Tunisia: Islamists Lose Elections Heralding Geopolitical Shift

Tunisian voters expressed excitement about the elections.

Tunisian voters expressed excitement about the elections.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Arab Spring first started becoming the “Islamist Winter” when elections in Tunisia were won by Ennahda, essentially the country’s Muslim Brotherhood branch. The Islamists have since fallen out of favor amongst the population and have conceded victory to secularists in the latest elections.

Preliminary results show that Nidaa Tounes, a secular party opposed to Islamism, has taken about 83 seats by winning 38% of the vote, whereas Ennahda won 68 seats and about 31% of the vote. Another projection put Nidaa Tounes with 37% and Ennahda with 28%.

In addition, the secular-minded “Free Patriotic Union” won 17 seats with 7% of the vote and the left-wing “Popular Front” alliance won 12 seats with 5% of the vote. Altogether, the major secular blocs won 50% of the vote to Ennahda’s roughly 30%. This doesn’t even include tiny secular forces among the remaining 20% of the vote.

This is a far cry from when Ennahda won with a plurality of about 41% thanks to divisions among its secular rivals. Ennahda’s founder, Rachid Ghannouchi, is a terrorism-supporting radical who secretly conspires with Salafist Islamists, yet maintains celebrity status among major Muslim-American groups and even Yale University.

Just as was the case with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ennahda faltered when it had to actually govern until finally, last year, the Ennahda-led government was forced to resign under heavy public pressure.

Remarkably, the transitional government rejected efforts to citesharia or the Quran and Sunna in the constitution as the source of legislation, instead defining the nation as a “civil” republic. It does state that Islam is the state religion—something that will be demanded by any Muslim-majority population today—but contains protective provisions to check potential abuse of that.

The Tunisian government included amendments that ban incitement of religious violence, takfirism (the labeling of Muslims as apostates) and demand political neutrality from mosques. Other amendments guarantee religious freedom, gender equality and the “liberty of conscience and belief.”

The election could have geopolitical consequences.

The Middle East is currently divided into three blocs. Tunisia may now join the anti-Muslim Brotherhood/anti-Iran bloc that includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and the Libyan government (that only controls part of the country).

The second bloc consists of Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Qatar.

The Israeli Defense Minister accurately labeled Turkey and Qatar as the “leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood Axis.” He also confirmedthat Hamas has a command center in Turkey and Qatar is a knownterrorism-financing hub. Turkey’s knee-deep involvement with Islamist extremists includes towing a soft line on the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), enabling the terrorist group to penetrate Turkish territory even now.

The third bloc consists of Iran, the Houthis who have captured the capital of Yemen, the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, various Iraqi Shiite militias and, to a large degree, the Iraqi government.

There are two proxy wars being fought between the blocs. One is in Syria and the other is in Libya, with the Iran-led bloc staying out of the latter. Tunisia could impact Libya, which is being torn apart by a civil war between Islamists and secularists.

Read more at Clarion Project

Juan Cole’s ‘New Arab’ Fantasies

juan-cole-450x307by Andrew Harrod:

The “advent of a new generation” of Arabs was the overly optimistic theme for University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole’s recent lecture at the George Washington University Elliot School of International Relations.  Cole’s discussion of his new bookThe New Arabs:  How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East, to an audience of about fifty, mostly Elliot School students, failed to substantiate his ongoing hopes for the so-called Arab Spring.

Elliot School professor Edward W. (Skip) Gnehm introduced Cole as a Middle East expert who is popular on television, a supposedly confidence inspiring credential. Cole focused on Tunisia, noting that this comparatively small North African country with no oil resources had received “insufficient press.”  His main concern was “youth revolutionaries,” as the Arab press termed Arab Spring regime opponents in Libya, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

Cole began by claiming that a “relatively successful . . . transition away from authoritarianism” under the “Ben Ali clique,” who were “basically bank robbers,” had marked Tunisia’s Arab Spring.  Nonetheless, Tunisia is still “on a tightrope,” he added, as some Tunisian regions are prone to violence and Tunisia’s neighbor Libya also presents dangers.  The “Mad Max-like scenes of post-apocalyptic horror” previously described in Cole’s writings “have . . . dashed” the Arab Spring’s “bright hopes” in Libya and elsewhere.  Elliot School professor William Lawrence noted in a post-lecture conversation that Libya’s parliament has now fled the capital Tripoli for a Greek car ferry moored in Tobruk.  However, in December 2011, Cole stated erroneously that the “Libyan Revolution has largely succeeded, and this is a moment of celebration.”

