I put “Islamist” in quotation marks because the longtime leader of Ennahda, Rachid Ghannouchi, has reportedly stated his opposition to the imposition of Sharia in Tunisia, or at least has appeared to do so. How an advocate for political Islam can oppose Sharia is unclear.
“Tunisia legalises Islamist group Ennahda,” from the BBC, March 1 (thanks to Twostellas):
Tunisia’s interim government has legalised Ennahda, the moderate Islamist group banned under former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
The move paves the way for Ennahda to form a political party to stand in elections expected later this year. […]
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, who had retained the office he held under Mr Ben Ali, resigned on Sunday in a bid to end street protests.
But the protesters who helped bring down Mr Ben Ali were furious that so many of his former allies were included in the interim government, and continued their protests.
The legalisation of Ennahda was another of the protesters’ demands.
What? Aren’t they pushing for secular democracy?
The group’s 69-year-old leader Rachid Ghannouchi (no relation) arrived back in Tunisia at the end of January after more than 20 years in exile.
He was greeted at the airport by thousands of his supporters, suggesting the group has maintained some of its popularity.
In 1989 Ennahda came second to the ruling party in elections, officially winning about 17% of the ballot in a count widely suspected to favour the ruling party.
The party was banned shortly afterwards, and Mr Ghannouchi fled the country during a crackdown by the Ben Ali regime….