Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party, has said the punishment of flogging should be introduced against people who are charged of slander, in reference to a female blogger who published documents accusing his son-in-law of corruption and of extramarital affair.
The Islamist leader said during a Friday sermon that the content published by Tunisian blogger Olfa Riahi reflects “values of hypocrites” punishable according to the Shariah law.
Female blogger Riahi had published what she said were authentic documents accusing Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem of having paid for nights he spent with a woman in Sheraton hotel from the government’s coffers.
Riahi said the hotel receipts and billing information she obtained beat the names of the minister and his alleged mistress. In an interview with alchourouk.com, Riahi said it took her two and half months to verify the authenticity of the documents and trace the bill payments.
“I have the bank account of the foreign ministry and I am certain the documents are authentic,” calling on the authorities to open a probe into the “scandal.”
The minister appeared in the state television dismissing the allegations as part of a plot against his Islamist government. He said he expects similar accusations to be leveled against other ministers.
But he admitted staying at the Sheraton hotel “because he does not own a house in the capital and because the hotel was near his office.” He also admitted that the woman mentioned in Riahi’s documents was true, but said she was a “relative” who came to see him at the hotel.
Mondir Thabet, a Tunisian political analyst said Ghannouchi’s statement was a rejection of the country’s civilian status and “a clear call for imposing Shariah.”
Ziad Krichan, editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper “al-Maghrib” said Ghannouchi’s call reflects the Islamists unable to separate religion from politics.