U.S. media is reporting that Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi condemned anti-Semitic slogan chanted during the arrival of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during his recent visit. According to an AP report:
The head of Tunisia’s moderate Islamic party on Monday condemned anti-Semitic slogans chanted by a handful of ultraconservative Muslims during the arrival of a top Hamas official. Rachid Ghannouchi also reiterated a policy of his Ennahda party, which heads the country’s new government, that Tunisia’s Jews are “full citizens with equal rights and duties.” ”Ennahda condemns these slogans which do not represent Islam’s spirit or teachings, and considers those who raised them as a marginal group,” Ghannouchi said in a statement. Videos circulated online showed crowd members greeting Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Gaza government, at the airport in Tunis on Thursday chanting “Kill the Jews” and “Crush the Jews.” The chants came from Salafists, ultraconservative Muslims who have been making their presence felt in Tunisia recently. After decades of being oppressed by Tunisia’s secular dictators, Ennahda won elections and has been at pains to demonstrate its moderate credentials and belief in universal rights and freedoms to all Tunisians. They have been repeatedly embarrassed by ultraconservative Islamic groups that have emerged since hard-line President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power last year in an uprising in Tunisia that led to revolts around the Arab world. The groups have attacked university campuses and staged sit-ins over female students not being allowed to attend classes in the conservative face veils and have demonstrated over a variety of moral issues in cities. At a rally in a sports complex for Haniyeh on Sunday, supporters of the banned ultraconservative Hizb al-Tahrir party called for death to Israel, but did not repeat their anti-Jewish slogans. For his part, Haniyeh told The Associated Press on Sunday night that he disagrees with the anti-Semitic slogans. “We are not against the Jews because they are Jews. Our problem is with those occupying the land of Palestine,” he said. “There are Jews all over the world, but Hamas does not target them.” But Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said the chants revealed Haniyeh’s true sentiments. “If he was greeted with anti-Semitic chants, then there must be a reason why his local friends thought this might please him,” Palmor told the AP in Jerusalem.
A previous post reported on this latest stop in Haniyeh’s tour of Arab countries where he met with the new Tunisian Prime Minister and said that the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators in more than a year was “a futile gesture” that will lead nowhere.
Rachid Ghannouchi (many spelling variations) is the leader of the Tunisian Islamist movement known as Nahda (aka Ennahda, Al Nahda) and can best be described as an independent Islamist power center who is tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood though his membership in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and his important position in the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), both organizations led by Global Muslim Brotherhood Youssef Qaradawi. An Egyptian news report has identified Ghannouchi as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood “abroad.” Ghannouchi is also one of the founding members of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi organization closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and dedicated to the propagation of “Wahabist” Islam throughout the world. Ghannouchi is known for his thinking on the issue of Islam and citizenship rights. Earlier posts reported on the return of Mr. Ghannouchi to Tunisia following his long exile in the UK. Other posts have detailed his extremist background.
A post from yesterday discussed a report that Ghannouchi had traveled to Qatar in early January where he was hosted by Qaradawi, himself a virulent anti-Semite.