Posted tagged ‘Tunisia’

Tunisian Religious Reforms Challenge Egypt’s Al Azhar

September 19, 2017

Tunisian Religious Reforms Challenge Egypt’s Al Azhar, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Hany Ghoraba, September 19, 2017

(Please see also, Look Who’s Fighting Extremism. — DM)

Essebsi is implementing reforms he deems necessary for his country’s social progress. These reforms already are having a ripple effect in the region and might lead to further social progress. Essebsi has done what al-Sisi called for about for more than two years ago, but never took any tangible steps to implement. These reforms may be not exactly what al-Sisi wanted when he called for a complete change of Islamic rhetoric that shuns all forms of extremism and violence. Nevertheless, Essebsi’s reforms are a bold step forward for total social and religious reforms that the Middle East desperately needs.


Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi marched straight into a battle with Egypt’s highest Sunni authority, Al-Azhar’s mosque and university, when he proposed social and religious reforms giving women more freedom in marriage and guaranteeing them equal inheritance rights.

A substantial part of that agenda became law last Thursday when Tunisia’s parliament ended the ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men. It is a direct result of controversial reforms Essebsi proposed, ending a ban imposed in 1973.This was done while proposing new law to secure gender equality in inheritance rights.

Egypt’s Al Azhar has ferociously condemned these reforms as un-Islamic, contradicting what it called the “Fundamentals of the Faith.” Marriage to non-Muslims may harm Muslim women due to differences in faith and traditions and could lead to women being prohibited from practicing their faith freely, said Al Azhar Deputy Imam Abbas Shoman.

Essebsi’s proposals mark the first time the leader of a Muslim-majority nation personally announced critical social reforms, which also include giving women equal inheritance to men despite traditional Shari’a-based laws. These reforms aim for gender equality in Tunisia.

Al-Azhar also opposes the inheritance changes, Shoman said, saying they contradict the Quran’s guidance. “Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females,” it says.

Though not wielding the same influence as the Vatican Pope’s over Catholics, the moral authority wielded over Muslims by Al Azhar’s grand imam is recognized in all four corners of the globe. Al Azhar once represented a pillar of modernity and moderation in the Islamic world, but that changed when ultra-conservative Wahhabism and Muslim Brotherhood Jihadist doctrine ascended during the 1950s. More radical Salafi doctrines became part of the core curriculum.

Opposing Modernity

Essebsi’s call for gender equality is a step toward a secular path, which is a radical departure from most predominantly-Muslim countries. It’s not surprising, therefore, that it generated a storm of protest and condemnation from the Al Azhar sheikhdom (administration). To them, Tunisia’s reforms counter straight-forward Quranic versesconcerning the distribution of the inheritance between women and men and marriage to non-Muslims.

Those verses dictate that a man receives twice as much inheritance as a woman. That’s because men traditionally pay for the expenses of the house that includes the family’s women until they get married and move into their own homes. Thus, a man should acquire twice as much as his sister or women counterpart to carry on with his duties. That mayhave made sense 1,400 years ago, but in the 21stcentury that is hardly the case anymore.

Women have attained huge milestones in the past two centuries and even in the Muslim majority nations. For example, Egypt’s feminist movement started in the early 20th century, and by the 1950s, Egyptian women had voting rights even before women in Switzerland. Egypt has a major representation of women in all political, economic and social fields. Countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Turkey had a female presidents or prime ministers.Today, more than a third of Egyptian households are financed by women, the Egyptian National Centre for Social and Criminological Research (NCSCR) reports.

The issue of Muslim women marrying non-Muslims has been a source of debate and conflict for centuries. Advocates of Tunisia’s reforms argue that the Quranic verses governing marriage outside the faith apply to men and women. The only prohibition is marrying an atheist or a follower of polytheistic religions.

Nevertheless, for more than 1,400 years it became the norm that Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men. Scholars argued Muslim women who married outside the faith might not be free to practicing their religion. Reform advocates believe that 21st century women freely choose their own life partners and are aware of any consequences.

Renouncing Al Azhar’s criticism, Essebsi condemned “foreign interference” in internal Tunisian affairs. Tunisian religious bodies, including the Diwan of Fatwa, support his reforms.

