Astounding! Moderate Islamist Party Turns Out Not To Be Moderate

Well, you could knock me down with a feather.

Remember how the Guardian and the BBC assured us all that Ennahda, the party run by the formerly London-based Islamist and racist, Rachid Ghannoushi, was “moderate”?

How the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele attacked Tunisians who opposed Ennahda as “Islamophobic”?

Well, lookie here:

Tunisia’s secularists said their fears about an Islamist takeover were being realized on Tuesday after a senior official in the moderate Islamist party which won last month’s election invoked the revival of a caliphate, or Islamic state.

Footage posted on the Internet showed Hamadi Jbeli, the secretary-general of the Ennahda party, telling supporters that “We are in the sixth caliphate, God willing.”

The caliphate was a system for governing Islamic empires based on sharia law. There were five caliphates under different dynasties until Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk abolished the last of them early last century.

The remarks by Jbeli — his party’s nominee to be the next prime minister — complicated Ennahda’s efforts to form a coalition government, leading one prospective partner to say it was partly suspending negotiations in protest.

Ennahda has reassured Tunisians it will not impose a Muslim moral code on society and will respect women’s equality, but the comments by Jbeli were interpreted by secularists as evidence the party has a hidden agenda.

Khemais Ksila, a member of the executive committee of the Ettakatol party, which is in coalition talks with Ennahda, said the party was suspending its participation in two of the three committees which were working on a coalition deal.

“We do not accept this statement,” he said. “We thought we were going to build a second republic with our partner, not a sixth caliphate.”

Tunisian website All Voices also reports:

In a popular meeting in Sousse on November 12, celebrating his party’s relative victory in the Constitutional Assembly elections, Hamadi Jebali of Enahdha party, very probably tunisian next prime minister in Tunisia, has announced that he and his party will be “the 6 th islamic Rightly Guided Caliphs”, promising also that this tunisian Caliphate will, enlighten the worrld, as did the Jasmine revolution!

He also promised that Jerusalem will be freed from jewish occupation. The liberation process will start from the tunisian Caliphate! pointing to a palestenian guest woman present in the meeting: “our sister’s presence is a sign from God. There are divine signals in this very moment. The liberation of jerusalem starts here. From tunisia will start the 6th Righteous Caliphate”

Uproar in tunisian blogosphere and facebook pages in reaction to these strangely hilarious, out of time statements. Hamadi Jebali also added “I see many Godly signs in this meeting”. Someone ironically commented ” I was almost expecting him to perform a miracle for the audience!”

Oh, and of course, the rally was addressed by Hamas:

Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda invited Houda Naïm, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council based in Gaza, to speak at a rally in Sousse, a coastal Tunisian city, this past Sunday. The event marked the first time in known memory a member of Hamas has addressed the Tunisian public.

All of this makes sense if you appreciate that Ennahda and Hamas are both wings of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is an article of political faith that “Muslim lands” are part of a single Caliphate. This is the nature of their politics.

Obviously, this will come as a huge surprise to those who get their news from the Guardian and BBC, rather from, you know, actual Tunisian secularists, liberals and democrats. Or indeed, Harry’s Place.

Oh, and if you’re interested in the Ennahda’s crap damage limitation exercise, here it is:

“Jbeli was intending to speak about good governance and a break with corruption … not the establishment of an Islamic regime,” Faouzi Kamoun, the director of Jbeli’s office, told Reuters.

“We are a civil party … This is indisputable. But a section of the elite is seeking to distract people from the main issues,” he said.

Course he was. Course they are.

This is what Tunisian secularists are saying about this speech:

“This speech is very dangerous,” Said Issam Chebbi, a leading member of the secularist PDP party, told Reuters. “This is what we feared.”

The secularist Maghreb newspaper mocked Jbeli with a photo montage on its front page of the Ennahda official dressed as a traditional Arab emir, or leader, and the headline: “Sixth Caliph Hamadi Jbeli.”

An Internet user called Imen Kaouel posted a comment underneath an online video of Jbeli’s speech saying: “We are starting to discover the true face of Ennahda.”

And this is how “Western Diplomats” are apparently responding:

Western diplomats say his moderate approach is sincere, but that some in the party’s rank and file may want to take it down a more hardline path.

Because they’re hardly likely to say that they’ve been fooled by Ghannoushi, are they?

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