A radical movement can become moderate when it joins the political process of democracy; a moderate movement can become radical when the doors of the political process are shut in its face.
In the Arab world, Islamist Jihadist movements believe in Islamisation from the top down, meaning through the use of violence. Jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb only believe in using weapons.
But what does this mean for moderate Islamist movements such as Tunisia’s Ennahda?
Ennahda is now at the head of the Tunisian government, following the 2011 Tunisian uprising.
Both Salafi and Wahhabi movements are now carrying out acts of intimidation and violence against soft targets, namely intellectuals and journalists, such as the assault on journalist Ziad Krishan and professor and thinker Hammadi Redissi.
Conservative elements also mobilised protests following the broadcast of the Iranian movie “Perspepolis” on Nessma TV, and carried out acts of violence against the art exhibit at the Palais Abdellia.
Ennahda’s response to these events was ambiguous. Ennahda does not want to clash with these violent movements, not only because it needs their voices for the March 20, 2013 elections but also because they serve to intimidate secular leftists and progressives opponents.
Ennahda cannot benefit from this duality forever. It will either favour democracy, or it will deal with radical movements.
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