Pietro Longo


Middle East Studies Center

Author's Department

Middle East Studies Center

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Working Paper Series

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This Working Paper aims at analyzing the discourses about the takfiri movements that rose in Tunisia after the Jasmine revolution. The victory of the Islamist party al-Nahda at the NCA elections in October 2011 provoked concerns about the rise of salafi groups. Between 2011 and 2012 several politicians, businessmen and journalists were accused of kufr by the salafi group Ansar al-Shari‘a. The reaction of Tunisian society was strong and even inside the NCA a debate on the future of takfirism broke out. The discussion between deputes sitting in the NCA ended with the adoption of the Constitutional provision that forbids takfiri practices (article 6).

This study explores the official positions of al-Nahda about the relationship between salafism and takfirism, through the analysis of official statements, booklets and interviews personally conducted in Tunisia with members of al-Nahda. While the position of this party towards salafism is known, my aim is to uncover what al-Nahda considers as takfir. In his masterpiece, al-Hurriyat al-‘Amma fi’l- Dawla al-Islamiyya, al-Ghannushi states that the Muslim community must regain its spaces where exercise the interpretation of the sources of the Islamic law, after the collapse of former regimes. Moreover, in many occasion al-Ghannushi said that the salafis recalled his youngness when he harshly militated in favor of the Palestinians’ rights. Shaykh al-Ghannushi is part of the famous sunni stream of thought known as Wasitiyya which formally accepts the western idea of democracy not only as a political philosophy but also as a governmental tool. Exploring the ideas of al-Nahda about takfirism uncovers its sincere willingness not to monopolize the Islamic discourse, and, at the same time, it will open the way to a concrete religious pluralism for the sake of the Tunisian democratic transition.

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