Islamist head says ‘Tunisia model’ way to defeat IS

TUNIS — Tunisia’s transition to democracy serves as an example of how to defeat extremists such as the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, the leader of the country’s powerful Islamist movement said.

“The success of the Tunisian experience is in the international interest, especially in the fight against extremism and the fight against Islamic State and similar groups,” Ennahda head Rached Ghannouchi said in an interview with AFP in the runup to the country’s first parliamentary election on Sunday since its 2011 revolution.

“The Tunisian model is the alternative to the Daesh model… This Tunisian model… brings together Islam and secularism, Islam and democracy, Islam and freedom for women,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the IS which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.

“One of the best ways to fight terrorism is to advocate moderate Islam because terrorism is based on an extremist interpretation of Islam,” said Ghannouchi, whose party has emerged as the leading political force in Tunisia in the aftermath of the revolt which ousted longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Often hailed as a rare success story following the Arab Spring uprisings that swept much of the region three years ago, the North African nation hopes the vote will be a highlight of a sometimes troubled transition.

Tunisia has grappled with social unrest over a weak economy, violence blamed on Islamists, and attacks by militant groups including Al Qaeda loyalists.

A member of the security forces was killed on Thursday in a firefight with armed “terrorists” in the town of Oued Ellil a few kilometres from the capital, the authorities said.

Jihadists were blamed for last year’s assassination of two leftist politicians whose murders plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.


Categories: Africa, Tunisia

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