Discussions continue in the Tunisian blogosphere and Facebook following the visit of Egyptian Islamic scholar Yousif Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar, to the secular country two weeks ago.
Qaradawi's official visit to Tunisia on March 4 and 5 was to celebrate Kairouan as a capital for Islamic culture. This visit is considered his first official visit to Tunisia since he accused the Tunisian government of hostility towards Islam and Muslims. He also accused Tunisian poet Sghaier Awled Ahmed, of being an infidel in his book: Secular extremism in Islam: The Cases of Tunisia and Turkey, which was published in 2001.
The supporters of the visit saw in this official visit a change in the government's policy towards Islam and Islamism and a sign of the failure of the secular project in Tunisia. Rashed Ghannuchi president of the now banned Islamic movement Annahdha shared the movement's joy over the visit and he also called upon the Tunisian authorities to cancel the decree prohibiting the hijab (Islamic headscarf worn by women), in a Press release he issued from London.
The visit's opponents explained on their part that Qaradawi had already attacked Tunisians and Tunisia in his book cited above. They saw this visit as another of the games played by the Tunisian government to win support during the elections, especially since Qaradawi started his visit by going to the premises of radio Zaitouna, established by the Tunisian president's son-in-law Sakhr Materi, who is establishing an Islamic bank in Tunisia. They saw this initiative as a support to these projects, especially that Qaradawi is very popular among Tunisians. Furthermore , they saw in this visit a threatening to the secular environment reigning in Tunisia since the rule of the first president.
Tunisian Debate expressed his opinion through caricatures as usual:
La dernière visite de l'Imam Qardhawi aurait pu passer inaperçue si elle n'avait revêtu un caractère officiel. En effet, Le tapis mauve que lui a déroulé le ministre de la culture et les Unes que lui ont consacré les médias ont suscité un vif débat dans la blogosphère. Les Laïques y on vu une menace contre les acquis progressistes amenés par Bourguiba tandis que les conservateurs se sont réjouis du retour à la normale de la Tunisie qui se réveille enfin de sa laïque léthargie made in occident. Un dialogue de sourd entre les uns et les autres a noyé toute possibilité d'entente sur la sempiternelle question de la laïcité et de l'Islam.
He also talked about authorties’ agenda behind this official invitation:
Le régime en mélangeant les genres entretient des clivages et empêche la société de débattre clairement de ses divergences. Sa stratégie consiste à acheter la paix sociale en usant de toutes les voix discordantes que peut produire le corps social. Il les récupèrera à son compte et les mettra en scène dans un simulacre de démocratie.