Western media is reporting that Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rashid Ghannouchi was the star speaker at the 2011 annual meeting of the Union Des Organisations Islamiques De France (UOIF), representing the Muslim Brotherhood in France. According to a Yahoo News report:
Mon Apr 25, 2:07 pm ET PARIS – A noted Tunisian Islamic thinker urged the world’s Muslims on Monday to reject extremism and restore the true nature of Islam. Rachid Ghanouchi, a founder of Tunisia’s once-banned Ennahdha, or Renaissance, party, gave the closing speech at an annual Muslim gathering outside Paris in his first visit to France in more than two decades. Extremism takes root in injustice, but must be fought, he said. ‘Today, Islam is associated with violence, terrorism … with refusing religious and political diversity, (being) against women’s rights. Today, it is presented as a plague,’ Ghanouchi said. But, he insisted, extremism ‘isn’t a legitimate child of Islam. … Our challenge is to respond to restore the image of Islam.’ He spoke in Arabic through a translator to a crowd of several thousand at the annual meeting of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, which brings together Muslim fundamentalist associations…..He was the star speaker at the four-day gathering and his speech drew cheers from a crowd that feels unfairly targeted by French authorities enforcing the nation’s secular foundations, including the recent ban on burqa-style veils. Only a tiny minority of Muslims wear them, and few were seen at Monday’s meeting. Ennahdha, made legal in Tunisia on March 1, is now among more than 50 political parties formed since Ben Ali fled. Ghanouchi said the Tunisian revolution, which has sparked uprisings in the Arab world, succeeded because values were shared by an entire population, underscoring the importance of social cohesion. The same case applies to Egypt, which ousted President Hosni Mubarak, he said. On the other hand, ‘One cannot imagine that an entire people or nation’ follows extremist thought, he said, adding that Islam ‘insists on balance’ and ‘finding the middle path.’ There are abiding concerns that Islamists in Tunisia could undo women’s rights in the North African country or impose a strict Islamic code. However, Ghanouchi insisted that ‘Islam marries well with democracy’ and respect for equality between men and women.”
Earlier posts reported on the return of Mr. Ghannouchi to Tunisia following his long exile in the UK.
An Egyptian news report has identified Rashid Ghannouchi (many spelling variations) as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood “abroad.” Ghannouchi is the leader of the Tunisian Islamist movement known as Nahada (aka Ennahda, Al Nahda) and can best be described as an independent Islamist power center who is tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood though his membership in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and his important position in the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), both organizations led by Global Muslim Brotherhood Youssef Qaradawi. Al-Ghannouchi is also one of the founding members of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi organization closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and dedicated to the propagation of “Wahabist” Islam throughout the world. Ghannouchi is known for his thinking on the issue of Islam and citizenship rights.
In 1994, scholar Martin Kramer reported on the extremist background of Mr. Ghannouchi. According to that report:
Assuming a valid distinction can be made between Islamists who are “extremist” and “reformist,” Ghannouchi clearly belongs to the first category. Since his last visit to the United States, he has openly threatened U.S. interests, supported Iraq against the United States and campaigned against the Arab-Israeli peace process. Indeed, Ghannouchi in exile has personified the rejection of U.S. policies, even as he dispatches missives to the State Department.
Kramer notes the following statement by Mr. Ghannouchi in which he alleges that Jews are being a “worldwide campaign against Islam”:
The Jews everywhere are behind a worldwide campaign against Islam. Islam and the West could reach an accommodation, he says, were it not for the worldwide machinations of the Jews, who fan the fires of mistrust. Beware the Jews, he admonishes the West: “We Islamists hope that the West is not carried away by the Jewish strategy of linking the future of its relationship with the Islamic world with a war against Islam.
In an article posted on an Islamic website, Mr. Ghannouchi wrote:
Zionism can be seen as hostile to every element rooted in ethical and religious principles (excepting those remnants, which can be exploited as slogans and national myths). It both represents and serves the new existential ethos which transforms the human race into ‘marketing’ and ‘geopolitical’ units which can be deployed, rewarded or punished by the powers that be, who are accountable to no-one save themselves. Zionism, then, nurtured by and in turn nurturing this global pseudo-civilization, represents a secular onslaught on the heart of our Islamic nation. The Islamic project, by contrast, is its polar opposite, representing the hope that human civilization can be rescued from this new worship of the golden calf. To speak of saving Palestine from the Zionists is to speak simultaneously of one’s hope for a global liberation. The ‘Palestinian cause’ does not signify the simple reconquest of a patch of territory occupied by aggressors. It is not even about peace and war; Its implications go much further. For to strike at Zionism in Palestine is to strike at the enemy in its new citadel, which it has constructed at the centre of the world, in the very heart of our Muslim nation, in a land which has always been of unlimited strategic and spiritual fecundity. The West, as a civilization, seems set to extend its influence to the heartland of the Old World, the better to destroy the surviving traces of spiritual resistance which have remained intact there, and finally to obliterate mans remaining hopes for the rebirth of a civilization which is qualitative and humane, rather than quantitative and secular.”
Mr. Ghannouchi has a long history of association with extremism and Palestinian terrorism. From 1988-92, the Islamic Committee for Palestine organized conferences and rallies in the United States that featured the leading lights of Islamic extremist movements throughout the world. One example of such a conference took place in Chicago from December 22-25, 1989 and featured Mr. Gahannouchi as a speaker. Its theme was “Palestine, Intifada, and Horizons of Islamic Renaissance” and other speakers included Abd Al-‘Aziz Al’Awda, the “spiritual leader” of Islamic Jihad and Muhammad ‘Umar of Hizb Al-Tahrir, the Islamic Liberation Party.
In 2002, Mr. Ghannouchi co-signed a statement that said “The bodies of the men and women of Palestine are shields against the Zionist agenda, which its greater target is to destroy the entire Islamic Ummah.” The statement was also signed by:
- Mustafa Mashhour, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood
- Esam Al Atar, leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood
- Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General for Hezbollah
- Ahmed Yassin, the late former spiritual leader of Hamas