Tunis, Tunisia – Rached Ghannouchi finds himself behind bars this week, leaving the Tunisian opposition chief’s daughter anxious for his well being, and his get together anxious about what occurs subsequent.
“They insisted that he will be held for 48 hours with out attorneys current,” Yusra Ghannouchi stated, detailing her father’s preliminary interrogation on Monday.
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied had chosen one of many holiest nights on the Islamic calendar to make his newest transfer towards the Tunisian opposition – the twenty seventh of Ramadan. Ghannouchi was detained, and the places of work of his self-described “Muslim Democrat” Ennahda get together, in addition to the opposition coalition Nationwide Salvation Entrance, had been shut.
The ostensible cause for Ghannouchi’s detention was a video wherein he made feedback warning concerning the potential for civil conflict if Tunisia’s varied political currents, together with political Islam and leftists, had been excluded.
The authorities have responded by charging Ghannouchi with “conspiracy towards state safety”, and have saved him in jail on pre-trial detention.
Yusra Ghannouchi stated her father’s phrases have been taken out of context to create the costs.
“My father said that one of many most important successes of the Nationwide Salvation Entrance is to transcend political and ideological polarisation, [he said:] ‘anybody imagining Tunisia with out this or that group, a Tunisia with out Ennadha, with out political Islam, with out the left or any of its parts, can be laying the bottom for civil conflict’,” Yusra Ghannouchi stated.
Tunisian political essayist Hatem Nafti stated Saied used the chance of Rached Ghannouchi elevating the prospect of a civil conflict to justify his arrest, one which had been used to crack down on the opposition underneath Tunisia’s former chief, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
“Ben Ali eradicated the Islamists underneath the pretext of stopping a civil conflict,” stated Nafti.
Saied’s supporters have additionally seized on the feedback.
“Personally, I’m for [Ghannouchi’s] arrest,” stated Oussama Aoudit, a frontrunner within the nationalist Echaab get together. “It’s an implicit name for this partisan to exit and begin a civil conflict. He needs to destroy everybody who took half within the [political] actions since July 25 .”
Saied, who turned president in 2019, with the backing of Ennahda, dissolved the democratically-elected parliament on July 25, 2021, and has since seized extra energy for himself, together with by altering the nation’s structure. His opponents have decried his strikes as being a part of a coup.
Ahmed Gaaloul, Ghannouchi’s chief adviser, advised Al Jazeera he fears the newest episode is one other step in direction of banning Ennahda fully.
“There isn’t a systematic harassment of get together members … [but they live] in a psychological state of terror,” Gaaloul stated.
“Every part you ship or obtain, and even ship to a journalist, might be used as proof of some conspiracy,” he added.
A straightforward goal
Monica Marks, assistant professor of Center East Politics at NYU Abu Dhabi, stated Saied had taken benefit of Ghannouchi’s declining reputation lately, notably amongst many Tunisian secularists.
“[They have] accepted what has ostensibly been a collection of authoritarian strikes by Saied since July 25, 2021,” Marks stated.
Marks added Ghannouchi’s arrest has been “the crimson meat that Saied’s supporters have been yearning for a while. This buys him a while, particularly on the Tunisian left, who’ve been suspicious of Ghannouchi for many years”.
Whereas the arrest of Ghannouchi, a former longtime exile who solely returned to Tunisia following the overthrow of Ben Ali in 2011, has been welcomed in some quarters, a former high official of the secular Nidaa Tounes get together believes that it’ll solely improve the notion internationally that Tunisia is headed down a darkish path.
“This path will strengthen the isolation of the Tunisian regime internally and externally, and can lead Tunisia into the unknown,” stated Khaled Chouket, who additionally served as a minister. “It is a harmful indication that issues are slipping within the route of putting political pluralism and proscribing public freedoms and human rights.”
Chouket famous to Al Jazeera that Saied had failed on his guarantees to fight corruption and enhance social welfare, and as a substitute centered on arresting political opponents, “creating a picture that frightens traders at house and overseas, along with the hate speech that continues to divide Tunisians”.
Marks, in the meantime, stated Western nations are too involved with combating migration and the specter of Russia and China establishing bases within the Mediterranean, so “won’t push for political pluralism or supporting human rights in Tunisia”.
“Saied’s populist undertaking is the tip of politics,” stated Natfi. “It isn’t simply the tip of political events, but in addition dangers the tip of civil society, associations and unions.”