Rached Ghannouchi, head of the ruling Ennahdha party, addressed ongoing security issues today related to militants near the border with Algeria and condemned terrorist activity in Tunisia.
He spoke at a press conference at Ennahdha’s office in the Tunis suburb of Cité Tahrir, where he also addressed recent controversial political matters.
Ghannouchi stated that Ennahdha, an Islamist party leading the ruling Troika coalition, condemns the violent incidents that have taken place on Chambi Mountain near Algeria and have resulted in serious injuries to members of Tunisian security forces. He called on all Tunisians to support the security forces.
“There is no place or future for terrorism in Tunisia,” he said.
Ghannouchi described the alleged terrorists who have been hiding on the mountain and who are responsible for land mine explosions as “reckless youngsters.” He additionally explained that values of Islam and jihad have been distorted to serve the goals of terrorists.
“There is no place for jihad in Tunisia, except for peaceful jihad of development and democracy,” he said.
The conference attracted a significant number of media outlets and both local and international journalists. When asked about the controversial Tunisian anti-terrorism law of 2003, Ghannouchi asserted that the law is still applicable. However, he added, it will only be used when the law is violated and not as a political tool to stifle opposition, as it was used by former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
“No one will be arrested for their ideologies and thoughts in Tunisia,” he said.
In response to questions about impunity for “Salafists,” Ghannouchi stated that non-violent Salafists, despite some extreme beliefs, are also Tunisians and should be considered “our children.” He called for people with different ideologies and backgrounds to participate in a dialogue with them and help integrate them into civil society.
“The Salafist phenomenon should evolve from its current status of carelessness and terrorism to wisdom and dialogue,” he said.