Tunisian party wants to classify Muslim Brotherhood as “terrorist organisation”

The initiative would criminalise connections to the Brotherhood.
Monday 08/06/2020
A file picture of the leader of the Free Destourian Party (PDL) Abir Moussi (C) gesturing during a session of parliament. (AFP)
A file picture of the leader of the Free Destourian Party (PDL) Abir Moussi (C) gesturing during a session of parliament. (AFP)

TUNIS –Tunisian opposition figure and President of the Free Destourian Party (PDL) Abir Moussi announced today her parliamentary bloc’s decision to submit of a new draft resolution to classify the Muslim Brotherhood, as a “terrorist organisation” and a movement deemed “hostile to the civil state,” in a move that would pit the PDL once again in a parliamentary showdown against Ennahda Movement and its leader Rached Ghannouchi.

Speaking during a news conference at the Parliament’s building, Moussi explained that the new draft resolution calls on the government to formally “classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation that is hostile to the civil state” and push the state to “consider any Tunisian person or entity that has connections to this organisation as being guilty of a terrorist crime according to the law on terrorism.”

“Today we want a clear political position. Political parties and politicians who want to openly dissociate themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood organisation must prove so and vote in favour of this draft motion,” Moussi said.

“Some political entities and civil society groups in Tunisia have leaders and members who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and receive funding from the organisation,” the PDL leader said, adding that such a situation is “inconceivable” as it is a “threat to national sovereignty.”

Ennahda and its leaders have in the past denied affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and reiterated their denunciation of terrorism.

But Ennahda’s critics and rivals, including the PDL, have highlighted the ideological and historical links of Ennahda with the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist affiliations and criticised its links to Brotherhood-aligned governments in Ankara, Doha and Tripoli as being detrimental to the national interest.

The Muslim Brotherhood is considered a “terrorist organisation” in a number of Arab countries.  Its links to terrorism have been investigated by a number of European countries and the United States.

In recent months, the PDL and other opposition blocs within Tunisia’s Parliament have upped the ante in their confrontation with the Ennahda Islamist Movement over Ghannouchi’s meddling with the country’s foreign policy agenda and his close ties with Islamists in Turkey and Qatar.

Earlier this month, Moussi was able to pull together a solid front to counter Ghannouchi’s influence despite a fragmented secularist opposition in Tunisia’s parliament.

The highly publicised show of force in Tunisia’s parliament June 3 during a debate about Tunisia’s role in the conflict in next-door Libya added intense pressure on the Islamist leader and his party, which faces accusations of coordination with foreign parties at the risk of dragging the country to the Libyan war.

Moussi, 45, has been charting an aggressive political course, relentlessly calling out Islamists over their alleged foreign connections and lack of commitment to Tunisia’s civil ideals.

On June 3, she was able to secure 94 votes in parliament for her draft motion condemning foreign intervention Libya, one of her most striking political victories to date.

While the draft motion was not adopted, Moussi’s ability to garner support from 78 deputies outside her party (the PDL has only 16 seats) was an impressive achievement.

As Moussi piles up pressure on Ennahda, the Islamist party, a political heavyweight that has 54 seats in parliament and holds the position of parliamentary speaker and 5 ministerial portfolios, is currently facing unprecedented challenges to its control of the country’s state institutions.

While Ghannouchi, also Tunisia’s Parliament Speaker, likely predicted his party could take advantage of political divisions in the country to maintain control of the national agenda, recent developments have shown that the outcome of any political confrontation between his party and the centrist and leftist opposition is not guaranteed to go the way of Islamists.

The new draft resolution is likely to provoke a debate about Ennahda’s historical ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and Ghannouchi’s foreign contacts suspected of being geared at serving the Islamists’ agenda in the region.

The new PDL initiative, whether adopted or not, will eventually help Moussi, an outspoken critic of Islamists, force Ennahda to engage in a debate it would have liked to avoid.