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Rached Ghannouchi
Arabic: shid 'al-ghannūshiyyPlay sound

Rached Ghannouchi

Ca. 1980.

Rached Ghannouchi

Ca. 2000.

(1941-) Tunisian politician, exiled Islamist leader of the party, or rather movement, An-Nahda.
His expressed views have a framework of liberal Islamism, and among his positive words are pluralism, democracy, rights for women and non-Muslims. Still, all this is defined and bound by Islamic ideas, and all from democracy to women's rights is accepted only to the point that is permitted by Islam.
So while many see him as a moderate Islamist, noted for his anti-violence and expressed rejection of the ideas of Sayyid Qutb, others consider him two-tongued. But it must be noted that the two-tongue stamp is often used indiscriminantly for all conservative Muslim and spokesmen. He has in some aspects tended to exaggerate, in one case wrongly accusing the US government for closing down mosques.
While he states that women liberation is confined by regulations of Islam, he still maintains that reform of Islamic interpretation is required, pointing at Islamic regulation being to harsh for many, and also expressing criticism that Muslim societies have had its fair share of decadence, not only Western societies.
Non-Muslims shall have access to all positions in society except the presidency and other leadership roles. But non-Muslims are required to accept the fundamental systems of Islam, and have no right to challenge the position of Islam.
Living in Europe for more than 20 years, he appears to have become more radical, closing in on the ideas of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and has adopted statements about the right to kill apostates and opponents. He also supports suicide bombers acting against Israel.
He has been in exile in Europe since 1988, has lived in London since 1989, protected by an asylum status.

1941 June 22: Born in El-Hamma, as son of an imam.
1962: Graduates from Islamic studies in Tunis.
1968: Obtains a university license in philosophy in Damascus, Syria.
1968-1969While studying at Sorbonne in Paris, France, he joins the Jamaat Tabligh group.
1969: Returns to Tunisia, begins teaching philosophy.
1970: Starts the group, Jama'at al-Islamiyya, which has great focus on fighting the westernization of Tunisian society.
1973: Jama'at al-Islamiyya is banned by the authorities.
1981 April: Founds the Al-Ittijah al-Islamiyy, Movement for Islamic Tendency (MIT).
July Ghannouchi and his followers are arrested, and eventually sentenced to 11 years in prison.
1984: Released from prison.
1987: Imprisoned again, now with a life sentence.
1988: Despite the life sentence, Ghannouchi is released from prison. He now moves to Europe.
1993: Is granted asylum in United Kingdom.
2001: Expresses support of suicide bombers that attack targets in Israel.
2011 January 30: During the ongoing Tunisian Revolution, Ghannouchi returns to Tunisia. He is received by a large crowd of supporters, but makes declarations that is not a new Khomeini.

By Tore Kjeilen