I’ve been harshly criticized for writing here that Islamic supremacists are trying to take advantage of the “Jasmine Revolution” and impose Sharia in Tunisia; now you can add Time Magazine to the ranks of the greasy Islamophobes.
“How Tunisia’s Once-Suppressed Islamists Are Re-Emerging,” by Rania Abouzeid in Time, January 21 (thanks to Maxwell):
[…] As Tunisians revel in their newfound freedom, the long-suppressed Islamists, like everyone else, are trying to figure out what role they can and want to have in the new Tunisia. Ennahdha leaders — including the party’s exiled founder Rachid Ghannouchi, who is waiting to return from London — have been quick to reject fears that they espouse, let alone want to impose, a radical Islamic view.
Many Tunisians interviewed by TIME in the week since Ben Ali’s spectacular fall, say there’s room for everyone, as long as their political agendas are clear. “We don’t want to live in a new dictatorship whether it claims to have heavenly or earthly credibility,” says Amene, 22, a university student who has been protesting in Tunis’s main Avenue Habib Bourguiba every day for weeks. A black-and-white keffiyeh, the symbol of Palestinian resistance, around her neck, the Chinese-language major says she doesn’t want the Islamists to be sidelined. “On the contrary. I think everyone can be represented but we want fair and real elections.” (The idea of a new beginning and a clean slate was reinforced on Friday when Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi he would step from office and leave politics as soon as new elections were held.)
During a 30-minute sermon, the imam of Al-Quds mosque urged worshippers to take advantage of “this current change” and vote. He didn’t suggest who they should vote for, but cautioned that this opportunity should not be squandered. “Our future is in our hands,” he said. “The [Arab] regimes don’t want us to succeed, they want us to fail so they can tell their people ‘look at how Tunis has failed.’ We must accept each other and unite, because there is strength in unity. This is our country.”
Many of the hundreds of men streaming out of Al-Quds Mosque on Friday, some clean-shaven in sharp business suits, others with chin-length beards and no moustaches, were all eager to stress national unity and warn against attempts to sow division. “Tunisia needs all of its children, even some of those in the RCD,” says Rida, 32, using the initials of the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally. “We don’t have extremism, people like to frighten others with labels,” says Shawki, 34. Still, he follows up with a view that might give pause to some Tunisians. “God has given us our constitution, the Koran. Give me the Koran and the Sunna [sayings of the Prophet],” he says.
The worshippers claim that in a bid to stifle the influence of the mosques, Ben Ali restricted their operating hours to 30 minutes a day, five times a day during prayer times. Abdel Kouki, 57, says he wants the “liberation of the mosques.” Former U.S President George W. Bush was responsible for sowing fear of Islam, he says, a view Ben Ali enthusiastically propagated to clamp down on opponents. “We are not backward terrorists,” Kouki says. “Muslims don’t have to have blue eyes to be modern.”…