Rashid al-Ghannushi


Rashid al-Ghannushi, is a Tunisian politician, co-founder of the Ennahda Movement and serving as its "intellectual leader". He is a cofounder of the Tunisia's Ennahda Party. He is one of the most well-known Tunisian political dissidents and spent a number of years imprisoned first by Habib Bourguiba and then by Zine el-Abidine ben Ali.


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  • -Biography

    Rashid Ghannoushi (or Rachid Ghannouchi in French) was born in outside El Hamma, in the governorate of Gabès in southern Tunisia  in 1941.
    After studying philosophy in Damascus and at the Sorbonne in Paris, Rachid al-Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia and joined the Qurʾānic Preservation Society in 1970.
    In 1981 he helped organize the Islamic Tendency Movement, which later became the Nahḍah Party; this action resulted in his imprisonment From 1981 to 1984 and from 1987 to 1988.
    In 1993 Britain granted him political asylum. After a popular uprising forced Tunisian Pres. Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power in January 2011, Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia after more than 20 years in exile. In February 2011 the Nahḍah Party was officially legalized, paving the way for it to enter candidates in elections. The party was successful in the October 2011 Constituent Assembly election, winning more seats than any other party.
    Rashid Ghannoushi is the ideological of Tunisia's Ennahda, or the Renaissance Party, the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is known for holding liberal Islamist views. 
  • +Education

    He received his certificate of attainment degree, equivalent to the Baccalauréat, in 1962 from the University of Ez-Zitouna. He entered the school of agriculture at Cairo University in 1964 but, following the expulsion of Tunisians from Egypt, he left for Syria. He studied philosophy at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1968.


  • +Entering a political scene

    He became active in politics when he co-founded the Islamic Tendency movement in 1981, which later became the Ennahda (Renaissance) Party. He was imprisoned due to his political activism from 1981 to 1984 and again from 1987 to 1988. After the falsification of the 1989 legislative elections by former president Ben Ali, Mr Ghannouchi left for London where he lived in political exile for two decades, until his return home on 30 January 2011, after the Tunisian revolution.


  • +Islamist Ennahda Movement

    Ennahda, which is Arab for Renaissance, was established in 1981 but was repressed by Tunisia’s independence leader and former president Habib Bourguiba.
    Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali, who pushed Bourguiba aside in 1987, allowed Ennahda to take part in the 1989 elections. Ennahda officially won some 17 percent of the vote, coming second only to the ruling party. Some analysts say that there was widespread fraud in the election and that the true support for Ennahda was closer to 30-35 percent.
    Startled by Ennahda’s popularity, Ben Ali banned the movement and cracked down on its members. Many went into exile and many more were jailed during the 1990s, accused of involvement in a plot to overthrow the secular state.
    Tunisia has had a strong secular tradition since its independence from France in 1956. Both Bourguiba and Ben Ali discouraged women from wearing the Islamic veil and men from sporting long beards and enforced secular ideals.
    As a result, Islamist politicians have a much lower profile than in nearby countries like Egypt or Algeria. It is not clear how widespread Ennahda’s support is, however, because many Tunisians may have hidden their sympathies for years to avoid arrest.
    Experts on Islamist movements say Ennahda’s ideology is more moderate than that of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement founded in Egypt in the 1920s. Ghannouchi himself has likened Ennahda to Turkey’s AK Party, an Islamist-rooted party that has ruled since 2002.
  • + Exile

    Ghannouchi was exiled in 1989 by Ben Ali, who was toppled on January 14 by popular protests that have sent tremors through an Arab world where similarly autocratic leaders have long sought to suppress Islamist groups. He went into exile in London.


  • +Return From Exile

    After the 2011 revolution, Rachid Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia’s main Islamist Ennahda movement,in January 30, 2011 returned to the country from which he was exiled 22 years ago .
    Thousands of Tunisians turned out  on that day to welcome home an Islamist leader whose return from 22 years of exile indicated that his party would emerge as a major force in Tunisia after the ousting of its president.
    The reception for Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party, at Tunis airport was the biggest showing by the Islamists in two decades, during which thousands of them were jailed or exiled by president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
    The Islamists were Tunisia’s strongest opposition force at the time Ben Ali cracked down on them in 1989 but are thought not to have played a leading role in the popular revolt.
    Up to 10,000 young men and veiled women packed the arrival hall and car park. Some climbed trees and electricity pylons to catch a glimpse of the 69-year-old Ghannouchi, who says he has no ambition to run for state office.
    “Oh great people who called for this blessed revolution, continue your revolution, preserve it and translate it into democracy, justice and equality,” Ghannouchi told the crowd, to chants of “Allahu Akbar.”
  • +Rached Ghannouchi Role in forming the Coalition Government

    Ghannouchi was instrumental in the formation of a coalition government between Ennahda Party and secular parties in 2011, pioneering a new model in the region based on consensus and cooperation between Islamists and secularists as a stronger basis for building a stable democracy. This approach also led to the adoption of Tunisia’s new constitution which analyst have described as the most progressive in the Arab world, and one that guarantees basic rights and freedoms for citizens, including civic, social, economic and environmental rights, and adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of its pillars.
    Political views
    Ghannouchi’s leadership has contributed to the development of consensus amongst Tunisia’s differing political parties. His willingness to work with his political opponents has contributed to the progress of Tunisia on its democratic transition path where many other countries in the region have failed.
  • +BBC apologized of Ghannouchi

    On 17 May 2013, the BBC published an apology on their website for previously publishing inaccurate statements about Ghannushi six months earlier on 21 November 2012.
    The article had accused Ghannushi of threatened to order troops on to the streets if the En-Nahda Party did not get the results he expected in the elections in 2011, and suggested he condoned the violent Salafist attack on the United States embassy and the burning of the American School in Tunis in September 2012.
    Acknowledging that none of these accusations and suggestions were in fact true, the retraction concluded: "The BBC apologises to Mr Ghannouchi for these mistakes and for the distress they caused him."
  • +Books of Rashid Ghannoushi

    Since the 1970’s, Mr. Ghannoushi has authored numerous works on a wide range of contemporary political issues, including the compatibility between Islam and democracy, secularism, civil society, modernity, religion and pluralism, Islam and the West, human rights, the rights of women, the rights of minorities, coexistence between faiths and political developments in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
    Ghannoushi’s views and writings are influential in Tunisia and the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds. He was named as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012 and Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers.
  • +Rached Ghannouchi's (unseen) daughter

    Yusra Ghannouchi is an Ennahda spokesperson for the  Ennahda Party, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in Tunisia, and the daughter of the party leader Rachid Ghannouchi.
    She is active in bridge building between different communities, interfaith dialogue, advocacy for the rights of Muslim Women and has lectured internationally on these topics.
    she attends a press conference to announce the winning of her Islamist party of Ennahda on October 27, 2011, following the Arab Spring's first free election.

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