Guardian’s Jonathan Steele accuses Tunisian Muslims who oppose radical Islam of Islamophobia

This is almost comical.

Evidently, for Guardian journalists – who consistently fail to acknowledge the most explicit expressions of antisemitism – even a nation which is 98% Muslim can be plagued with the scourge of Islamophobia.

The Guardian’s Jonathan Steele, commenting on the results of yesterday’s Tunisian elections, in “Tunisia’s clean election leads the way”, CiF, Oct. 25, in which the Islamist Ennahda party (led by Rached Ghannouchi) was victorious, wrote:

The party that has emerged from the poll most strongly is Ennahda (Renaissance), a party of modern democratic Islam

Modern? Democratic? 

In fact, as Middle East Analyst Oren Kessler observed today:

“Ennahda presents itself to outsiders as nonviolent, but the movement’s members have been implicated in both incitement and violent actions against Tunisian and foreign targets.

The party supported the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran, and evidence suggests it was responsible for bombing four tourist hotels in the 1980s. In 1991 its operatives attacked the headquarters of Ben Ali’s party, killing one person and throwing acid in the faces of several others, and that same year Ghannouchi called for attacks on US interests in the Middle East in response to America’s invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War.

Ennahda’s founding ideology was largely shaped by that of Sayyid Qutb, a leading ideologue of the grandfather of all Islamist groups.”

Further, Ghannouchi has also advocated the destruction of “the legions of Israel”.

Steele, later in his celebratory essay about Ghannouchi’s victory, added:

While several smaller secular parties tried to manipulate Islamophobia – a relatively easy card to play given the official state-controlled media’s demonisation of the Islamists over several decades – their efforts have failed.

This is truly a remarkable passage – a secular Guardian left commentator characterizing truly moderate Muslims who advocate for a secular, liberal Tunisia, free of Sharia law, as guilty of “Islamophobia”!

In fact, the Tunisian secularists which Steele demonizes have pointed to a disconcerting trend towards religious extremism, such as a recent incident in which hundreds of Islamist protesters converged on Tunis’ Grand Synagogue after Friday prayers shouting “Allahu akbar” and “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”

Khaybar was a Jewish oasis in Arabia conquered by the Muslims in the seventh century.

In July, a draft constitution compiled by the country’s interim authorities included a clause banning normalization with Israel. Some constitutional committee members from secularist parties called to remove the clause, but Ennahda – along with Arab nationalist and extreme left factions – supported its inclusion.

So, for Steele: 

An Islamist movement aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood which supports violence against Americans, the imposition of Sharia law, and intolerance towards non-Muslims represents a progressive movement.

While, moderate Tunisians who oppose religious extremism and the imposition of a theocratic state are reactionary “Islamophobes”.

I’d really like to know at what point genuine liberals will speak up and express outrage at the Guardian’s continuing knee-jerk embrace – in the name of anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-racism! – of the most intolerant, illiberal movements in the world.     

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