Tunisia’s Islamist party slams anti-Semitic chants
It’s a start, but it’s imperative that they figure out a way to rein in or (preferably) marginalize the ultra-conservative Salafi types as quickly as possible.
TUNIS, Tunisia — The head of Tunisia’s moderate Islamic party condemned anti-Semitic slogans chanted Monday by a handful of ultraconservative Muslims during the arrival of a top Hamas official that have alarmed the local Jewish community.
Rachid Ghannouchi reiterated the policy of his Ennahda party, which heads the country’s new government, that Tunisia’s Jews are ‘full citizens with equal rights and duties.’
‘Ennahda condemns these slogans which do not represent Islam’s spirit or teachings, and considers those who raised them as a marginal group,’ Ghannouchi said in a statement.
Videos circulated online showed crowd members greeting Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Gaza government, at the airport in Tunis on Thursday chanting ‘Kill the Jews’ and ‘Crush the Jews.’ The chants came from Salafists, ultraconservative Muslims who have been making their presence felt in Tunisia recently.
‘It is worse then bad, it is catastrophic for Tunisia — particularly in regard to the repercussions that these attitudes provoke abroad,’ Roger Bismuth, president of Tunisia’s Jewish community, told The Associated Press.
Ennahda was at first slow to condemn their actions, earning the criticism of leftist and liberal groups which already regard the Islamist party with suspicion.
‘I think if Ennahda doesn’t come up with some way of being unequivocal in its rejection of some of these ideas and tactics it really does risk damaging its credibility with some of its coalition partners, progressive voters and international donors,’ said Chris Alexander, an expert on Tunisia from North Carolina’s Davidson College, noting the danger of the party’s slow response up until now.