Cole contrasted Libya with Tunisia, calling the new 2014 Tunisian constitution “very good on paper” and “very nicely worded.”  The “secularists won” in defeating attempts to codify sharia, which Cole dubiously compared to Catholic canon law, as well as a gender “complementarity” clause.  “The feminists in the room know what that means,” Cole said of the latter, before equating the “party of the Muslim religious right,” Tunisia’s Islamist, pro-jihadist Ennahda Party, initial supporter of both measures, with American conservatives.

But Cole conveniently omitted key passages of Tunisia’s constitution, including the opening traditional Islamic invocation, “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”  Other passages stipulate Tunisia’s “Islamic-Arab identity” and “civilizational affiliation to the Arab-Islamic nation.”  The preamble also supports “just liberation movements . . . against all forms of occupation and racism,” whose “forefront . . . is the Palestinian liberation movement.”  Article 1, which “cannot be amended,” further proclaims that Tunisia’s “religion is Islam” while Article 6 denotes state duty “to protect the sacred.”

Read more at Frontpage

State Department designates 3 Ansar al Sharia organizations, leaders

By THOMAS JOSCELYN:

The US State Department announced today that it has added three chapters of Ansar al Sharia, as well as three of the groups’ leaders, to the government’s terrorist designation lists. Ansar al Sharia groups in Benghazi, Derna, and Tunisia were designated as foreign terrorist organizations, as well as specially designated global terrorist entities.

The three Ansar al Sharia leaders, Sufian Ben Qumu, Ahmed Abu Khattalah, and Seifallah Ben Hassine (a.k.a. Abu Iyad al Tunisi), were also added to the list of specially designated global terrorists.

Ben Qumu is described as “the leader” of Ansar al Sharia Derna, while Khattalah is “a senior leader” of Ansar al Sharia in Benghazi. Seifallah Ben Hassine is the founder of Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia.

The State Department says that Ansar al Sharia “is ideologically aligned with al Qaeda and tied to its affiliates, including AQIM” (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). The designation confirms The Long War Journal’s reporting on Ansar al Sharia Tunisia’s connections to the al Qaeda network.

Attacks on US Mission and Annex in Benghazi, US Embassy in Tunis

AQAP's tenth edition of Inspire magazine featured the September 2012 assaults on US diplomatic facilities.

AQAP’s tenth edition of Inspire magazine featured the September 2012 assaults on US diplomatic facilities.

All three Ansar al Sharia organizations were involved in assaults on US diplomatic facilities in September 2012.

The Ansar al Sharia groups in Derna and Benghazi were both “involved” in the “September 11, 2012 attacks against the U.S. Special Mission and Annex in Benghazi, Libya,” the State designation said.

US intelligence officials have previously told The Long War Journal that some of Ben Qumu’s men took part in the Benghazi attack. The US government has reportedly issued a sealed indictment against Khattalah because of his alleged role in the assault.

Three days later, on Sept. 14, 2012, Ansar al Sharia Tunisia was “involved” in the “attack against the US Embassy and American school in Tunis, which put the lives of over one hundred United States employees in the Embassy at risk.”

The State Department previously reported on Ben Hassine’s role in the Sept. 14 attack in Tunis. In its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, published in May 2013, Foggy Bottom noted that Ben Hassine “was implicated as the mastermind behind the September 14 attack on the US Embassy,” which involved “a mob of 2,000 – 3,000″ people, “including individuals affiliated with the militant organization Ansar al Sharia.”

Al Qaeda has praised the September 2012 assaults on US diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Cairo, Sanaa, and Tunis. In November 2012, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri released an audio message praising the assaults as “defeats” for the US.

“They were defeated in Iraq and they are withdrawing from Afghanistan, and their ambassador in Benghazi was killed and the flags of their embassies were lowered in Cairo and Sanaa, and in their places were raised the flags of tawhid [monotheism] and jihad,” Zawahiri said in the message, which was translated the SITE Intelligence Group.

The 10th edition of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine celebrated the September 2012 attacks. The cover picture showed a black flag, similar to those used by al Qaeda-affiliated groups, being raised in front of one of the embassies. The feature article was titled, “We Are All Usama,” a reference to the chant heard in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

None of the suspected terrorists responsible for the attacks in Benghazi or Tunis have been brought to justice. In its new designation, the State Department says the US government “is committed to taking all appropriate actions against the organizations and individuals responsible for the attacks against the US diplomatic facilities in Libya and Tunisia.”

