In his interview with “Al-Shorouk,” Sheikh Mukhtar al-Jebali , head of the Islamic Organizations Front in Tunisia, accused the Ennahda movement of giving in to the secular and leftist trend in discussions over the constitution, and the outcome, according to Sheikh al-Jebali, is the ratification of a constitution that “has no connection to Islamic Tunisia.” Sheikh al-Jebali explains in this interview the hidden risks that this new constitution brings.
Three years after the fall of the Ben Ali regime, are you optimistic about the future of the country?
Yes, we are optimistic about our country’s future and that of all Islamic countries, for optimism is called for and we have had enough of fear, and we emphasize the hands and the importance of the young people in particular, to move the past into a better tomorrow. And to achieve all this, it is incumbent upon the commanders, the leaders, and the elders in each of their positions and responsibilities to make clear the path of righteousness, but we note that there are unclear and dangerous matters taking place such as would harm our umma and our identity, and I implore all the righteous in your pulpits to unite and drive off the danger which awaits us.
What do you mean by danger?
The constitution which has been ratified, and which we opposed strongly, after the exclusion of Islamic sharia, and which mentioned that Tunisia is “a free, independent, and sovereign country; Islam is its religion, Arabic is its language, and the republic is its form. This chapter may not be amended.” We point to the existence of pressure exerted upon the Ennahda movement, which is a strange and highly dangerous matter. So how can we, the Islamists of Tunisia, when they are strong and possess religious authority, be surprised by their submission and their exclusion of Islamic sharia, when we tell them that no strategic or political or ideological mistake has occurred, and while their giving over is foul and reprehensible?
What are the points of opposition to the constitution?
Removal of Article 141, which guarantees an element of awe and does not allow connection with the religion of the state. They gave up on this and the Constituent Assembly did not dare put separation into place forbidding offense against sanctities despite what we have seen from the time of the revolution until today in the way of offense against them, and violation of the holinesses of religion, be they the Book of God Almighty or insulting the Prophet of God (PBUH) or violating the holiness of religion.
We have seen in the recent period the circulation of a picture allegedly of the Messenger (PBUH) in the shape of a pig, God forbid, and no action has been taken to stop this crime, and we rebuke likewise Chapter Six of the constitution, which reads that the state is the guardian of the right of belief and conscience. This is an extremely dangerous matter. Why did it not suffice to mention the phrase “freedom of belief”? Why did they have to add the word “conscience,” which must mean the legality of atheism and disbelief? By this phrase, they allow an individual to set up a space before the mosque and call from it for devil worship if he wants to. We fear that by this, they are making of Tunisia a land of discord, as the people are Muslim and jealous of their religion, and inevitably an attack will occur against those people who attack Islam and our sanctities. We do not want sectarian discord driven by secularists and leftists, like the ban on the topic of takfir, for bringing forward the topic of takfir and apostasy was free and established in the Qur’an and sunna, at the very least for specific bodies like the judiciary and religious institutions.
Is the constitution really so bad in your view?
That which remains in this constitution is all catastrophes and it throws wide open the gates for all subversive ideas and fanaticisms. It is possible with the freedom of conscience found in the constitution for your child to become Buddhist or Christian or nonreligious, and for this reason we stress that this constitution does not involve us in any way, for there is no connection between it and Islam or Muslims in any way.
Is there any good reason that made the Ennahda movement, which controls the Constituent Assembly, accept a constitution that excludes Islam sharia?
This mystery has baffled everyone, as everyone wonders what made the Brothers in Ennahda, of whom we think well, who had tasted the woes of prison, grovel and sell out on this issue. This inquiry is still going on even in the institutions of the Ennahda movement: what was it that enchanted them or drugged them within the chamber of the Constituent Assembly? The Ennahda movement should know that there are red lines that must not be crossed. We are for openness and freedoms, but that does not mean turning freedom of thought into freedom of disbelief, which is what we have seen in previous cases like the showing on Channel Curse—meaning Channel Nesma-- of the film which shows the divine being, and operations of insult to the divine and depicting the Prophet (PBUH) in the shape of a pig and the operations set up by the leftist Ibn Brik.
How do you view the group Ansar al-Shariah which the government has classified as a terrorist organization?
We think well of them. They are sons of Tunisia before all else. They were filled with enthusiasm for religion but did not find anyone to guide them aright and correct them, so they learned in caves and tunnels instead of studying under the ulema’ and sheikhs, and all this because of the prohibition put in place by the ousted Ben Ali regime. It is well known that he who did not study in the light studies in the darkness.
As for the second matter, we rebuke them because of some of them turning to violence and harming the interests of the country, but we must live with them peacefully and admonish them in the case of mistakes. As for working with them on security measures, it has been established that they will be not destroyed. I am an advocate of admonishing like I said, of persuasion by proof and evidence, but we are sorely tried in this endeavor by the extremist secularists, who put everyone in the same basket be they a moderate Muslim or a radical, and they reply on all occasions: “Tunisia is free and Islam is outside.”
