Hizb Ettahrir, a global Islamist network that has been denied legal recognition as a political party in Tunisia, organized a demonstration today in downtown Tunis. Approximately 150 Hizb Ettahrir activists – adherents to a strict, conservative interpretation of the Quran, and advocates for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate – protested against the official visit of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde in front of the iconic municipal theatre located on Avenue Habib Bourguiba.
Dozens of teenage boys dispersed leaflets for Hizb Ettahrir to pedestrians as they passed by, but were unable to explain the motivations surrounding the organization of the protest. The verbose pamphlets denounced the interim government for upholding democracy as a political system, and advocated for a purely Islamic model of governance based on the Quran.
The document also denounced the Tunisian government’s commitment to building cooperative relationships with Europe and the United States – citing grievances stemming from the presence of American soldiers in Muslim countries and the colonial exploitation of Tunisia by France.
Adal Bin Ibrahim, one of the Hizb Ettahrir demonstrators present at the protest, renounced capitalist and socialist economic models - and all policies involving the acquisition of American debt - as forms of, “economic colonialism.” He expressed his belief that the only correct economic model is that of the “Islamic economy.” When asked whether this economic model entailed a system of Islamic finance, he responded that Islamic finance – as conceived in the Arab gulf – was merely a capitalist pretext justified by misinterpretation of Islamic doctrine.
Bin Ibrahim explained that their organization advocates for a complete departure from the, “debt-based economic policies,” of the former regime.
The peaceful gathering ended abruptly with arrival of security forces, which firmly ushered the demonstrators from the thoroughfare. As he was forced from the avenue, amidst cries of “God is great (Allahu Akbar),” by fellow protestors, Bin Ibrahim grumbled, “witness the old dictatorship of the new regime.”