Rashid al-Ghannushi

Tunisian islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi
Tunisian islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi 

Rashid al-Ghannushi (راشد الغنوشي, Rāšid al-Ġannūšī[1], born 1941) is a Tunisian politician who co-founded the Ennahda Movement, currently the largest party in Tunisia. He has been called the party’s “intellectual leader”.[2] He is one of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers, writing on Islam and modernity, democracy and secularism, relations between East and West, human rights and civil society and his writings have had an influence on political and religious thought across the Arab and Muslim worlds. He was named as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012[3]and Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers[4] and was awarded the Chatham House Prize 2012 (alongside Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki) by His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG, for “the successful compromises each achieved during Tunisia’s democratic transition”.[5][6]

Early life

Al-Ghannushi was born outside El Hamma, in the Qabis province of southern Tunisia. He received his certificate of attainment degree, equivalent to the Baccalauréat, in 1962 from the University of Zaytuna. He entered the school of agriculture at Cairo University in 1964 but, following the expulsion of Tunisians from Egypt, he left for Syria. He studied philosophy at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1968.

 Islamic Tendency Movement

In April 1981 Al-Ghannushi founded the “al-ittijah al-islami” or Islamic Tendency Movement. The Movement described itself as specifically rooted innon-violent Islam, and called for a “reconstruction of economic life on a more equitable basis, the end of single-party politics and the acceptance of political pluralism and democracy.” By the end of July, Al-Ghannushi and his followers were arrested, sentenced to eleven years in prison in Bizerte, and were tortured. Both the religious and secular community, including numerous secular political organizations, rallied in his support.[7] He was released in 1984, but returned to prison in 1987 with a life sentence, then was again released in 1988. He moved to Europe as a political exile, where he lived for decades.[2]
He attended The Islamic Committee for Palestine conference in Chicago in 1989.[8] Following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Al-Ghannushi denounced King Fahd of Saudi Arabia for the “colossal crime” of inviting the U.S. to deploy forces.[9] He also called for a Muslim boycott of American goods, planes and ships.[9] President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.[1] Following popular unrest in which Ben Ali was ousted, Ghannushi returned to Tunisia on 30 January 2011, after spending twenty two years exiled in London .[10]

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