During its 10th National Congress, on 22 May 2016, Ennahda (the Renaissance Movement), the political party of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood, decided to segregate its religious activities from its political activities in order to become a “civil party”.
Indeed, this reform will be limited to a prohibition on carrying out concurrently elected office and the duty to preach. The party will still be defined as “Islamic”; it is not abandoning its religious activities and will continue to refer to the Brotherhood’s religious interpretation. It is clear, the party will not become secular; there will be no substantive change.
To judge the sincerity of this reform, we only need to recall that in 1987, the current chair of the party, Rached Ghannouchi, participated in the attempted Islamic coup d’etat and that in 1990 in Sudan, he prayed at Osama bin Laden’s side. He has no regrets.
The Congress’s public relations (including the all-expenses paid invitation to more than 100 journalists) have been guaranteed by the British MI6; this is proof that if the United States decided to distance themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood, London continues to work with them.
The President of the Republic, Beji Caïd Essebsi (formerly a member of Destour), came to welcome the “reform” of the party’s image and delivered a sermon that included several religious references. This signals that the Brotherhood still holds the core powers in Tunisia.