Reuters is reporting that the Tunisian Ennahda party last week put up a candidate for presidential elections for the first time. According to the report, the party has chosen its vice president Abdel Fattah Mourou, described as “one of Ennahda’s most moderate leaders”. According to the report:
Tunisia’s biggest political party Ennahda named a candidate for presidential elections on Tuesday, the first time the moderate Islamist party has put up a nominee for the post since the country transitioned to democracy after the 2011 revolution. Party vice president Abdel Fattah Mourou, 71, a lawyer, will run in elections due to be held two months early on Sept. 15 following the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi last month. […] One of Ennahda’s most moderate leaders, Mourou has long demanded reforms to the party to make it more open and to distance it from the Muslim Brotherhood in other Arab countries.Critics say Mourou is two-faced, however, and holds contradictory positions on the role of the Islam in society.“Mourou is a highly regarded figure in Tunisia, he is able to unite Tunisians and to find consensus between rivals. This is what Tunisia needs now,” Imed Khmiri, a senior Ennahda official, told Reuters.Mourou is currently acting speaker of parliament after former speaker Mohamed Ennaceur became interim president.Tunisia’s president mainly has authority over foreign and defense policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.”
The Ennahda Party is essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia and Abdel Fattah Mourou is not only the party’s vice president but also one of its co-founders. While he has been described by some sources as a member of the “moderate” wing of Ennahda, Mourou has a long history of engagement with the Global Muslim Brotherhood (GMB) including
- Mourou held shares in the now-defunct Al Taqwa Bank which was set up by GMB leaders Youssef Nada and Ghaleb Himmat and included Youssef Qaradawi as the head of its Shariah Board. (See Note 1) Mourou is mentioned three times in Nada’s 1999 phone book.
- In May 2011, the GMBDW reported that Mourou participated in the 9th Palestinians in Europe Conference in Wuppertal, Germany. The conference was organized by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), part of the Hamas support network in the UK and, as always, featured leaders from Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
- In December 2012, convention materials indicate that Mourou attended the 11th joint convention of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), both part of the US Muslim Brotherhood.
- In March 2015, Tunisian media reported that Mourou met with Qaradawi to speak about “the place of Islam in the West and about “Islamizing” non-Muslims.
- In October 2016, Austrian governments sources report that Mourou was among the guests of honor at the 27th Palestine in Austria conference. The conference was organized by the Vienna-based Coordination Council for the Support of Palestine (KFUP), headed by Adel Abdallah who is one of the leaders of the Hamas support structure in Austria.
- In November 2017, an Israeli NGO reports that Mourou gave a lecture in the Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Virginia, which has close ties to the US Muslim Brotherhood.
In May 2016, the GMBDW reported that according to its leader Ennahda would be relinquishing the label of ‘Political Islam’ and hence forward seek to define itself as a democratic and civil movement, whose values are ’Islamic and modern civilization’. However, as a Carnegie report observes:
Following the 2016 congress, Ennahda officials declared that it had become a party of “Muslim democrats” for whom religion functioned as a moral inspiration rather than a comprehensive, ideological vision of the world, as Islamist movements frequently do. In reality, the outcome was more a division of labor than a clear break between party and movement. Members preferred to talk about specialization, meaning that the political and religious sides of Ennahda each specialized in their own fields. A parliamentarian illustrated this by comparing the separation between the party’s political and dawa activities with that in European left-wing parties between the parties and their trade union activities. Ennahda members who favored proselytism were free to pursue this within society. Those more interested in party politics were encouraged to be involved in governance issues.
The Ennahda Party of Tunisia is headed by Rachid Ghannouchi (many spelling variations) who can best be described as an independent Islamist power center who is strongly tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and with a long record of extremism and support for terrorism.
(Note 1- based on confidential documents)