Tunisia has also known the phenomenon of the “jihadis,” especially in Syria…do you disown them?
We are against their going to Syria while we emphasize that we are with the Syrian people and the Arab revolutions, because they are revolutions of the oppressed. Our Syrian people went out to demand freedom, but “Bashar the Sheep” persecuted and killed them. For this reason, I say to whoever went to aid his tortured and raped sister in Syria: “May the Lord make your way easy,” without calling upon him to go to Syria, for among a Muslim’s duties to another Muslim is that he support and empathize with him.
Between those who refuse the Gulf and Egyptian sheikhs in Tunisia and those who support them, where do you fall between the two sides?
I am a Maliki sheikh of the Zeitouna, and I refuse unfounded chauvinism and speech from those who criticize the sheikhs from Egypt or from the Gulf by crying to the religious authorities of Tunisia. They are the ones who destroyed authority, and I add my voice and emphasize in a loud voice my welcome to the sheikhs from Egypt or from the Gulf or from Algeria. We have seen how the Tunisians turned out in happiness and jubilation when they arrived in our country, but the secular gang wants to fight against the phenomenon of religiosity and fiqh at the hands of the sheikhs.
يتهم الشيخ مختار الجبالي رئيس جبهة الجمعيات الإسلامية بتونس في حواره لـ "الشروق"، حركة النهضة بالانبطاح للتيار العلماني واليساري عند مناقشة الدستور، والنتيجة بحسب الشيخ الجبالي المصادقة على دستور "لا يمت بصلة إلى تونس الإسلامية". ويشرح الشيخ الجبالي في هذا الحوار مكامن الخطر الذي أتى به الدستور الجديد.
ثلاث سنوات من سقوط نظام بن علي، هل أنتم متفائلون بمستقبل البلاد؟
نعم نحن متفائلون بمستقبل بلادنا وكل البلاد الإسلامية، فالتفاؤل مطلوب، وكفانا من التخوف، ولنشد على أيدي وهمم الشباب خاصة، من أجل المضي إلى غد أفضل، ولتحقيق كل هذا وجب على القادة والزعماء والمشايخ كل في منصبه ومسؤولياته أن يوضحوا طريق الخير، لكن نسجل أن هنالك أمورا غامضة وخطيرة تحصل، من شأنها الإضرار بأمتنا وهويتنا، وأناشد من منبركم كل الخيرين للتضافر وإبعاد الخطر الذي يتربص بنا.
ما الذي تقصده بالخطر؟
الدستور الذي تم المصادقة عليه، لقد اعترضنا عليه بشدة، بعدما جرى استبعاد الشريعة الإسلامية، وتم ذكر أن تونس "دولة حرة، مستقلة، ذات سيادة، الإسلام دينها، والعربية لغتها، والجمهورية نظامها. لا يجوز تعديل هذا الفصل"، ونشير إلى وجود قوة ضغط مورست على حركة النهضة، وهو أمرغريب وخطير للغاية، فكيف للإسلاميين في تونس وهم قوة وذوو مرجعية، نفاجأ برضوخهم وإبعادهم للشريعة الإسلامية، ونقول لهم إن ما تم خطأ استراتيجي وسياسي وفكري، وتنازلهم هو تنازل قبيح ومذموم.
ما هي مكامن الاعتراض على الدستور فضيلة الشيخ؟
إزالة المادة 141 التي تضمن شيئا من الهيبة ولا يجوز المساس بدين الدولة. وقع التنازل عنه ولم يتجرأ المجلس التأسيسي على وضع فصل يحرم التعدي على المقدسات مع ما رأيناه منذ الثورة إلى اليوم من تعد عليها، وانتهاك لحرمات الدين، سواء كان كتاب الله عز وجل وسب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وانتهاك لحرمات الدين.
وقد رأينا في الفترة الأخيرة تداول صور يزعمون أنها للرسول عليه الصلاة والسلام في شكل خنزير والعياذ بالله، ولم يتم التحرك لوقف هذا الجرم، ونعيب كذلك الفصل السادس من الدستور الذي نص على أن الدولة راعية لحق المعتقد والضمير، وهذا أمر في بالغ الخطورة، فلماذا لم يتم الاكتفاء بذكر عبارة حرية المعتقد، ليتم زيادة عبارة ضمير، ما يعني بالضرورة إباحة الإلحاد والكفر، ويتاح بتلك العبارة للفرد أن يقيم حلقة أمام المسجد يدعو فيها إلى عبادة الشيطان إن شاء، ونخشى مع هذا أن يجعلوا من تونس أرض فتنة، كون الشعب مسلما يغار على دينه، لا محالة سيقع اعتداء على هؤلاء الأشخاص الذين يعتدون على الإسلام، وعلى مقدساتنا، نحن لا نريد فتنة طائفية، يقودها العلمانيون واليساريون، كما تم إلغاء مسألة التكفير، لقد كان حريا جعل مسألة التكفير والردة وهي ثابتة في القرآن والسنة، على الأقل في هيئات محددة كالقضاء والمؤسسات الدينية.