Rashid al-Ghannushi

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Not to be confused with Mohamed Ghannouchi.
Rashid al-Ghannushi
راشد الغنوشي
Ghannouchi.png
Born June 1941 (age 73)
El Hamma, Tunisia
Alma mater Cairo University
Damascus University
Political party
En-Nahda Movement
Religion Sunni Islam

Rashid al-Ghannushi, whose name is also transliterated as Rachid al-Ghannouchi or Rached al-Ghannouchi, based on the French transliteration (راشد الغنوشي, Rāšid al-Ġannūšī[1]), and whose birth-name is Rashid Khriji (راشد الخريجي),[2] is a Tunisian politician, born in 1941, who co-founded the En-Nahda Movement, currently the largest party in Tunisia.

He has been called the party's "intellectual leader".[3] He is one of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers, writing on Islam and modernity, democracy and secularism, relations between East and West, human rights and civil society and his writings have had an influence on political and religious thought across the Arab and Muslim worlds. He was named as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012[4] and Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers[5] and was awarded the Chatham House Prize 2012 (alongside Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki) by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, for "the successful compromises each achieved during Tunisia's democratic transition".[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Al-Ghannushi was born outside El Hamma, in the Qabis province of southern Tunisia. He received his certificate of attainment degree, equivalent to the Baccalauréat, in 1962 from the University of Zaytuna. He entered the school of agriculture at Cairo University in 1964 but, following the expulsion of Tunisians from Egypt, he left for Syria. He studied philosophy at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1968.

Spelling conventions[edit]

As with many names transliterated from Arabic, there is no single, definitive English language rendering of al-Ghannushi's name. The form Rashid al-Ghannushi is the most conventional rendering of the Arabic script for English-speakers. However, in an article he wrote for the London newspaper The Guardian in 2013, after 20 years of exile in the United Kingdom, he signed himself under the by-line Rachid al-Ghannouchi. This is the form adopted by leading global broadcasters such as the BBC and al-Jazeera. This is a French-based form, and the script is merely a rendering of the same Arabic words, so the pronunciation is essentially unchanged. Tunisia was a French Protectorate when the subject of this article was at school and the influence is still strong, so French orthography is customary for Tunisians rendering names into a Latin script. In practice, though, many Tunisians pronounce several vowels as an e sound, and so the leading think-tank Chatham House, amongst many others prefers the form Rached al-Ghannouchi.

By the same token, the political party can be described, with or without the preceding definite article, as: the Nahda Party (Anglicized), al-Nahda (purist, but rare), an-Nahda (eliding the article as is normal in Arabic, and so the most conventional form across the Arab world), en-Nahda (the form that recognizes the local Tunisian pronunciation, and therefore the form generally preferred), or even Ennahda (running noun and article together).

Islamic Tendency Movement[edit]

In April 1981 Al-Ghannushi founded the "al-ittijah al-islami" or Islamic Tendency Movement. The Movement described itself as specifically rooted in non-violent Islam, and called for a "reconstruction of economic life on a more equitable basis, the end of single-party politics and the acceptance of political pluralism and democracy." By the end of July, Al-Ghannushi and his followers were arrested, sentenced to eleven years in prison in Bizerte, and were tortured. Both the religious and secular community, including numerous secular political organizations, rallied in his support.[8] He was released in 1984, but returned to prison in 1987 with a life sentence, then was again released in 1988. He moved to Europe as a political exile, where he lived for decades.[3]

He attended The Islamic Committee for Palestine conference in Chicago in 1989.[9] Following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Al-Ghannushi denounced King Fahd of Saudi Arabia for the "colossal crime" of inviting the U.S. to deploy forces.[10] He also called for a Muslim boycott of American goods, planes and ships.[10]

Rachid Al-Ghannouchi speaking in an Islamist rally circa 1980.

Al-Ghannushi continued to criticise Tunisian politics and the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.[1] Following popular unrest in which Ben Ali was ousted, Ghannushi returned to Tunisia on 30 January 2011, after spending twenty two years exiled in London .[11]

BBC apology in 2013[edit]

On 17 May 2013, the BBC published an apology on their website for previously publishing inaccurate statements about Ghannushi six months earlier on 21 November 2012.[12] The article had accused Ghannushi of threatened to order troops on to the streets if the En-Nahda Party did not get the results he expected in the elections in 2011, and suggested he condoned the violent Salafist attack on the United States embassy and the burning of the American School in Tunis in September 2012.[12] Acknowledging that none of these accusations and suggestions were in fact true, the retraction concluded: "The BBC apologises to Mr Ghannouchi for these mistakes and for the distress they caused him."[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kirkpatrick, David D.; Fahim, Kareem (18 January 2011). "More Officials Quit in Tunisia Amid Protests". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Turess Press. "إلى الأستاذ راشد الخريجي (حركة النهضة)". Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Feldman, Noah (2011-10-30). "Islamists’ Victory in Tunisia a Win for Democracy: Noah Feldman". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  4. ^ Time Magazine (18 April 2012). "TIME 100: The List". Time Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Foreign Policy. "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers 2011". 
  6. ^ Chatham House. "Chatham House Prize 2012". 
  7. ^ Ghannouchi, Rached. "Transcript of speech at Chatham House Prize 2012 awards ceremony, 26 November 2012". 
  8. ^ Linda G. Jones, "Portrait of Rashid Al-Ghannoushi" Middle East Report, No. 153 (July–August 1988).
  9. ^ "Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine". 
  10. ^ a b "A U.S. Visa for Rachid Ghannouchi?". 
  11. ^ "راشد الغنوشي زعيم حركة النهضة يعود إلى تونس اليوم بعد 20 عاما في المنفى". Asharq Al-Awsat. 30 January 2011.  (Arabic)
  12. ^ a b c "Apology to Rached Ghannouchi". BBC.co.uk. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Tamimi, Azzam (2001). Rachid Ghannouchi: a democrat within Islamism. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514000-1. 
  • Saeed, Abdullah (1999). "Rethinking citizenship rights of non-Muslims in an Islamic State; Rashid al-Gannushi's contribution to the evolving debate". Islam and Christian Muslim Relations 10 (3): 307–323 [p. 311]. 
  • alhiwar.net 6.5.2007
  • Jones, Linda G. (1988). "Portrait of Rashid al-Ghannoushi". Islam and the State. Middle East Report 153. New York: Middle East Research and Information Project. pp. 19–22. 
  • al-Ghannoushi, Rashid & Jones, Linda G. (1988). "Deficiencies in the Islamic Movement". Islam and the State. Middle East Report 153. New York: Middle East Research and Information Project. pp. 23–24. 

External links[edit]