Upon self-immolating in the streets of Sidi Bouzid, Mohamed Bouazizi had no idea that Tunisia would hand over its soul to the Muslim Brotherhood [MB]. He did not think for a second that his country, which prides itself on its well-established secular legacy, would soon become one of the countries exporting fighters to ISIS. He did not think that the corruption that suffocated Tunisians under Ben Ali would proliferate even more under Ghannouchi.
The momentum of the Arab Spring undoubtedly confused analyzes, as observers failed to differentiate between Tunisia as a model for peaceful change, and the distinguished peacefulness of the MB in Tunisia. A decade later, it has become clear that the MB’s common ideology around the world surpasses the common denominator between compatriots.
Problems amassed in Tunisia following the MB’s control over the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and its indirect leadership of the Government. Agriculture and tourism plummeted while corruption became terrifyingly rampant. The final straw was a surge in COVID-19 infections.
To stop this bleeding and undertake reforms that respond to popular appeals and fall in line with the country’s interests, President Kais Saied resorted to Article 80 of the Constitution. Soon enough, the MB brandished threats of violence and attempted a sit-in in the Parliament, in a striking resemblance to how Egypt’s MB responded to Mursi’s removal.
After the President announced his decision, the MB were quick to mourn democracy and raise the same populist chants raised during the Arab Spring, evoking coups d’états here and accusing Saied of dictatorship there. Never mind that they had likened him to Omar bin al-Khattab a mere few days before: for they always bet on people’s short memory.
If we were to mourn democracy, we would remember how MP Sahbi Samara of the Dignity Coalition -- Ennahda’s violent wing -- attacked MP Abir Moussi, who was also subject to another attack later at the hands of MP Seifeddine Makhlouf, head of the same Coalition, for standing up to Ennahda’s project and its connection to foreign agendas.
In a way, Moussi represented Tunisia standing up to the MB’s ideology and all that they represent. It was no surprise, then, that a desperate Ghannouchi prevented her guards from entering the Parliament, which pushed her to wear a helmet and a bulletproof vest under the dome of the Assembly and reveal that the MB is planning to assassinate her.
By debunking the myth of moderate Political Islam, Tunisia is helping to establish an understanding of the MB’s ideology: for every suit-donning MB politician, the group has a fighter with an explosive belt lurking in the shadows. They are two sides of the same coin: the objective is the same; the method is different.
The MB leveraged the Arab Spring and the US support for those waves of protests to create a soft façade for their movement and purchase a one-way ticket to the ballots. With intensive propaganda focused on formalities, the movement attempted to hide its true agenda and solid regional ties.
Had they not taken the reins of government, the MB and their false slogans would not have been exposed. As such, with its well-established legacy and cultural depth, Tunisia is at a historical juncture that will lead it to the future it deserves and do the Arab World a favor by driving the last nail into the Muslim Brotherhood’s coffin.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi newspaper Okaz.
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