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The Muslim Public Affairs Council says it condemns Hamas and “all terrorism, including suicide bombing.” Yet, it is praising the Tunisian Islamist leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, who supports almost everything that MPAC claims to be against. MPAC even arranged two speaking engagements for the Muslim Brotherhood member on November 29, with one taking place inside Capitol Hill’s Canon Office Building.
In its announcement of the events, MPAC complimented Ghannouchi “One of the most important figures in modern Islamic political thought and theory.” As the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports, the director of MPAC’s office in Washington D.C. said he is a “modern intellectual giant on Islam and governance.”
MPAC asserts that Ghannouchi has “long been an advocate of the Islamic principles of pluralism, freedom and democracy,” leaving its supporters completely unaware of the extremism he has long advocated. This includes Sharia-based governance, Hamas, suicide bombings, terrorism, anti-Westernism, the destruction of Israel and even the murdering of Israeli children.
His radical preaching seems to have been forgotten since he modified his message in the wake of the Arab Spring. As a result of his self-proclaimed “moderate” views and careful messaging, his Ennahda Party won over 40% of the vote in Tunisia. MPAC is now party to Ghannouchi’s makeover. While MPAC assures us that his past is admirable, his own quotes raise the question of whether MPAC’s contribution to Ghannouchi’s public relations campaign is out of design or ignorance.
In 2005, John C. Zimmerman wrote an article for the Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies titled, “Roots of Conflict: The Islamist Critique of Western Value.” It included many little-known quotes from Ghannouchi that, when combined with the quotes that are more available, easily dispel the presentation of Ghannouchi as a “moderate.”
In a recent interview with Foreign Policy, Ghannouchi claims, “There is no one in [his party] that believes in extremist views of Islam” or that “violence is a means of change or to keep power” or that “jihad is a way to impose Islam on the world.”
However, Zimmerman brings to light another quote from him: “There are no civilians in Israel. The population—males, females and children—are the army reserve soldiers, and thus can be killed.” He explicitly states that Israeli children are legitimate targets. In 2001, he congratulated mothers who raise their children to be suicide bombers. In 2002, he signed a joint statement with leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood advocating jihad against Israel because the “Zionists” supposedly want to “destroy the entire Islamic ummah.”
When Hamas and Fatah clashed, he chose the side of Hamas because it is “maintaining the resistance” but Fatah has “given up the choice of jihad.” He happily predicts that the Arab Spring will result in the destruction of Israel, citing the prediction of one of Hamas’ top leaders that it will cease to exist by 2027. Ghannouchi gleefully said he thinks it will happen even sooner. The Ennahda Party recently had a representative of Hamas come speak in Tunisia who said that the “liberation of Tunisia will, Allah willing, bring about the liberation of Jerusalem.”
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