Tunisia: Gannouchi reaches out to Jewish community

'You are an integral part of Tunisia' says Ennahda leader

22 November, 14:07

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, NOVEMBER 22 - Ennahda party founder and chairman Rachid al-Gannouchi has met with Tunisian Grand Rabbi Ham Bittan in what is a highly symbolic gesture at a time when Tunisian Jews are being targeted, threatened and intimidated by Islamic fundamentalists.

    On his Facebook page, Gannouchi explained that he invited the rabbi to the meeting because he wanted to hear about the community's concerns directly.

    While Tunisian Jews have dwindled to just over 2,000 people in a country whose population is 98% Muslim, the community has been an integral part of the nation's history for thousands of years. The most ancient synagogue in Africa is located in Djerba.

    ''The Jewish community is an integral part of the Tunisian people. The common denominator of all Tunisians is their love for the country that preserves their dignity. We share in nation-building together, thanks to our religious and intellectual diversity within the framework of unity, coexistence, and mutual acceptance'', Gannouchi wrote.

    A profoundly religious man who has been aired for a possible nomination to lead the powerful and influential International Union of Muslim Scholars, Gannouchi has taken pains to stress that Tunisians are all equal, no matter their creed.

    This unequivocal stand is meant to distance Ennahda, a moderate Sunni Muslim party, from the extremist Sunni Salafist fringes, which have openly attacked Tunisia's Jews and engaged in terrorist acts.

    It could also be a way for Gannouchi to take on the more radical elements within Ennahda: their increasing outspokenness could prove to be a political boomerang for his party, which has been losing ground in popular opinion polls. (ANSAmed).

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