. He added that “the government is not firm with the Salafists,” and relayed descriptions from young people of Salafists burning bars and alcohol shops in Sidi Bouzid. Sidi Bouzid is the site of the revolution’s first sparks. Belgouri attributed what he called the ruling party’s leniency with the Salafists to “electoral reasons.” According to him, Ennahda wants to take advantage of the electoral reserves represented by the Salafists, especially since their movement is constantly expanding.

The Ennahda-led government has licensed the establishment of a Salafist party, and Belgouri thinks that this may be the start of Salafist integration into the political process. However, this depends on if they can abide by the rules of democracy and not forcefully impose their own logic onto other Tunisians. He stressed that only the State, and not any other party, is entitled to exercise violence in order to enforce the law.

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