Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism

By Azzam S. Tamimi | Go to book overview

2
The Journey to Democracy

The seventies were the decade in which Ghannouchi's political thought developed. The ten years from 1970 to 1980 were to witness the undoing of some of his earlier persuasions and the making of new ones. A number of influences, sometimes working concurrently and sometimes consecutively, combined to transform Ghannouchi into an Islamic democrat. This chapter will seek to explore these influences and explain the manner in which they contributed to Ghannouchi's intellectual transformation.


Change of Plans

After visiting his family in the south of Tunisia, and on his way back to Paris to pursue his studies, Ghannouchi decided to pay a visit to the az-Zaytouna mosque, his first visit ever to this ancient shrine. Until then, he was still determined to heed the advice of alAlbani, namely not to settle in Tunisia because it had become un-Islamic. To his great astonishment, inside the mosque he saw a study circle comprised of a shaykh surrounded by scores of persons, mainly children and old people. Among them, he saw a young man whom he had never met before but to whom he was attracted because his presence inside the mosque, or of anyone his age, seemed odd. Ghannouchi approached the young man, asked him his name, and appealed for an explanation. Why would a young man want to be in the mosque?, Ghannouchi asked. It wasn't surprising to see old people in the mosque, but children and young men were a surprise. It was not true then that Islam had been uprooted. After few exchanges, Ghannouchi accompanied the young man to another mosque in the neighborhood, where he was introduced to a circle run by a five-member Tabligh community established one year earlier by a Pakistani mission. The group included Abdel Fattah Moro, who had been a student of law and who later was to co-found Harakat al-Ittijah al-Islami—the Islamic Tendency Movement (MTI)—with Ghannouchi in 1981. Moro was to become MTI's secretary general and Ghannouchi its president.

What Ghannouchi had seen represented for him a glimpse of hope; perhaps an Islamic future awaited Tunisia. This was for him a sufficient reason to abandon his plan of

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Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Religion and Global Politics *
  • Title Page *
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents *
  • Rachid Ghannouchi *
  • 1 - From Qabis to Paris 3
  • 2 - The Journey to Democracy 30
  • 3 - The Question of Democracy 63
  • 4 - Secularism 105
  • 5 - Civil Society 125
  • 6 - The Territorial State and the New World Order 154
  • 7 - Islamist Obstacles to Democracy 182
  • 8 - Ghannouchi's Detractors 200
  • Conclusion 215
  • Notes 221
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 259
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