Tunisia's Ennahda movement to focus on politics, abandon proselytising

Tunisia's Ennahda movement to focus on politics, abandon proselytising
2 min read
11 May, 2016
The Islamist Ennahda movement is to become a strictly political party and leave proselytising and other social activities to civil society organisations, the group's leader announced on Saturday.
Ennahda's leader made the surprise announcement on Saturday [Anadolu]

Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda movement is to become a strictly political party and abandon its proselytising activities, the group's leader Rached Ghannouchi announced on Saturday.

"We are going to shift to a political party that devotes itself to political action and reform within the state, and leaves other matters to civil society organisations," Ghannouchi said during a press conference on the sidelines of the 46th session of the Ennahda Shura Council in Hammamet.

Zubair al-Shahudi, a member of Ennahda's Shura Council told the Huffington Post Arabic that the decision to transition into a strictly political party has been approved by a majority of Shura Council members.

"We will focus on political work and leave social activities including cultural and charitable activities for civil society organisations," he added.

The decision still needs the approval of Ennahda's general conference, which is due to be held later this month, in order to take effect.

The surprise decision means that the Islamist movement is to end all of its educational and charitable activities, which are used to advocate the group's religious ideology.

If approved, Ennahda would be the first Islamist movement in the Arab world to have adopted a self-imposed ban on proselytising.

Jamal al-Tahir, another member of the group's Shura Council told BBC Arabic that Ennahda has a developmental plan that entails "political specialisation".

"The time is now right for this plan, and this decision is in line with the new constitution," added Tahir referring to a new constitutional clause that bans political parties from having civic and charitable activities.

The movement has stressed that the decision does not mean it will abandon its Islamic roots and framework.

Ennahda, which was banned under the country' longtime dictator Zine el-Abdine Ben Ali, is currently the largest party in parliament after Nidaa Tounes lost its majority due to the resignation of 22 of its lawmakers.