The Guardian has a shameful record on Tunisia. Mugabe fan Jonathan Steele defamed Tunisian secularists as 'Islamophobes' (presumably after complaining about being smeared as an anti-Semite for criticizing Israel). Rachad Ghannoushi's daughters Soumaya and Intissar received guardian columns to promote Ennahda propaganda. The guardian only voiced tepid criticism of Tunisia's discriminatory constitution which bars non-Muslims from the presidential office. Imagine the reaction if Israel made it illegal for non-Jews to serve as head of state.
Sherelle Jacobs continues this shameful tradition with 'how to deal with Tunisia's Salafists.'
The article's (ab)use of the word 'moderate' is cringe inducing even compared to most CIF articles she describes Tunisia's state as 'moderate.' Ghannouchi dedicated a book to many of history's worst theocrats, voiced supported for terrorism, incited murder and parroted the nazi Franklin prophecy conspiracy theory. Chokri Belaïd's murderers are tied to a militia backed by the state which has criminalized homosexuality and passed enshrined discrimination against non-Muslims into law. She claims that "salafists have highly varying views and not all are dangerous. That includes Ansar al-Sharia members." The article features no evidence for the fantasy of moderate Salafis, even her own article depicts Ansar al-Sharia or AaSholes as violent; the m-word is rendered a meaningless moot apologist cliche.
Jacobs warns that "banning an annual conference and obstructing preachers could make Salafists who are against violence more tempted to use it out of frustration." Its interesting to see the blowback justification formula applied to possible violence committed against Muslims by Muslims. (Were the car bombings in Turkey 'blowback' for Turkish foreign policy in Syria?) She disproves her talk of moderate Salafis: peaceful movements do not resort to violence because of something so trivial as a banned conference.
Jacobs thinks that Tunisia should make a "distinction between three types of Salafists – scripturalist Salafists who are apolitical and only interested in proselytising; jihadist Salafists who are against using violence domestically (a group that includes some Ansar al-Sharia members); and jihadist Salafists who champion domestic terrorism. Ennahda should tolerate the first lot; pull the second lot into mainstream politics; and come down hard on the third group through targeted anti-terrorism operations." The second category is nonsense the article mentions " jihadists with links to al-Qaida lurking on Tunisia's border with Algeria" by her reasoning men who support, fund or even join Algerian militants are "moderates" who belong in mainstream politics!
Sherelle incessantly characterizes AaS as nice guys how just want to get along but only provides evidence to support the opposite conclusion. She claims that they "favor militancy abroad" in "Afghanistan and Syria" (so they just want to bomb Kabul schoolgirls, how moderate). She contradicts herself by stating that the group's "leader has threatened to wage war on the government. Elements of the group have been blamed for an attack on the US embassy in Tunis last September." Her own words disprove her claim that the group is "staunchly" against domestic violence.
In an attempt to defend AaS she praises for "halal tourism" explaining "Ansar al-Sharia wants Tunisia to focus less on the traditional western tourist market and target a Muslim market, especially from Europe." So Tunisia should bring a violent extremist cult into what passes for its mainstream because of a shortsighted plan that could limit tourism revenue by focusing on a single demographic, another example of Poe's law from the guardian.
Jacobs hails AaS for supporting "Islamic trade unionism, financial reforms and tackling education inequality" and for running "local services." That only proves that AaS has the sense to pursue populist PR performances that characterize countless extremist populist movements. By her reasoning Colombia should have responded to narco-terrorism by allying with 'moderate' drug lords many of whom (Escobar included) gave away millions to the poor
She argues that "jihadist Salafists are more likely to moderate their views" if integrated into the government! A vile anti-democratic proposition since AaS has no democratic mandate from a people Jacobs wishes to be lorded over by people who are to the right of Jobbik. She reduces Tunisians to a people without agency who must accept further corruption of their sublime nation by bestial monomaniacs, an implicitly racist argument. Lincoln couldn't have been more correct when he said that "f you want to test a man's character, give him power." There is no need to appraise AaS that way, life has countless mysteries but the nature of AaS's membership is not among their number.
The act of integrating Salafis would only embolden them as they would see it as a victory. Why should hypothetical Salafis in power moderate their views when in her scenario it was their ideology that got them into power via an appeasement deal? Besides according to Jacobs aren't they already 'moderates?' Jacobs' plan would only advance the infection of Salafi ideology, any appeasement deal would only attract followers since it would be seen as a path to power. During the Israeli elections the guardian preached doomsday scenarios predicting a rise of the "Israeli right" which failed to materialize, now they publish material advocating the rise of Tunisia's worst far-rightists. The guardian once again betrays Tunisian secularists by arguing that people who fantasize about gutting them should be allowed to rule over and ruin the pearl of the Maghreb.