A European media report has provided further details on the return to Tunisia of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi who compared his views to those of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to the report:
The leader of a Tunisian Islamist party returned home yesterday after two decades in exile in London, saying that critics should not compare him to the father of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and should accept his views are more moderate. “Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, but that’s not me,” Rachid Ghanouchi said after returning to his North African country, where thousands of people welcomed him at the airport, some shouting “God is great!” Mr Ghanouchi and about 70 other exiled members of Ennahdha, or Renaissance, flew home from Britain two weeks after autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power by violent protests. During 23 years in power, Ben Ali cracked down on opponents, including proponents of political Islam, jailing them and sending many into exile. Amid protests, Ben Ali was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia on 14 January. With Ben Ali gone, Ennahdha has moved to carve out a place in the political scene, taking part in demonstrations and meeting the prime minister. While Ennahdha was branded a terrorist group by Ben Ali, it is considered moderate by scholars. Though the ban on the party hasn’t officially been lifted, the new interim government has been more tolerant of it. Mr Ghanouchi said he is not interested in running in elections expected in months. “I am not going to run for president, nor as a minister nor a parliamentarian,” he said. He compared his views to those of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite Erdogan’s Islamist roots, he has been widely viewed as a pragmatist largely loyal to the legacy of Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who sought to create a secular, modern state.
It should be noted that a new report titled “Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla” warns:
There is strong evidence for Turkish governmental involvement in the Gaza flotilla incident, with Turkish government support channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The IHH was not acting alone but rather was an integral part of a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network.
An Egyptian news report has identified Rashid Ghannouchi (many spelling variations) as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood “abroad.” Ghannouchi is the leader in-exile 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 by 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 Al-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.
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