Friday, April 22, 2011


Like a cancer it spreads.  Creeping into every pore, every nook and cranny, it's opportunistic growth taking advantage of any little opening.

This is Islam.

From ANSAmed April 20


ANSAmed) - TUNIS, APRIL 20 - Tunisia is fighting a political and ideological battle at the same time, about the State's secularity. Everybody seems to agree on the issue, at least in words, but there are some hardly visible developments that are reason for concern.

It doesn't take much to get the attention and to worry most Tunisians - and not only the young people - who thought that everything would change for the better after the 'Jasmine revolution'. But now that are faced with the potential explosion of a form of Islam that does not seem to be moderate at all, with which the religious parties are flirting while they are making preparations for a long electoral season.

A young man from the outskirts who created a group of other young people around him, speaking a language drenched in piety is even seen as a potential threat in the eyes of the entire country. The person in question is the self-proclaimed 'emir el Muminin'', meaning ''prince of believers'', who is active in the Ras Jedir region, nowadays well-known for its border crossing where hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya entered the country, with all problems caused by this situation, including security and public order issues.

People fear that the 'prince' wants to establish an emirate in this place, in Ben Gardane.

It started a few days ago, when an artist who performed for the refugees to make them forget about their suffering for a while, was approached by a group of young bearded men. These men reproached the artist, saying that he should not try to make these people smile with all the suffering in the camps. It could have ended there, if these young men had not said that they had a leader, for whom the title 'emir' had been chosen.

In Arabic 'emir' means commander, but the term has a different meaning in religious context, particularly if taken together with the term ''el Munimin'', the idea of a caliph and a caliphate.

The problem in the eyes of many people is not the name of this group however, but its actions, especially in the early stages of the humanitarian emergency caused by the Libyan crisis.

The members of the group, Ahl El Ber wal Khayriya -Kafilet Ennasr (''People of justice and charity - The caravan of victory''), have set up a formidable organisation, supplying meals to 600 refugees per day. That is a lot, considering that - at least on paper - they are only boys who have decided to set up a (so far unknown) organisation of volunteers. This form of assistance has awoken the interest of hundreds of refugees. Now people in Tunisia fear that this situation, with desperate and disillusioned people, could be a fertile ground for fundamentalism. 

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