Al Qaeda-tied biographies

Two of the three jihadists named in today’s designation, Sufian Ben Qumu and Seifallah Ben Hassine, have had strong ties to the al Qaeda network throughout their careers. Both have been previously profiled by The Long War Journal. [See, for example, LWJ reports Al Qaeda ally orchestrated assault on US Embassy in Tunis and Ex-Gitmo detainee reportedly tied to consulate attack.]

Read more at Long War Journal

New Poll of Muslim Countries Finds Large Support for Terrorists

Hamas5BY RYAN MAURO:

A new Pew poll of 11 Muslim countries shows that Islamist terrorist groups still command double-digit support, with Hamas being looked upon favorably by about one-third of respondents. About one-fourth do not have an opinion of the terrorists, leaving them up for grabs in the ideological war.

The poll found that overall Muslim support for acts of violence against civilians in the name of Islam has dropped over the last decade, while concern about Islamic extremism has risen. About 67% are concerned about extremism in their faith and 27% are unconcerned.

The 11 countries surveyed are: Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey.

The country with the worst trend is Turkey. It is the only country where support for suicide bombings has increased.

About 13% supported the tactic in 2012 and 16% support it today, but this small increase doesn’t tell the whole story. In 2011, Turkish support for suicide bombing was at 7%. This means that support for suicide bombing more than doubled in the past two years.

Hamas is the most popular of the terrorist groups. Almost one-third (32%) of Muslims surveyed have a positive opinion of it and 45% have an unfavorable view.

The countries most supportive of Hamas are Egypt and the Palestinian Territories (48% support) and Lebanon and Tunisia (46%). The countries most hostile are Turkey (5%), Senegal (11%) and Pakistan (12%).

Hezbollah is the runner-up in terms of popularity. Overall, 26% of the Muslim world supports Hezbollah. About 42% have an unfavorable opinion. This is still an impressing showing because Hezbollah is a Shiite terrorist group. Even though 90% of the Muslim world is Sunni and Hezbollah kills Sunnis, it still has a large pool of support.

The countries most supportive of Hezbollah are Lebanon (46%), the Palestinian Territories (43%) and Malaysia and Tunisia (35%). The countries most hostile to Hezbollah are Turkey (7%), Senegal (10%) and Pakistan (15%).

Read more at Clarion Project

 

Unprecedented: Islamists Agree to Cede Power in Tunisia

Tunisia

The decisive factor in defeating the Islamists in Tunisia was that all their opponents worked together.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Islamists thought that their ascent to power in Tunisia and Egypt as a result of the “Arab Spring” heralded their glory days. Less than three years later, those gains have been lost. The Islamist Ennahda Party that ruled Tunisia has agreed to step down, as demanded by hordes of anti-Islamist demonstrators.

The Clarion Project has been closely following the anti-Islamist wavethat is sweeping across the region, presently in Egypt, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Turkey. Now, it has swept Ennahda from power, essentially the Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring first began.

Protests against the Ennahda in Tunisia escalated after the second assassination of a prominent secular opposition figure. While there was no proof that Ennahda carried it out, the evidence pointed to an Al-Qaeda-type Salafist hand.

But Tunisians recognize what many leaders in the West do not: That Islamists are all part of the same pattern, only shaded with different colors.

The approval rating of Ennahda had collapsed. A Pew poll published earlier this month found that Tunisia’s most disliked leader was Rashid Ghannouchi, one of the founders of the Ennahda Party. Ghannouchi garnered a disapproval rating of close to 56% (with only 34% viewing him favorably). Ennahda itself lost a quarter of its popularity.

Read more at The Clarion Project

Arab Spring End: Tunisia’s Ruling Islamists Fall

reu-tunisia-crisis_protests-450x265FPM, By Daniel Greenfield:

Despite being the wellspring of the Arab Spring, Tunisia hasn’t gotten much attention. But the counterrevolution that took down the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt really began in Tunisia.

Back in October of last year, I predicted that Egypt and Tunisia were both headed for Counterrevolutions against Islamist rule. The revolution in Egypt happened and the protests and unrest in Tunisia has been growing.

Now events are approaching the endgame.

Tunisia’s ruling Islamists rejected on Monday a plan for them to step down pending elections, deepening a confrontation with secular opponents that threatens the most promising democratic transition to have emerged from the Arab Spring.

The Islamist government that replaced Tunisia’s longtime ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali had on Thursday cautiously agreed to talks on stepping down, after reading opposition protests as a sign it is time to compromise instead of digging in.

On Monday it appeared to take a step back.

“We cannot accept the threat of pressure from the streets,” said Ennahda vice president Adb el Hamid Jelassi. “There should be more guarantees.”

