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HomeGeopolitical CompassNile Valley & N.AfricaRached Ghannouchi’s test: Political Islam and democracy in Tunisia

Rached Ghannouchi’s test: Political Islam and democracy in Tunisia

Author: Shaul Bartal

Affiliation: Bar-Ilan University

Organization/Publisher: Taylor & Francis Online

Date/Place: March, 2020/U.K.

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 7010


Keywords: Political Islam, Democracy, Arab Spring, Sunni Islam.


The article advocates Tunisia as a success of the Arab Spring in changing governmental administration from within. Although Tunisia, a Muslim-Sunni majority state,  lacked a democratic tradition since its independence in 1956, it has since accepted the manifestation of democracy and secular parties, and now best exemplifies how Islamic parties and minority parties can contest in a multi-party democracy. Ghannouchi’s ideological beliefs which are reflected in his writings are flexible enough to lead his party to become a model for states with a Sunni Islamic majority. Ghannouchi became an influential figure in Islamic philosophy during his exile in London. His writings reflected his strong belief in democratic values and Islam’s acceptance for democratic values. This is how he broadened the principle of shura and made a distinction between the religious layer of carrying out Islamic law and the political layer of establishing and running a state. Ghannouchi’s democratic state is not a heretical regime as Salafi elements explore, but on the contrary is a regime that retains and is based on Islamic principles. On his return to Tunisia in 2011, Ghannouchi’s democratic outlook proved deep, in terms of practice. Ennahda, (Rachid Ghannouchi’s political Party) contested elections in the various ruling coalition’s; they defeated and accepted their defeat. The embracing of these democratic procedures and the establishment of the Tunisian constitution led the Nobel Peace Prize committee to grant the members of the constitutional committee of Tunisia the Nobel Prize in 2015. 


By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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