Secret Video Reveals Ghannouchi’s Vision for Islam in Tunisia - Tunisia Live Secret Video Reveals Ghannouchi’s Vision for Islam in Tunisia - Tunisia Live
Secret Video Reveals Ghannouchi’s Vision for Islam in Tunisia


Secret Video Reveals Ghannouchi's Vision for Islam in Tunisia

By Roua Khlifi and Adam Le Nevez

A secretly recorded video has emerged in which Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi talks candidly with members of Islamic associations about his long-term strategy to consolidate power in Tunisia.

Speaking in a private conversation with an unknown number of people, Ghannouchi discusses the conflict between Islamists and secularists in Tunisia, stating that Ennahdah's victory was a surprise to secularists.

The secularists didn’t expect Ennahdha to win. El Beji [the interim Prime Minister] kept saying they won't win, even if they win, they won't get more than 20% of the votes. The surprise was that, despite the unfair electoral law, Ennahdha won the elections. The people want this religion.

During the seven minute video, the leader of Ennahdha cautions against political opportunism and argues that Islamists need to consolidate their political achievements or risk losing them.

Do not rush things. I tell the Salafist youth we all went through the same and we suffered. Now you want to have a TV, radio, schools, and invite the preachers. Why are you rushing things? he asks.

We should present a reassuring discourse to people, and instruct them to protect our achievements. We should spread our schools, protect the country with associations, the Ennahdha leader says.

Ghannouchi argues that radical change could backfire on them, as it did for Algerian Islamists in the 1990s.

Do you think that what we achieved cannot be taken away from us? This is what we thought when we were Algeria in the 90s. We thought that Algeria had reached the goal and there was no turning back. It turns out we misjudged the situation and we went backwards. The mosques went back under the control of the secularists and Islamists were persecuted.

Although Ennahdha won 40% of votes in the October 2011 election, Ghannouchi claims in the video that secularists are still in control of large parts of society.

Now the secular groups, though they did not gain a majority, still control media, the administration and the economy. The administration is in their hands. We are on the head of the administration but all the bases are under their power. Even the governors are under their control.

The Army is in their hands. We cannot guarantee the police and the army, he continues.

The video was likely recorded in February or March 2012, at a time when a public debate was occurring over whether reference to Sharia law should be included in the Tunisian constitution which is currently being drafted. In April 2012 Ennahdha announced that they would not be advocating the inclusion of Sharia law in the constitution.

Will it benefit Islam if we add Sharia to the constitution? On the surface, Tunisians are Muslims. However, a group of Tunisians, the secular groups who are in charge, are afraid of Sharia. Is there a difference between Islam and Sharia? It is the same thing with a different name. Sharia, in its true sense, is the practices, and the beliefs. Even for those who demand to include Sharia in the constitution, I ask them if they want to apply the Sharia laws but they say they don't want that.  They want the text to be included in the constitution in order to limit the state especially that the previous text didn't limit the power of the state. This is a superficial. An Islamist who clings to the text is as superficial as the secular who rejects the Sharia text and accepts Islam, explained Ghanouchi.

When contacted by Tunisia Live this morning, Ennahdha spokesperson Zoubair Chehodi, said that the video dates back to March.

We are aware of the existence of the video. It is an old issue. It goes back to the time when the country was debating the inclusion of Sharia in the constitution. During a meeting with a group of preachers and representatives of Islamic associations, Rached Ghannouchi discussed some points regarding the situation, said Chehodi.

After speaking with Tunisia Live, Ennahdha later released a statement on their website. While it did not deny the authenticity of the video, it claimed that some passages were taken out of context.

What Ghanouchi said about the police not being guaranteed came in the context of talking about how governmental institutions still contain corrupted and RCD related minorities which are obstructing the efforts to build national security, the statement said.

The video appears to be edited with cuts at 1m52s and 5m45s. One version of the video, posted on the Youtube channel of Kaddour Ayari is preceded by a discourse from a person who warns viewers about the danger of Islamism.

A second 9-minute video posted on Youtube in April 2012 appears to come from the same meeting. In it Ghannouchi can be heard discussing how Salafists should become engaged in community outreach.

You have the opportunity to change things gradually. You have the opportunity to open schools. Why are you still insisting on Sharia when you can open a school? We should open Koranic school and reopen the mosque of El-Zaytouna”.