Stubbornness was the undoing of its affiliate in Egypt – the Muslim Brotherhood which won office through the ballot box after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak but alienated the masses and the army by refusing to share power.

“We have said that this government would not step down concretely before the completion of the constitution,” Rafik Abd Essalem, a senior Ennahda official, told reporters.

Of course they intend to lock in the constitution first. That’s their endgame. But the Morsi constitution is already being rewritten. No reason that the Ennahda one can’t be.

UPDATE: Ennahda down.

Tunisia’s governing Islamist party has agreed to step down following negotiations with opposition parties that begin next week.

A spokesman for the main labor union said months of talks with the Islamist-led government had finally reached an agreement Saturday. Bouali Mbarki of the UGTT union said the deal calls for three weeks of negotiations to appoint an interim, non-partisan government.

Sex Jihad and Western Disbelief

x_72fbf0afBy: Raymond Ibrahim:

The sex jihad is back in the news.  Last Thursday, during an address to the National Constituent Assembly, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Bin Jeddo announced that Tunisian girls who had traveled to Syria to perform “sex jihad” had returned after being sexually “swapped between 20, 30, and 100 rebels and they come back bearing the fruit of sexual contacts [from pregnancies to diseases] in the name of sexual jihad and we are silent doing nothing and standing idle.”

Sixteen-year-old Rahma: Her parents appeared in tears on TV bemoaning how she was “brainwashed” to join the sex jihad.

Sixteen-year-old Rahma: Her parents appeared in tears on TV bemoaning how she was “brainwashed” to join the sex jihad.

Several video interviews with Tunisian females who went to the sex jihad further testify to the veracity of this phenomenon.  For example, 19-year-old Lamia, upon returning, confessed how she was made to have sex with countless men—including Pakistanis, Afghanis, Libyans, Tunisians, Iraqis, Saudis, Somalis, and a Yemeni, all in the context of the “sex jihad, and that she and many other women were abused, beaten, and forced to do things “that contradict all sense of human worth.”  Now back in Tunisia, Lamia has been to a doctor finding that she is five months pregnant. Both she and her unborn are carrying the aids virus (read her whole story).

Other interviewed women have told of how they were “fooled,” or how their husbands (they being one of four wives) divorced and sent them to Syria for the sex jihad, with assurances that they would be guaranteed paradise in the afterlife.  One 16-year-old explained how her father ordered her to have sex with several jihadi “liberators.”

Due to the severity of this matter, since March, 6,000 Tunisians were banned from travelling to Syria; 86 individuals suspected of forming “cells” to send Tunisian youth to Syria have been arrested.

Back in April, Sheikh Othman Battikh, former Mufti of Tunisia, said before reporters that, “For Jihad in Syria, they are now pushing girls to go there. 13 young girls have been sent for sexual jihad. What is this? This is called prostitution. It is moral educational corruption.”

He was dismissed from his position as Mufti of Tunisia days later.

However, as I wrote back in June when reporting on the sex jihad phenomenon:

Muslim women prostituting themselves in this case is being considered a legitimate jihad because such women are making sacrifices—their chastity, their dignity—in order to help apparently sexually-frustrated jihadis better focus on the war to empower Islam in Syria.

And it is prostitution—for they are promised payment, albeit in the afterlife. The Koran declares that “Allah has purchased of the believers their persons [their bodies] and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain (Yusuf Ali trans. 9:111).

At any rate, while news that Muslim girls in hijabs are prostituting themselves in the name of Islam may be instinctively dismissed as a “hoax,” the fact is, Islamic clerics regularly issue fatwas permitting forbidden, if not bizarre, things.

The fundamental criterion is that they help the jihad to empower Islam.

For instance, not only did the original “underwear bomber” Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri hide explosives in his rectum to assassinate Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef—they met in 2009 after the 22-year-old Asiri “feigned repentance for his jihadi views”—but, according to Shi’ite talk-show host Abdullah Al-Khallaf, he had fellow jihadis sodomize him to “widen” his anus to fit more explosives.

Read more at Human Events

A Bad Week For the Muslim Brotherhood

Two weeks ago Muslim Brotherhood leaders from across Africa and the Middle East gathered in Istanbul to regroup following the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, former head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (and who I noted previously here was recruited into the group while studying in the US). But even more setbacks suffered by the group in a number of countries this past week, another meeting might be in order.