Counter-Reform Syndicate

Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb was reputed to be a moderate Sufist who many in Egypt hoped would counter the growing influence of the university’s radical alumni. Alas, he has faced criticism from liberal Egyptian intellectuals and secularists for blocking any tangible Islamic reforms. During his reign, Al Azhar has waged witch hunts against Egyptian Islamic reformers such as Islam Al-Beheiry. Al-Beheiry spent a year in prison for blasphemy because he dared to condemn some major Islamic traditionalist scholars’ works, calling them the source of modern terrorist ideologies. He was later released after being granted a presidential pardon.

More than two years ago, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a historic call for a religious revolution targeting interpretations and misconceptions of religious scripture that drives jihadist ideologies. Al-Azhar’s sheikhdom met the call with defiance, despite displaying fake enthusiasm for the government and the media. As a result, no new laws have been introduced and no curricula have changed with Al Azhar’s influence on Egyptian state affairs is growing stronger.

Yet al-Sisi is not challenging the religious institution enough out of fear that the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Salafists might use the pressure to restore their influence in Al-Azhar. However, a confrontation with Al Azhar seems inevitable since it has already been infiltrated by the very Salafists and radicals whose influence al-Sisi wishes to eradicate.

Ironically, Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Ennahda Party has been mostly vague about the social reforms. Despite the protest of some of its main leaders, no official statement has been issued Ennahda vice President Abdel Fattah Mourou said that marriage is a matter of personal freedom under Tunisia’s constitution.

Ennahda, which rose to power after the 2011 Arab Spring, was voted out just three years later. Now it is trying to appear as moderate as possible to regain its strength and weather the storm of anti-Islamist sentiment prevailing in many Middle Eastern nations.

Essebsi is implementing reforms he deems necessary for his country’s social progress. These reforms already are having a ripple effect in the region and might lead to further social progress. Essebsi has done what al-Sisi called for about for more than two years ago, but never took any tangible steps to implement. These reforms may be not exactly what al-Sisi wanted when he called for a complete change of Islamic rhetoric that shuns all forms of extremism and violence. Nevertheless, Essebsi’s reforms are a bold step forward for total social and religious reforms that the Middle East desperately needs.

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.

HYPOCRISY: US To Help Build A Wall On The Entire Tunisia/Libya Border

January 28, 2017

HYPOCRISY: US To Help Build A Wall On The Entire Tunisia/Libya Border

Source: HYPOCRISY: US To Help Build A Wall On The Entire Tunisia/Libya Border » DailySurge

There’s been a lot of talk about building walls this election cycle. Donald Trump famously has built a campaign around building a wall between Mexico and the US and having Mexico pay for it.

He has been laughed at, mocked, maligned, and threatened for this stance. People have said it could never be done and the whole thing was a political stunt cooked up by Mr. Trump.

The liberal left and even the Pope (who lives behind a wall) have called it downright inhumane.

The Obama Administration and Hillary Clinton have derided and jeered at the idea of building a wall. The wall critics have piously stated, “That’s not who we are” or “We build bridges not walls”.

So explain this hypocrisy…according to we are funding and building a massive wall and equipping it with high-tech electronic surveillance equipment to run the entire length of the Tunisia/Libya border.

The video shows the wall is a combination of sand barriers and a mote! Yes, we are helping the Tunisians build a mote. Still in the middle ages? Apparently, the mote was not as effective as they had hoped, without some of America’s high tech gadgets.

The purpose is to keep ISIS from coming into Tunisia, but walls don’t work…so what’s going on?

Here is the short brief from Intelligence Briefs:

March 29, 2016: The United States has agreed to fund the multi-million-dollar project to install an electronic security surveillance system on Tunisia-Libyan border. The wall that Tunisia is erecting is set to keep off ISIS terrorists that have found haven in the neighboring Libya.

US Diplomatic mission to Tunisia said that the she would disburse the first installment of the $24.9 million project to strengthen the security along the frontier.

The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) awarded the contract to American construction group BTP and consulting and engineering firm AECOM.

