In the eighties the veil was regarded as the absolute sign of belonging to the Islamist party Ennahdha – in 2011 this is no longer the case.
Fought by President Bourguiba, the first Ennahda party was accepted by his successor Ben Ali. But the legislative elections of 1989 threatened Ben Ali and around 30,000 supporters were imprisoned.
A history that could explain the current momentum of sympathy.
“Many call Ennahdha an extremist movement. If it was, it would react violently when its activists were persecuted and tortured during the reign of Ben Ali, we have tried to adhere to modernist theories,” said Sawssan Omran.
Main fears are linked to strong or violent demonstrations of the Salafist groups born
through certain Islamic satellite channels and the absence of multiparty politics. Their influence is limited. The power is between politics and religion and therefore remain in the hands of Ennahdha.
Slaheddine Jourchi studies Islamist movements: “The movement Ennahdha faces a real test because the Tunisian people expect a profound change, in line with the current attitude of the country but the real test is the exercise of power. Ennahdha must leave its traditional position as opposition status, it may rule the country in the future.”
Euronews correspondent Sami Frade said: “The Tunisians are known for their Islamic heritage away from political issues, that’s why the Islamist movements, in the opinion of analysts, has an incentive to adhere to democratic values in order to reconcile religion and politics.”