Here’s a rundown of the week’s events:

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Egypt: The most prominent example, the MB there rejected calls for reconciliation meetings by the interim government and demanded Morsi’s reinstatement as president before any negotiations. That’s not remotely likely. So that set the stage this week for a game of chicken, with the MB refusing to stand down and Defense Minister Sisi calling for rallies yesterday in support of the interim government, ostensibly to legitimize a crackdown on a terror campaign being waged by Morsi supporters against police and military targets in the Sinai. Of note is the statement last week by senior MB leader that the terrorist acts would stop when Morsi would be reinstated, indicating some degree of MB control over the terror cells.

The result yesterday were massive rallies supporting both sides, predominately backing the new anti-MB government with as many as 35 million taking the streets in support of the army despite a fatwa issued by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the senior international MB jurist prohibiting participation in the protests. Those protests led to a series of clashes last night and this morning that have reportedly left dozens dead. Meanwhile, Morsi was charged with murder and other crimes by the new government this week, and will probably be sent to the same prison currently housing former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.

The MB strategy appears to be leveraging the deaths of supporters killed during nearly continuous clashes with the police and army to gain domestic and international sympathy. Yet that doesn’t seem to be happening. Some clashes in which MB supporters were killed have not been with the government, but residents of the areas occupied by the MB protests. And assaults on Egyptian and foreign journalists alike by Morsi supporters and news reports of torture and killing of so-called ‘infiltrators’ at the MB protests aren’t helping either.

And while the MB might have temporarily taken comfort in the Obama administration’s decision this week to halt the transfer of a few F-16 aircraft to the Egyptian military (though the administration continued such military hardware transfers while Morsi declared himself dictator in November and was killing protesters earlier this year), any hope of backing their ‘legitimacy’ campaign were dashed when administration officials said that no determination will probably be made as to whether Morsi’s ouster was a coup or not, which would trigger sanctions against the Egyptian military under a law passed by Congress last year.

So the MB doesn’t appear to be gaining support, and the majority of Egyptians appear willing to hold their nose over the violence against the MB while the army and the police attempt to create some stability. The result will be an increase in the violence and more deaths, and probably the low-grade terrorism in the Sinai will also escalate into more acts of terrorism prompting greater crackdowns.

Gaza: Another big loser in Morsi’s overthrow is the Hamas government in Gaza. In recent weeks the Egyptian military has put a stranglehold on trafficking through tunnels, which provides Hamas with considerable funds. A UN estimate this week said that 80 percent of the traffic through the tunnels running from Egypt into Gaza has been shut down. The Hamas economic minister said the Egyptian crackdown has cost the terror group $230 million – one tenth of the gross domestic product of Gaza. Things aren’t likely to improve with the Egyptian government either, as one of the charges against former President Morsi is collaboration with Hamas in his prison escape back in 2011

Read more at PJ Media

Tunisia assassination spells trouble for Islamist-led government, say analysts

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement demonstrate as they chants slogans and hold a picture of assassinated politician Mohammed Brahmi during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, July 26, 2013. (AP / Amine Landoulsi) Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/tunisia-assassination-spells-trouble-for-islamist-led-government-say-analysts-1.1384422#ixzz2aHUhNJwu

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement demonstrate as they chants slogans and hold a picture of assassinated politician Mohammed Brahmi during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, July 26, 2013. (AP / Amine Landoulsi)

(AP)TUNIS, Tunisia — The assassination of a second opposition politician in six months has piled the pressure on Tunisia’s troubled Islamist-led coalition government, which came to power in the wake of the Arab Spring but is struggling to right the economy and rein in extremists.

With the country brought to a virtual standstill by a general strike and the revelation that the same gun was apparently used by an al-Qaida-linked Islamist extremist cell in the two assassinations, calls grew Friday for the 18-month-old transitional government to stand down.

On Friday six opposition parties holding 42 seats announced their withdrawal from the 217-seat national assembly and called for the government, elected in the aftermath of the overthrow of the country’s long-time dictator, to be replaced by a national unity government tasked with finishing off the constitution and paving the way for fresh elections.

“We are withdrawing from the constituent assembly, which has lost its credibility, and are calling for the dissolution of a government that has failed, and tomorrow we will engage in an open sit-in in front of the assembly until it is dissolved,” the parties announced in a statement issued during a late-night press conference.

Tunisia is considered the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Its revolution inspired pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East and set an example for political co-operation when a coalition was formed between the Islamist Ennahda Party and two secular parties.

However, a troubled economy, rising Islamist extremists and the two political slayings have tarnished the government and fueled opposition calls for its dissolution.

“The assassination of Mohammed Brahmi is a failure of the government and a failure of its security policy,” said political analyst Alaya Allani. “I think most of the political elite feel it is urgent after the assassination to dissolve the current government and replace it with a non-partisan, competent one.”

