Yesterday’s events in Egypt, during which over fifty supporters of recently-deposed president Mohammed Morsi were killed by security forces under disputed circumstances, have drawn strong reactions from Tunisia’s ruling Ennahdha party.
Ennahdha’s London office issued a statement in English condemning the actions of the Egyptian security forces, deeming the incident a “massacre,” and reasserting the “legitimacy” of Morsi’s presidency.
Ennahdha and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood are both Islamist political movements that gained political power after revolutions in January 2011. Ennahdha has frequently used the concept of “legitimacy” when discussing Morsi’s ouster, echoing the language used by the Brotherhood.
“Putschist forces committed a massacre against peaceful protesters supporting the legitimate President Mohamed Morsy as they engaged in their dawn prayers,” the statement said, under the name of party leader Rached Ghannouchi.
The statement refers to those who died as “martyrs who sacrificed their lives in defence of the legitimacy expressing the will of Egyptians.”
“The determination of putschists to abrogate the democratic legitimacy embodied in President Mohamed Morsy will only drive putschists to further isolation and confrontation with the entire Egyptian people,” the Ennahdha statement continued.
This language is harsher than that used in response to the military’s removal of Morsi on July 3, in which Ennahdha members condemned the events as a “coup” but were careful to distance themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood, asserting that Ennahdha has been more accepting of cooperation and compromise with other parties.
Abdelfattah Mourou, vice president of Ennahdha, told the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese television station al-Manar that he is concerned about the potential spread of the events in Egypt to other “Arab Spring” countries, including Tunisia, which would impede the achievements of the revolution. The interview with al-Manar was quoted by Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM.
Mourou said that Tunisia is facing a related issue caused by tensions between the government and opposition in recent months. Both sides were expected to make concessions, he said, this has not happened.
According to Mourou, what happened in Egypt was due to a lack of common ground between political forces in Egypt. He stressed that Egypt and Tunisia are facing similar economic difficulties and deteriorating social and political situations, and that a lack of experience among politicians in these countries led them to promise a great deal without being able to deliver.
Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, leader of the major opposition al-Joumhouri party, has also been critical of yesterday’s violence and the actions of the Egyptian military.
Chebbi addressed the matter at the National Constituent Assembly yesterday and was critical of both Morsi and the Egyptian military.
“Morsi was a dictator and overused the argument of legitimacy,” Chebbi said, “but using this as an alibi to make a coup is unacceptable.”
“I urge the issuing of a statement calling for electoral legitimacy to be returned and condemn what happened, and look for solutions to build democracy without damaging democracy and electoral legitimacy,” he said.
A Tamarod Tunisia movement is seeking to replicate the mass protests in Egypt that led to the fall of Morsi, and the Nidaa Tounes opposition party has made similar demands for the dissolution of the government.