Tunisia's Islamist party Ennahda chooses Jewish candidate as head of list
FETHI BELAID (AFP)
The Islamist party Ennahda has chosen a Tunisian Jew, Simon Slama, as its nominee in the municipal elections of Monastir, a city located a hundred kilometers south of Tunis.
The move has been hailed as a triumph following Ennahda’s campaign initiated last year to differentiate "political Islam" from the party's religious roots.
Ennahda was founded as "The Movement of Islamic Tendency" in 1981, inspired by the Iranian Revolution and Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The president and leader of the party, Rached Ghannouchi, announced the “historic” turn at Ennahda’s Tenth Congress last May, calling a vote for separation between political activities and religion, reforming it into a “civil party".
According to several local media interviews with Simon Slama, known as the "specialist of sewing machines", he was well received by the party and offered to be the head of the list in Monastir as an independent candidate, according to FM Mosaïque.
He also expressed his "pride" to participate in the elections, affirming that Ennahda was a "secular" party and that his Jewish faith in "no way prevented" him from running
"Our lists are open to independents, which includes Mr. Simon Slama. What could be more normal? This is part of the choice that was made after the 10th Party Congress to open itself to all Tunisian women and men, from all backgrounds and nationalities,” the spokesperson of Ennahda, Imed Khemiri, told the site Sputnik.
Meanwhile, Slama will not be the only Jewish candidate on the electoral lists, Khemiri said.
This candidacy sparked a lot of reactions in Tunisia.
The president of the El Ghriba Synagogue Association, Perez Trabelsi, said that Slama's candidacy did not involve the support of the Tunisian Jewish community.
The Tunisian municipal elections will take place on May 6th.
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Potentially remarkable. Time will tell.