The government’s failure was driven home, said Allani, when the Interior Minister revealed in a press conference that not only was the same radical Islamist group behind the two assassinations, but that the same gun was used.

Lotfi Ben Jeddou said the gun used to shoot leftist politician Brahmi 14 times in front of his home was the same 9mm semi-automatic pistol that killed opposition politician Chokri Belaid back in February.

Brahmi’s assailant was Boubakr Hakim, a 30-year-old weapons smuggler with Islamist sympathies who was also part of the al-Qaida-linked cell that assassinated Belaid, according to Ben Jeddou.

Critics of the government have wondered why after five months Belaid’s killers had still not been brought to justice and worse that the assassinations were continuing.

The opposition has accused Ennahda of being overly tolerant of a rising radical Islamist trend in the country that has shown violent tendencies in its efforts to instil greater piety in what has long been known as one of the most secular countries in the Arab world.

The killing of Brahmi of the leftist Popular Current comes at a particularly sensitive time as Tunisia’s drawn out transition is finally reaching its end with the debate on the constitution and amid rising hopes that fresh elections will be held by the end of the year.

To pass the constitution, which is still being hotly debated in the assembly, a two-thirds majority is required.

“It’s high time to take into account what the population and different opposition groups are saying about how this government has failed to protect Tunisians,” said Kamel Labidi, an analyst and free speech activist who expressed worry that the Islamists might not compromise. “I am afraid the hardliners in the Islamist movement are not inclined generally to work with anyone to lead the country toward democracy.”

After the assassination of Belaid, anti-government protests erupted and Hamadi Jebali, the prime minister at the time suggested the formation of a government of technocrats. His own party rejected his offer and Jebali resigned.

In the wake of the latest assassination, Ennahda has remained firm once again in its insistence on remaining in power until the transition is completed and new elections held.

Read more at CTV News

 

MEMRI: Tunisian MP Rabiaa Najlaoui: Islam Preceded Islamists and Will Continue to Exist When They Are Gone:

 

Rabiaa Najlaoui: “[The draft constitution] lays the foundations for a religious state, which will permit the forbidden under the guise of religion. I ask you to stop exploiting the sentiments of the Tunisians. By God, I am ashamed to see you trying to delude the people into believing that you are speaking on behalf of Islam, that you are the protectors of Islam, and that Islam will cease to exist when you are gone.

“By God, we were Muslims before you came to power, we are Muslims even without you, and we will continue to be Muslims after you are gone. If Islam is the reason that you are clinging to power – let me tell you that you can leave and be confident that Islam is fine. Islam did not collapse when the Prophet Muhammad died, and it will not collapse when you are gone.

[…]

“I’d like to make it clear: This is the constitution of the Ennahda movement, and it was shaped according to their whims and political considerations. Articles 72 and 73 are the best proof of this. To my colleagues I say: This constitution belongs to the generations to come. I ask you not to pass on your hatred and your exclusionary conduct to the generation that we hope will carry the torch and be much better than us.

“The constitution should be drafted in keeping with the international human rights treaties to which Tunisia is a signatory. We must abide by these treaties, which must be upheld by our constitution. This constitution must respect the Code of Personal Status, rather than try to render it meaningless. We, the women of Tunisia, will not allow any infringement upon our achievements, manifest in the Code of Personal Status.

[…]

“You used to denounce and yell about your exclusion during the previous regime, but since you reached power, you have been trying to exclude your political rivals. You used to protest, demanding an independent judiciary…”

Speaker of the House: “Please, your time is up.”

Rabiaa Najlaoui: “…but when you reached power, you laid your hands on the judiciary, and have incarcerated citizens who had been exonerated by the courts. You used to claim that you were defending the Islamic religion, but when you reached power, you began to peddle in Islam, believing that Allah has guided no one but you.”

 

An Island in Revolt: A Window into Europe’s Future

2011_Italy_BenEssay-450x325

…there’s a limit to what indigenous populations can take

By :

One could be justified for being perplexed about Pope Francis’s choice of Lampedusa, a tiny island off the coast of Sicily and Italy’s — indeed Europe’s — southernmost tip, as the destination of his very first official visit, which took place on July 8. Not a world capital, not a place in some important geopolitical region of the globe.

What is significant, even symbolic, about Lampedusa is its geography: The small island, with a population of 5,000, is positioned in the middle of the Mediterranean, making it close to the Muslim world, even closer to Tunisia than Sicily.

