Home > Radical Islam, Wars and Rumors of War > ‘A New Cycle of Civilization’: Tunisia’s Islamists Hail Arrival of the ‘Sixth Caliphate’

‘A New Cycle of Civilization’: Tunisia’s Islamists Hail Arrival of the ‘Sixth Caliphate’

By Jonathan Mitchell – “The Islamist politician likely to become Tunisia’s first democratically elected prime minister has alarmed liberals and secularists by claiming the arrival of the ‘sixth caliphate’, a controversial term for a Muslim empire.

Hamadi Jebeli, secretary-general of Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party which romped to victory in last month’s elections, told a rally in the city of Sousse: ‘My brothers, you are at a historic moment in a new cycle of civilisation, God willing. We are in sixth caliphate, God willing.’

Party officials, who have spent months insisting they wanted to pursue secular democratic politics rather than an international Islamist agenda, were forced on the defensive after his comments were posted on the internet.

But they may have scuppered the party’s hopes of forging a broad-based coalition. The left-of-centre secular Ettakatol, which came third in the vote, suspended talks with Ennahda over forming a government.

‘We thought we were going to build a second republic with our partner – not a sixth caliphate,’ Khemais Ksila, a senior member, said.

Mr Jebeli was imprisoned under the dictatorship of Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali for his Islamist beliefs. But since the country’s revolution in January, the party has argued it wants to work within a democratic political system along western lines.

The stance was enough to see them win 40 per cent of seats in parliament, more even than their supporters expected. But opponents say their moderate public statements hide a more radical agenda …” Read more.

Tunisia’s Islamist party showing signs of radical shift – “Many Tunisians loathed Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorship for its unchecked corruption and allergy to genuine democracy, but his toppled regime once stood out as an Arab state with a progressive approach to gender equality. Souad Abdelrahim, the sole female member of Ennahda not to wear a headscarf, last week sparked concern that the party might seek to curb women’s rights. She said single mothers were ‘inconceivable in an Arab Muslim state’ and added ‘they must marry’ in order to attain full rights… Ben Younes, who runs a Tunisian foreign policy journal, recalled Ennahda’s efforts to reassure moderates after the election, notably targeting potential investors and womens’ rights groups. ‘The more they reassure us, the more they worry us,’ he said.” Read more.

Flashback: Muslim Brotherhood Leader of Tunisia Calls for an End to Israel – “Arab media has reported an interview with Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi in which he calls for and predicts the end of Israel… Ghannouchi maintains that altogether the Arab revolutions are positive for the Palestinians, and threaten to bring Israel to an end. He says that the Palestinian problem lies at the heart of the Nation [umma], and that all the land between the mosque in Mecca and Jerusalem represents the heart of the Islamic Nation…” Read more.

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