Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism

By Azzam S. Tamimi | Go to book overview

3
The Question of Democracy

In the privacy of his prison cell, from June 1980 to August 1984, Ghannouchi had ample time to reflect on his past. The past twenty years had taken him through significant stages of maturation. They saw his migration from a North African model of Arabism to a Mashariqi form of Islamism and eventually to a specifically Tunisian, or Magharibi, form of Islamism. The last combined what he deemed to be the best aspects of the various experiences to which he had been exposed and excluded those aspects he deemed irrelevant to his Tunisian environment. The amplitude of time behind the prison walls, and the moderate conditions and reasonable treatment afforded to him—following the cessation of torture and painful flogging during the initial period of interrogation—seemed a gift from the heavens. Despite the limitedness of space, this was a golden opportunity for him to research a topic of great importance, the question of public liberties, and there was no better way to do this in the given circumstances than to write a book.

He regarded the agony of his first imprisonment to be an offer of destiny because it uprooted him from the tumult of recurring daily problems, and hurled him into a state of incessant work to respond to the challenge. 1 He spent two full years in hectic work to absorb all that he could lay a hand on of relevant references. In spite of his incarceration, he was allowed—thanks to the sympathy and tolerance exhibited by some of the prison guards—to bring in the books and references he requested. He undertook a number of projects, one of which was to study a translation of a book on women by Roger Garaudy, which inspired him—together with his recent experience in Sudan—to write a treatise on women's rights and on the status of women inside the Islamic movement. Garaudy's book in Arabic bore the title of Fi-Sabil Irtiqa' al-Mar'ah (In the cause of the progress of the woman). 2 But the more important projects had been his translation of a booklet authored by Malik Bennabi entitled Al-Islam Wad-Dimuqratiyah (Islam and democracy), and starting the project of writing his most important work, Al-Hurriyat al'Ammah Fid-Dawlah al-Islamiyyah (Public liberties in the Islamic state). Some of Ghannouchi's writings while serving his prison sentence, including his translation of Bennabi's treatise, 3 were published under the pseudonym of Mu'adh as-Sabir. Publications bearing this pseudonym included a booklet on Palestine entitled Al-Qadiyah al-

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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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