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Tunisia: Netizens Turn to Facebook to Criticise Islamists

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

The question of the power of Islamic movements has become a hot topic since the so called Arab Spring started in Tunisia last December. Salafis have caused many controversies over the past months in post revolution Tunisia. According to news reports, they have attacked a movie theater for showing a movie by Tunisian female secular filmmaker Nadia El Fani; attacked a university office for refusing to register a woman wearing a Niqab, as rules put by the former regime impose; and they have also burned the house of Nessma TV owner for showing the movie Persepolis, which includes a scene of a girl talking to God.

These actions were used to attack the Ennahda Islamic party, which won 40 per cent of the votes in the recent elections, saying that Islamists in Tunisia want to turn the country into another Taliban-run Afghanistan, Sudan, or Iran. The attacks were seen as Islamophobic reactions, and the image of political Islam by some.

Others found them to be just planned campaigns by competing Tunisian political parties to decrease the popularity of Ennahda. Yet, many of those groups have defended themselves by saying they are of Islamic identity yet they have the desire to protect secular Tunisia.

Tunisian netizens have turned to Facebook to criticise and mock such movements and draw support to Tunisia's secular way of life. One of those most active groups on Facebook is [ar] شماتة في العرب تونس حرة بالحرام ما تقعد حرة which can be translated to English as “Tunisia will stay free whether Arabs like it or not” in reference to the Tunisian mainstream connection made between the Gulf states and their assumed funding for Islamic groups.

In the first picture below, Head of Ennahda party, Rached Al-Ghannouch, has been photoshopped onto the body of former Tunisian President Zein Al Abideen Ben Ali and the caption for this picture puts Ghannouchi reciting the last words of Ben Ali in his famous speech “I finally understood you, people of Tunisia.”

The same group has also posted a song that says “No No No to Muslim Brotherhood“.

Another famous Facebook group that came to light during the revolution called ابتسم كثيراً فأنت لست من سيدي بوزيد (Smile a lot; you are not from Sidi Bouzid) has also been dedicated with a more moderate approach (as in less sarcasm and insults) against Ennahda saying that letting Islamists rule Tunisia will ruin it and is against the real goal of the revolution.

Here, the group posts a picture of how Tunisia will be represented when Ennahda rules Tunisia:

And in this picture they attack the owner of Hannibal TV Larbi Nasra, who is a relative of Ben Ali's wife, accusing him of supporting the former ruling party, then the revolution, and now Ennahda party, for his own interests.

Another Facebook page entitled أنا مسلم و النهضة لا تمثلني (I am Muslim and Ennahda doesn't represent me) posted a picture comparing Ghannouchi with Iranian head of Islamic revolution Ayatollah Khomeini.

A group called الحركة التونسية لمقاومة المتطرفين و تجار الدين : النهضة ، التحرير (The Tunisian Resistance Movement against Extremists and Religion Traders: Ennahda and Tahrir) pointed out what they described as the anti-freedom practices of Islamists in post revolution Tunisia. In this picture, the page says one of the night clubs announced its decision to shut down as they have been ordered to stop serving alcohol and playing music after 11pm.

One more Facebook page لا للسكوت على تجاوزات النهضة (No to Silence towards Ennahda Excesses) posted many videos criticizing and mocking Ennahda, one of them is for a famous Tunisian YouTube persona called “Jalel Brick” as he addresses the people of Sidibouzid after the clashes they had with Ennahda supporters over the poll results.

And here is another video that addresses couples saying that Ennahda can get you the money to get married, posted by the same page, to hint that Ennahda buys people by getting them such services. Another page had a different approach by asking for a million signatures against Ennahda to put them on trial, the way the former ruling party is getting trialed after the revolution.

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

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