By Tristan Dreisbach | Jul 4 2013Ennahdha , Ghannouchi , Ikhwan , Morsi , Muslim Brotherhood ,
Yesterday’s events in Egypt, in which President Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by the military after a protest movement called for him to step down, have inspired strong reactions from Tunisia’s ruling Ennahdha party.
Ennahdha, which like Morsi’s party is an Islamist movement that came to power after the revolutions of January 2011, has condemned what it deems a “coup” against Morsi, but is also careful to differentiate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Ennahdha spokesperson Zoubeyer Chhoudi criticized yesterday’s events in an interview today with Tunisia Live. [display_posts type="related" limit="3" position="right"]
“Of course, without question, it is a military coup against electoral legitimacy. The only democratic way to express your opinion is through elections, not a coup,” Chhoudi said.
“In the end, everyone should be responsible for his actions if they try to drown the country,” he added.
Chhoudi asserted that there were fundamental differences between the situation of Ennahdha in Tunisia and that of Morsi’s party in Egypt.
“We probably will not have the same scenario since we are very much in line with the democratic process, especially if we can set the date of the upcoming elections,” he said.
Chhoudi added that Tamarod Tunisia, a group hoping to initiate a similar protest movement in Tunisia to that in Egypt, “is a test for our elite.”
He also sought to draw contrast between the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahdha in Tunisia.
“We have the same intellectual background, but our Tunisian experience is very rich and diverse, and we don’t have the same diversion or polarization on core issues.”
Ennahdha party leader Rached Ghannouchi called for dialogue in Egypt and criticized the military takeover.
“We call on the great people of Egypt to preserve this revolution from division and for the conflicting parties to dialogue and seek consensus and avoid exclusion and respect of electoral legitimacy because Egypt remains the heart of the umma [the Muslim world],” he said in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat published today. “I call on them to avoid debates, conflicts and divisions that threaten the state, the revolution, the nation, and the people.”
He added that the Egyptian people should “not let the enemies of the revolution seize democracy” and must “avoid any form of a coup.”
Ghannouchi also drew a contrast between the Egyptian military, which has a strong political role in post-revolutionary Egypt, and that of the Tunisian army, which has generally been perceived as remaining politically neutral. [display_posts type="same_author" limit="3" position="right"]
“Egypt’s army was in power for 60 years, but our national army remained out of the political arena,” he told Asharq al-Awsat. “So we praise our national army for its commitment to keeping the national security of the country, far from any interference in political affairs.”
Comparing the experiences of Ennahdha in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ghannouchi said that Tunisia is “still on our way towards democracy based on legitimacy and consensus. Dialogue is the condition for success in this transitional phase, which needs consensus and respect for the legitimacy of the ballot box.”
Ghannouchi asserted that the Ennahdha-led government has tried to maintain national unity.
“We made great sacrifices to reach this,” he told Asharq al-Awsat. “For example, we didn’t cling to some important ministries [during the political crisis following the assassination of Chokry Beladi in February] in order to avoid division.”
This echoes statements made by Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh, also an Ennahdha leader, on Monday.
“Our approach is characterized by consensus and partnership,” Reuters quoted him telling France 24. “The possibility of an Egypt scenario is unlikely in Tunisia because I have great confidence in the awareness of Tunisians and their ability to measure the potential of their country.”
Said Ferjani, an Ennahdha spokesman, said in an interview today that the events in Egypt were clearly a coup.
“This is a coup, a naked coup, it has suspended the constitution and everything. This coup d’etat we condemn unequivocally. Whoever doesn’t condemn the coup, it is a test of his credentials about how much he sticks to democracy,” he said.
Ferjani asserted that Ennahdha and the Muslim Brotherhood handled governance in very different ways, with Ennahdha much more accepting of democracy and open to cooperation with other parties.
“I think the Brotherhood in politics focused on the president’s choices while Ennahdha went to the National Constituent Assembly as the cornerstone of our democracy. The other difference is that we have a Troika,” he said, referring to the governing coalition led by Ennahdha.
“The government must be firm” in dealing with anyone calling for military intervention in Tunisia or the disruption of Tunisian democracy, Ferjani said, “but at the same time we have to open up and be more inclusive.”
Ferjani also condemned the congratulatory statements of some Gulf states regarding the military’s actions in Egypt.
“The Emirates or Saudi Arabia are not in any position to judge what’s going on in Egypt because they are neither democratic, nor do they believe in the citizenship of their fellow citizens.”
“The work of Israel shouldn’t be disregarded either,” Ferjani asserted, suggested a foreign influence in recent Egyptian affairs.
On Monday, Ennahdha had released a statement regarding the protests in Egypt that described Morsi’s supporters as “defending electoral legitimacy,” echoing language used by the Muslim Brotherhood.
“There is no alternative to dialogue between Egyptians, those in power and those in the opposition, within the framework of respect for democratic legitimacy,” the statement continued. Ennahdha also called for “national unity” to “defeat the wishes of the enemies of the revolution and the nation.”
The events in Egypt have solicited stronger reactions from Turkey, where an Islamist-led government has also struggled with popular protests.
Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party, said yesterday that the ousting of Morsi is a sign of “backwardness,” and he accused some Western countries of supporting what he termed a “coup,” according to Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.
“Some Western countries have not accepted the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrival to power. They have mobilized the streets, then issued a memorandum, and are now staging the coup,” he said.
“We should appreciate Morsi’s position against coup supporters and object to any kind of coup anywhere,” said Turkey’s European Union Minister Egemen Bağış, according to Hürriyet.
In contrast, Saudi Arabia, which has been opposed the Muslim Brotherhood, praised the actions of the Egyptian military and congratulated the newly-appointed interim president of Egypt, Adly Mansour.
“In my own name and on behalf of the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I congratulate you on assuming the leadership of Egypt at this critical point of its history,” al-Bawaba quoted Saudi King Abdullah as saying in a statement.
“By doing so, I appeal to Allah Almighty to help you to shoulder the responsibility laid on your shoulder to achieve the hopes of our sisterly people of the Arab Republic of Egypt.”
The government of the United Arab Emirates also issued a statement today expressing “satisfaction” over yesterday’s events, according to AP.
Salma Bouzid contributed reporting.