Sudanese media is reporting that Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi has joined Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi in pressing Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir to release former Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood leader Hassan Turabi from prison. According to a Sudan Tribune report:
Ghannouchi was in town where he took part in a conference hosted by Sudan on Jerusalem which saw participation of many delegations from around the world particularly from Arab and Islamic countries. Sudan official news agency (SUNA) quoted Ghannouchi as saying that the meeting was “frank” and “brotherly” and tackled the situation in the Arab world particularly in light of recent popular revolutions which he described as a new form of liberation and overcoming internal problems. The Islamist leader said that the revolutions made the region inch closer to Arab unity. The uprising in Tunisia set off mass protests across a region governed for decades by monarchs and presidents. Largely peaceful demonstrations toppled Egypt’s president, while a revolt in Libya has turned bloody as Muammar Gaddafi clings to power after four decades as leader. Ghannouchi’s party, banned for two decades, until this week is aspiring to play a political role as the country’s undergoes transition. The Sudanese president made remarks last month saying that the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes collapsed because they suppressed the Islamist movements in their countries. Bashir came to power through a coup in 1989 with the support of the National Islamic Front (NIF) led by Hassan Al-Turabi but the pair fell out following the introduction of a bill to limit the president’s powers in 1999, a move which the president resisted by dissolving parliament and declaring a state of emergency. He was in an out of jail the whole time after splitting ranks with Bashir over accusations ranging from staging a coup attempt to standing behind the rebellion that broke out in Darfur. In January, Sudanese authorities arrested Turabi again and he remains detained without charges. Sources told Sudan Tribune that Ghannouchi pressed Sudanese officials on the release of Turabi stressing he has not been accused of any crime and that given his age it is “un-Islamic” to keep in prison. He was joined in his position by Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal, Jordanian Islamist figure Laith Shubailat and Egyptian Islamic theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi reportedly cancelled his previously announced visit to Sudan to protest the continued detention of Turabi. (ST)
Hassan Turabi was involved in the past as a leader in the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood and is probably best known as the man who invited Osama bin Laden to live in Khartoum during the 1990s when Sudan was both a center for terrorist activity and strongly under the influence of Turabi.The BBC has published a profile of Turabi which can be found here.
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 Al-Ghannouchi. According to that report:
The 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.
The Jerusalem Foundation conference identified in the Sudan Tribune report was discussed in earlier posts.