These two conditions explain what’s been happening to Lampedusa for over a decade, and how it could be a miniature model of the whole of Europe in the not-too-distant future.

Since at least 2001, Lampedusa has been a primary entry point into Europe for immigrants, mostly illegal from Africa. Tens of thousands have been landing here over the years, peaking during the “Arab Spring.” In 2011, according to a report of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, “[a]pproximately 60,000 irregular migrants arrived [in Italy] as part of the 2011 influx from North Africa,” mainly from Tunisia and Libya. Around 50,000 of these came to Lampedusa.

Over 10,000 received residence permits on humanitarian grounds, because the Italian government declared a state of humanitarian emergency in February 2011, subsequently extended until December 2012.

In Lampedusa, the temporary immigrant reception center where outsiders were accommodated and sent to other facilities where they could request asylum, became so overcrowded that thousands of people had to sleep outdoors and in shelters provided by the local parish and ordinary Lampedusans.

The immigrants, among whom were suspected escaped prisoners, were given temporary visas and then gradually transferred to mainland Italy and other EU countries, but there were many times when the number of newcomers was higher than that of the locals.

On those occasions, when natives were outnumbered, there were tales of local women having to be accompanied everywhere to protect them from immigrants’ unwanted attention, sacked shops, apartment doors forced open, people returning home to find Tunisians sitting at the dining table eating and, after the intruders’ departure, some householders even discovering faeces inside saucepans.

The island became what one newspaper called “a huge immigrant camp.”

Maybe expecting to find a hotel reception and with scarcely a thought about the crisis they were creating on the small island, the illegal immigrants were complaining, as in the video below, describing what they found in Lampedusa as “shameful” and pontificating “the reception is zero” as if they were giving a hotel review on TripAdvisor:

 

This video confirms what Lampedusa Mayor Bernardino De Rubeis said: “We have here young Tunisians who arrogantly want everything immediately, just like criminals, ready to endanger our lives and theirs.” He later added: “We’re in a war, and the people will react. There are people here who want to go out into the streets armed with clubs.”

Read more at Front Page

Feminist Protest Exposes Tunisian Islamist Justice

web-femen-1-gettyby IPT News:  

Islamists Rename Prostitution for Terrorists as “Sexual Jihad”

muslim-prostitutesBy Daniel Greenfield:

Who says Islam isn’t feminist? Cutting edge eight-wave Islamist feminism is constantly finding new roles for women in Islam, beyond the default one of staying inside and never talking to a man.

First there was the female suicide bomber, initially a controversial innovation that allowed women to participate in killing non-Muslims, so long as they also killed themselves.

And now Islamists have found a way to legalize prostitution by calling it “Sexual Jihad” giving Muslim women three life paths.

1. Staying indoors

2. Killing themselves

3. Becoming Islamic prostitutes

If you’ve been following the Syrian Civil War (the Sunni vs Shia grudge match), a whole lot of Sunni young men have flooded into Syria from other countries to fight the Neo-Shiite government. Due to the extended fighting, there’s the usual problem that comes with a sizable army.

Since the Salafists pretend to be righteous Islamists who won’t even smoke, they can’t officially utilize prostitutes. So the ongoing problem has been to find a way to get them prostitutes without calling them prostitutes.

The Shiites are ahead in this game because Shiite Islam legalizes prostitution as temporary marriage. But Sunnis have always sneered at that exigency. So their temporary marriage may be Sexual Jihad.

According to media reports and mujahideen who returned to Tunisia after participating in jihad in Syria, 13 Tunisian girls headed to the battlefield in response to the “sexual jihad” fatwa.

Read more at Front Page

 

 

Why the CIA Director Is Wrong: Rethinking Al-Qaeda

osamaBy Barry Rubin:

It’s time, a dozen years after September 11 and following Islamist coups in the Gaza Strip, Islamist electoral revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Turkey, and a probable Islamist victory during the next year in Syria, to completely rethink our view of al-Qaeda.

First, al-Qaeda wasn’t involved in any of these events, and several other big developments we could list. Second, al-Qaeda hasn’t disappeared, contrary to the Obama administration’s claims. And third, the American homeland is now demonstrably well-protected from terrorist attacks, so consequently while success on this front remains important, it need not be the top U.S. strategic priority.

So let me propose a new way of looking at things: aside from being a problem of counterterrorism — that is, of law enforcement — al-Qaeda is no longer important.

It certainly isn’t strategically important, nor is it important for the biggest and most essential U.S. national interests. That doesn’t mean al-Qaeda should be ignored, yet combatting it is relatively manageable.

