Tunisia: What is Ennahda Party?

It was Tunisia that launched the Arab Spring. The country is now heading into historic elections and all eyes are on the long-repressed Islamists. The focus of the world is on Ennahda Party. Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda Party, had vowed to uphold democracy, yet it is bent on imposing a theocracy that would roll back hard-won secularism and women’s rights. Some say that this is an opportunity to bring a moderate form of political Islam into the Arab world. The Ennahda Party was brutally crushed by overthrown dictator Ben Ali in the 1990s, a policy tacitly approved by Western powers wary of militant Islam. Ennahda has explicitly pledged to champion democratic values and women’s rights, but its secular critics warn the party has a secret agenda to impose hardline Islam. Once in power, many warn, Ennahda would swiftly seek to put its Islamist stamp on this tourist-friendly nation of 10 million. Tunisia’s post-independence 1956 personal status code was unique in the Middle East and outlawed polygamy, mandated the woman’s approval to get married and set limits on the man’s power to divorce. It also declared men and women to be equal in terms of rights and citizenship. (Inputs AP)

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