In the video Ghannouchi also discusses differences between different Islamist movements in Tunisia.

We always say Salafist are our sons and daughters, the children of this country and that we should always communicate with them.

We don’t disagree on religion, but we disagree on the way to apply it, he says.

Both videos, in Tunisian Dialect, can be viewed here:!


  • Samir

    If you look into Ghannouchi’s history, what he has written and who his friends and associates are, it is obvious that he has a long term agenda. This is to install an Iranian style Islamic state in Tunisia.

    He is biding his time but the man is a snake and, if he has his way, Tunisia will descend into an impoverished backwater rather than a prosperous open society for which it has such enormous potential.

    People in Sidi Bou Zid, and the rest of Tunisia, should hold Ghannouchi and his puppets in Ennahdha personally responsible for concentrating on religion at the expense of the original reason for the revolution – jobs.

    One of the worst things about Ennahdha is that if you criticize its policies you are accused of being anti-Islam, which of course is nonsense. This is an excellent reason for not mixing politics and religion.

    This video does nothing more than add further evidence of Ghannouchi’s malevolent intentions.

  • angela

    He has not changed. He was spouting this nonsense in the UK. However he has fooled fund givers and other nations into believing he is moderate…..ha…..only the tunisian people can remove this man in the next elections….he is a cancer that just keeps growing there is not one ounce of honesty in him at all. Be very aware.

    • Arij

      Dear Angela,
      You speak of Sheikh Rashed like you know his inner most thoughts and personal beliefs? I have lived in the UK for a long time now, including the time that Sheikh Rashed was with us in London, I have also attended, and so have my parents, most if not all of the meetings with him and the tunisian community many years back. It is safe to say that not once have I have ever seen from him any dishonesty, and particularly extremism. You state that he is not a moderate muslim, what in particular makes you believe this? Because by saying this, from the way I see it, you are basically claiming that a vast majority of the muslim population are also not moderate, as his Islam reflects closely with the beliefs and attitudes of a vast majority of muslims in the world from what I see. To judge a man like this especially on his beliefs are wrong no matter who he is, unless you know him like the palm of your hand, which I highly doubt.

  • Greta

    Yes, in fact, the poorer Tunisia gets the better for Ghannouchi because poor people are easier to brainwash and manipulate. That’s why this govt is doing nothing to help businesses, it is a miracle that any of them are still managing to pay their workers when every other day there is another scandal hitting the international papers.

  • latifa

    “Now the secular groups, though they did not gain a majority, still control media, the administration and the economy. The administration is in their hands. We are on the head of the administration but all the bases are under their power. Even the governors are under their control.”

    “The Army is in their hands. We cannot guarantee the police and the army,” he continues.

    So whats new about this. It is obvious a corrupt system such as Be Ali’s cannot be removed in an election it will be a slow process of purging corrupt elements. Thank God Ennahda want to do this slowly and peacfully and are urging restraint. No one wants a bolshevik style massacre of the old regimes elements. They are slowly trying to restructure the army, police, judiciary, media etc etc and those who still control them are still dissproportionately powerful. The key point here is electoral support. Ennahda have it. Seculaists DON’T. Let us see how the next elaction shakes down.

  • Pingback: Was this Ghannouchi’s Romney moment? | My Blog()

  • sama

    The Salafi Terror continues.

  • My dear tunisian fellows reading your comments I am even more convinced of the Marx ‘s tought ; religions represent the people’s opium. And you’re sincerely making a trip into it!

  • jamsaqi

    The current scenario in which a majority of people in Tunisia show empathy for moderate Islamism does not for a moment mean that religious texts like the Quran are not scientifically ( and rather pathetically at that) false and therefore unsuitable for public policy planning… which latter has been the reason why secularism was favoured by founding fathers of USA like Jefferson and others at the very outset. As the Quran has hundreds of scientific contradictions, rational people will sooner or later revolt in disgust when people are asked in a military like fashion to bow down their heads a number of times a day and affirm that the Quran is the word of Allah and Mohammad is to be praised …It is not for the western powers to determine if Islamism is good for Muslims, but for the Muslims themselves to decide, if religious madrasas take them closer to truth or do secular schools teachng science in fact do that. By all means cleanse the governments of dictatorship and corruption and bring about better governance but to say that the Quran is scientifically correct is simply unacceptable by those that know even a modicum of science of whom today there is no shortage.