people need to know يحتاج الناس إلى معرفته
Now after Nice foolish attack and Turkey failed golpe it became extremely hard gives voice to reason issues. But we want keep up in proposing point of views out of official “narratives”. This article was published on July the 1st in the magazine Derin Ekonomi, in Turkish language. The Albayrak publisher is known to be not far from Erdogan position. This is a fact. As well is a fact that indipendent journalism could find room even in the socalled “regime” of Erdogan. As well history will put on the shoulders of actors their responsabilities. Even for the case of Erdogan. Now that news about Turkey are driven by “guts” instead by brain it is an utmost task stay on track on “truth” with all the limitations about that it could means.
Ennahda (Renaissance in Arabic), the Tunisian party inspired by Islam religious culture and linked to Muslim Brotherhood network, has taken a strategic decision. During the last congress in May, Rashed Gannouchi was confirmed as party president and he decided to leave “political Islam” to pursue a “Muslim democracy”. “We are Muslim democrats who no longer refer to political Islam. Ennahda is a democratic, civil party whose points of reference are Muslim and modern civilizational values”, stated the old leader who in the transition period granted concessions to its secular opponents to preserve the country’s stability.
It seems to see a déjà vu as it happened in 2002, mutatis mutandis, for the Turkish Akp party borne from the dust of the Refah party which was declared outlaw, when Turkey appeared to be a new model for all Islamic MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) countries. A chance to stabilize the Great Middle East area, through a Muslim NATO member. This wishful project ended with a political power war between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fetullah Gulen (as it was read abroad) and with the Ankara government strongly perceiving to be targeted by a “standard” regime change operation, taking advantage of a still powerful secularist elite and a spreading discontent due to a long time ruling of Akp. An ordinary trend in any democracy would suggest a period of opposition after a long run in government, to rebuild a political framework and the deep feelings with the people. The last elections’ outcome showed that the bond between the Turkish government and the Turkish people were still strong at least.
But the Tunisian situation is very different, and it cannot match with the Turkey of fourteen years ago. It is too early to talk of a rise of a new Muslim political project for the MENA area. But the formula “Muslim democracy” means a lot of things – first of all it could be the first step to weaken the bonds from the Gulf Wahhabism, a key passage to overcome the reform-unfriendly “literalistic” version of Islam to embrace a “modern” way to translate ruling Islam, splitting the political and the religious fields, like in Morocco. But little Tunisia could be even a litmus test for a different approach to the “Islamic issue” finally, something that could give a compass to Ankara too to go out of the “political” corner and resume to its international role as great regional actor.
Basically the Gannouchi statement waken what was one of the two great problem in post-Spring phase: the secular “radicalism”, Mohammed Arkoun style, just to take a scholar qualified example. The belief that religion couldn’t match with modernity.
The other, the greatest problem, is the ultra-radicalism, violent radicalism, fighting jihadism, or whatever name we want give to it, a mindset well described in the Holy Quran, al Taubah 9, 97: “the Bedouin are stronger in disbelief and hypocrisy and more likely they don’t know the limits of the laws Allah has revealed to His Messenger”. “Without limits” we cannot find a better definition for the heinous behaving of Islamic State and its associates.
This is the main problem in this post-revolution years and, as by product, it produces a reaction – the new rise of secularistic activism, already in a really bad shape all over the developed world. “Bedouin” Wahhabism (Gulf Style) and “secular” radicalism are faces of the same coin and produced a dangerous stand still in post-revolutionary period. Both are rusty religious/cultural tools coming from the past and both have no viable answers for the present. Despite North Africa and the Middle East have had in the recent past and present several qualified academics, thinkers, clerics and philosophers with the right answers to bring Islam into “modernity”. But since the post-World War Two period, politics and the general culture were not fertile ground for them. Socialism and communism suggested the religion file could be erased; the Nasserism did more, it used Islam’s conservatism and radicalism one against the other: divide et impera. As well all regional regimes did. Furthermore, Wahhabi foundations, rich of petro-dollars, shaped the public and academic image of Islam since the thirties of the past century, even in Western Universities, with publishing activities and funding scholarships, establishing madrasses around the Muslim world and charity assets, promoting and supporting studies for poor people. So nobody took care about a reform of Islam. And those who could lead this project just fell in the shadow corner of political and cultural society. Then came a turning point that became a game changer: the “Six Days War”. This conflict was read in different way in Western and Muslim countries.
The former simply translated the military and political outcome: Israel was a mighty country that the West could rely on in a Cold War era. For Muslims, the translation was very different. That was the defeat of a secular regime (Nasserism) by a Religious State (Israel). Since that point radical movements rose again and fundamentalism in several declinations took roots in Arab societies.
In Western media we are used to be surprised when we find some Muslim thinker, usually from the past and generally a Sufi, that wrote about Islam listing common values with Occident civilization. That because the near-total ignorance about the Islam history and the modern record of Muslim reformist scholars.
Apologizing for the limits of this shortcut list, I can quote just some of them, like Tunisian neoriformist Mohamed Talbi and his concept of “membership” in Islam and the “acceptance of the others”. He did more. Talbi suggested to deconstruct the sharia monolithic stance based on umma and igma; the Egyptian modernist Muhammed Said Achmaoui with his book Al Islam al Siyyasi (The Political Islam) a critic to the political use of religion, based on a new interpretation of Alì Abd al-Raziq. Basically he stated that Islamist movements pretend to use a “Muslim political theory” that never existed. Again a Tunisian modernist as Mohamed Charfi with his book Islam et Liberté (2001) that track a way that make possible to match Islam and modernity as well did the other two monotheistic religions. The Sudanese reformist Mahmud Muhammad Taha and his The Second Message of Islam, that was the reason of his death sentence in 1985.
Now the little and still fragile Tunisian “democracy” is taking a great burden on its shoulders. It is the country that ignited the so-called Arab Spring and the only one where things have not turned wrong yet. Tunisia could become a local actor (as well Egypt even if in really bad shape) helping Libya stabilization if it can manage such a massive task. On the other hand, the World Bank’s 5-billion dollars package and Paris 1-million euro economic support could be a useful relief to strengthen the weak Tunisian economy, still featuring a high rate of unemployment and security problems (although Washington finally decided to support the Tunisian security framework). A restart that shed light on Turkey, the old leading partner of Mslim Brotherhood political project, now struggling to rebuild a sound international and regional stance.
Published on Derin Ekonomi Turkish magazine, July 2016 issue