The project will include installation of an integrated surveillance system using sensors and regular security equipment as well training Tunisian personnel on how to use the system

The project will robust the already built 200km barrier that stretches about half through the entire length of the border with Libya.

The security wall/barrier was building following a series of attacks on holidaymakers in 2015 by t ISIS, the attacks are believed to have been planned in Libya.


See also THIS ! :

High-tech border fence

Graphic News

January 14, 2015 — Saudi Arabia has unveiled a 900km state-of-the art fence along its border with Iraq to ensure the war waged by so-called Islamic State doesn’t spill across its frontier. The $3.4 billion Northern Border Security Project was built by Munich-based Airbus Defence and Space.


US-Israeli-Egyptian mobile sensor-fence projects to block further ISIS Mid East expansion

July 10, 2015

US-Israeli-Egyptian mobile sensor-fence projects to block further ISIS Mid East expansion, DEBKAfile, July 10, 2015

mobile_surveillance_sensor_towers7.15A US mobile surveillance sensor tower

US counter-terror experts are overseeing a lightning operation for setting up mobile sensor towers and electronic fences in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel in a desperate bid to seal their borders off against the fast-moving impetus of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIS, or at least slow it down. This reign of terror is spreading out from Iraq and Syria and creeping into southern Jordan, the Israeli Negev, and Egyptian Sinai, then on to Libya and over to Tunisia and Algeria, covering a distance of 4,000 km.

When President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi saw his army had not repelled the ISIS Sinai affiliate’s offensive in North Sinai as it went into its second week – controlling only the main highway from El Arish to Cairo via Bardawil Lake – he turned to Washington with an urgent request to ship over mobile surveillance sensor towers and American crews to operate them. His plan is to string them across the Sinai Peninsula and along Egypt’s borders with Libya and Sudan in a last-chance bid to block the constant influx of reinforcements and weapons to ISIS fighters reaching Sinai from Libya, through the Egyptian borde,r and from Iraq, through southern Jordan and the Israeli Negev.

The State Department acceded to the Egyptian request and has submitted the application worth $100 million for congressional approval.

The application states: “This procurement is intended for Egyptian Border Guard Forces, which currently lack any remote detection capability along unpatrolled areas of Egypt’s borders.” Libya, Sudan and Sinai are specified. The application goes on to explain: “The system would provide an early warning capability to allow for faster response times to mitigate threats to the border guards and the civilian population.”

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror and intelligence sources disclose that Egypt already has one set of American mobile sensor towers. They were installed on the 193 km long banks of the Suez Canal more than a year ago and have kept ISIS terrorists from reaching those banks and firing missiles at passing ships to block the waterway, like the RPG attack of Sept. 5, 2013.

The sensor towers have proved effective so long as the various terrorist groups, such as ISIS, were deterred from directly attacking American facilities by tactical considerations of their own, such as a preference for those systems rather than a large-scale army forces to police the Suez zone, which would physically impede the convoys carrying men and arms from Libya into Egypt.

The drivers of these convoys stop over at Suez and Port Suez to rest up before carrying on with the long drive to their destinations in Sinai. Scattering the mobile sensor towers in areas unpatrolled by Egyptian troops would expose the American operators to ISIS attacks and abductions. So while solving one problem, they may well generate another. In any case they won’t make the ISIS threat go away.

Whereas Egypt asked for mobile sensors, Tunisia is to have a new, permanent fence with electronic warning stations along its route. Our counter-terror experts point out that, however effective this system is, it can’t promise Tunisia hermetic protection against terrorist encroachment.

ISIS has at least two ways of getting around the fence barrier:

1. Landing by sea. The gunman who massacred 39 tourists on the Soussa beach on June 26 landed from the Mediterranean by speedboat.

2. Circumventing the fence through the meeting point of the Tunisian-Libyan-Algerian borders. That point will not be enclosed. Tunisia may be reached through western Algeria where the border is wide open.

The second electronic fence the United States is providing will run down 30 km of the border between Israel and Jordan from Timna to Eilat. It is a joint project, which has become necessary to curb ISIS movements from southern Jordan through the Israeli Negev and onto Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip.