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The Center for the Study of Islam Democracy

Report: The Causes and Circumstances behind the Formation of the Islamic Movement in Tunisia

Report: The Causes and Circumstances behind the Formation of the Islamic Movement in Tunisia


After the Arab spring uprising the political arena witnessed an emergence of political parties with Islamist background as an alternative to the ages of tyranny. Some of these parties succeeded in conducting a peaceful democratic transition .However, some other regimes failed to achieve what their people aspire due to several factors namely the regional impact and the local pressure of the anti-revolution lobbies.

Within this framework, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy held a symposium entitled the causes and circumstances beyond the existence of Islamist movements in Tunisia , Saturday June the 27 2015 at the center headquarters. This symposium witnessed the participation of a variety of researchers and analysts of Islamist movements.

02Dr. Radwan Masmoudi the president of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy delivered the opening speech by introducing the purpose of this symposium. He initiated his speech by a funeral oration for the victims of the terrorist attack in Sousse stressing the threat of terrorism to the Tunisian revolution and the achievements of democratic transition in Tunisia and which attempts to restore the old regime of tyranny.



03The Intervention of Mr. Lotfi Amdouni a scholar and a specialist of the Islamist movement who criticized the absence of the Islamist movements as a main topic for the contemporary intellectual stream adding that a minority of scholars took this topic but from a single perspective without paying attention to the fundamental principles upon which these movements were founded. He stated also that studying the islamists movement requires a deep analysis for the cultural, political and historical background referring to the Bourguiba policy toward islamists which paved the way to the state dictatorship .He focused also on the popular defeat of Arabs during the 1967 war which led to the fall of the pan Arabic which paved the way for a restoration of the Islamic awakening as an alternative and solution for all the reoccurred defeat of the Arabic nations. He added that the real youth organized movement based on the Islamic values was the first core of a real Islamic political project in Tunisia especially after the closeness between the young activists and sheikhs of mosques to rehabilitate the religious studies in Zeitouna. Within the same vein he talked about the pivotal role of Sheikh Med Salah Ennayferin mentoring the youth of “Islamic awakening”. Concerning the role of Sheikh Rached Ganouchi he stated that he was one of the prominent figure contributing in developing the missionary work .he concluded his intervention by clarifying that historians agreed that it is only possible to talk about a whole organized Islamic movement only after the meeting of forty which was the first official Caucus

04The activist and politician Mr. Mohamed Goumani talked about the Islamic movements after 50 years of its emergence and evolution from an underground movement to a patriotic reform movement and a partner in ruling the country. He added that the main shift for the Islamic movement in Tunisia was from secret missionary work or Daawa to a total reform approach. Mr. Goumani talked also about the diversity of scholar’s founders of this movement like universities graduate leaders and sheiks which made this movement based on variety of ideas and perspectives. Concerning the exclusion against this movement he praised the peaceful orientation of the movement despite of the chaotic political field and the violence in the region and which was adopted by jihadists in Egypt and extreme left partisans.

Goumani praised also the shift of Nahdha movement the Islamist movement from shura and sharia ruling regimes toward defending freedoms and democratic principles and by preserving the Islamic values toward building an Islamic society and civil state which increased the number of the movement supporters and advocates. Concluding his speech he called the leaders and decision makers within Nahdha movement to avoid wasting time with issues solved in the constitution provisions namely the question of identity and to focus on more important issues like today’s economic and social priorities

05The third intervention was delivered by Mr. Kamel Ben Younes a historian and university professor which was entitled; the Islamic movement in Tunisia; a patriotic political movement or a classic Islamic group. He initiated his speech by the confusion of notions occurred among many scholars between the Islamic awakening, the Islamic phenomenon and the Islamic movement then al Nahdha movement. He added that we have to draw a sharp line between the phenomenon and the movement stating that the Islamic movement is a continuance of the liberation movements Ben Younes said that the strength of this party lay under the variety of members and leaders from different social and political strata he added that one of the major strength points for the Islamist movement in Tunisia is that it became opened and communicate with other members of the political arena.

06Mr. Abdelaziz Temimi, journalist and political science scholar, focused on the duality between the Islamist movement in Tunisia and the national project led by Bourguiba. He added that the social and cultural approach of Bourguiba led to the emergence of a middle class which was emerging within a political arena characterized by variety of political orientation and conflicts which paved the way for the emergence of new concepts like the religious legitimacy and religious action within politics
presenting the religious choice as an alternative for the failure of other projects. Concluding his speech the Islamist movement for Mr. Temimi was a new concept of reform and another alternative of governance as a response to the reoccurred fall of political experiences.



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