This alternative view is especially significant at a moment when the new CIA director is the father — and the president, secretary of State, and secretary of Defense the avid fans — of a theory that places al-Qaeda at the center of the world stage. Basically, their theory goes like this:

Al-Qaeda is terribly evil and a threat to America. It must be fought. But all Islamism — except for al-Qaeda — can be moderated and won over by a sympathetic U.S. policy. The Islamists are the best people to handle and defeat al-Qaeda, and by giving the people what they want — Islam running the society — their desire to commit terrorism or to attack America will subside. After all, if the United States shows itself to be Islamism’s best friend, why should Islamists be angry at it?

This strategy began with Obama’s Cairo speech, which was a profoundly pro-Islamist statement, and that’s why he invited Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders to sit in the front row.

In other words: put your enemies in power, and they are no longer your enemies. Moreover, once Islamists get into power they will get entangled in party politics, paving roads, running schools, and doing all the other things that governments do. They will lose their radicalism and certainly stop using violence.

There’s a lot to say against this theory.

Read more at PJ Media

 

Islamic Assassination: Silencing Freedom Fighters

la-fg-wn-tunisian-leader-assassinated-20130206-001By :

Tunisia, one of the most secular Arab countries in modern times—and the first country to experience the “Arab Spring”—was also recently the first Arab country to experience an Islamic assassination since the Arab Spring began.  The BBC explains:

 

Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis.  Relatives say Mr Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work.  He was a prominent secular opponent of the moderate [sic] Islamist-led government and his murder has sparked protests around the country, with police firing tear gas to disperse angry crowds.

Although the BBC report states “It is not known who is responsible for the attack on the politician,” who Belaid was—a leader of the Democratic Patriots party, which has been at the forefront of challenging the Islamist-led government of Tunisia—speaks for itself.  As French President Francois Hollande put it, “This murder robs Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices.”

The Islamist Ennahda party naturally denies any involvement—even as it, not to mention all Tunisian Islamists, had the most to gain from the silencing of Belaid. According to the Islamist party’s president, Rashid Gannouchi,  “Ennahda is completely innocent of the assassination of Belaid.”

Neither the BBC nor the Ennahda party bother mentioning the fact that, mere days before Belaid was shot to death, fatwas calling for his death were publicly proclaimed.  For example, one video shows a bearded Tunisian cleric, of the Salafi brand, publicly denouncing Belaid as an “infidel” whose must be killed—“not according to me but the prophet!”—even as those around him cry “Allahu Akbar!”

Just as Arab-Spring fever came to Egypt following Tunisia—and in both countries, saw the empowerment of Islamist parties, namely the Ennahda and Muslim Brotherhood—so too have Islamic fatwas to assassinate those opposing the Islamist agenda come to Egypt following Tunisia.  Aside from the fact that, during the popular protests against President Muhammad Morsi and his Sharia-heavy constitution, his Islamist allies issued any number of fatwas permitting the spilling of the blood of those opposing him, some days ago, Dr. Mahmoud Sha’ban issued a fatwa on live TV calling for the killing of Muhammad el-Baradei and Hamdin Sabhi, leaders of Egypt’s secular National Salvation Front party for being openly critical of Morsi and the Brotherhood.  He unhesitatingly pronounced that the “Sharia of Allah” demands their killing, basing his fatwa on the words of Muhammad—to behead those who oppose the leader—as found in the canonical collections of Sahih Muslim.

Read more at Front Page

 

 

#AnaLama – Report: Saudi Court Releases Imam Who Raped, Murdered 5-Yr. Old Daughter

In 2009, the brutal shooting of Neda Soltan made her the face of the Iranian opposition. In 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia set off the “Arab Spring.” In June 2011, the torturing and murdering of a 13-year old boy named Hamza al-Khatib sparked protests in his name in Syria. In 2013, Lama’s name may became synonymous with an unstoppable movement for change in Saudi Arabia.

Lama al-Ghamdi

Lama al-Ghamdi

by Ryan Mauro:

Revolutions and irresistible movements for change don’t happen spontaneously. They are “sparked” by a dramatic moment. In Saudi Arabia, such a “spark” may have been lit. News reports say Islamist preacher Fayhan al-Ghamdi has admitted to torturing and murdering his five-year old daughter, Lama, and is walking away a free man. He even still has custody of his two other children. And now, Saudi activists are taking a stand.

Al-Ghamdi, whose extremist preaching was often on Saudi television, was originally accused of abusing Lama last April. That attack was so vicious that she suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Tragically, he was still permitted access to her, leading to her death in December.

Read more at Radical Islam