Prof Andrew March – USA
A professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, he specialises in political philosophy, Islamic law and political thought, religion and comparative and non-Western political theory. Author of several books including, The Caliphate of Man: The Invention of Popular Sovereignty in Modern Islamic Thought (2019), and with Rachid Ghannouchi, On Muslim Democracy: Essays and Dialogues (Nov 2023)

Dr Ahmed Gaaloul
Former Tunisian minister; lecturer and writer in Islamic Studies, and an advisor to Rachid Ghannouchi.

Dr Daud Abdullah (Moderator)
Director of the Middle East Monitor; lecturer and author of several books, including, Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy (2021).

Moadh Ghannouchi
Son of Rachid Ghannouchi and former Chief-of-Staff Nahda Party, Tunisia.

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Special message by Shaykh Rachid Ghannouchi from prison to The Cordoba Foundation roundtable

Friday, February 16, 2024

I am in prison today because I called for the values of national democracy, which is part of universal democracy, and because the conflict in Tunisia is a conflict between democracy and non-democracy.

Some of the enemies of democracy rely on modernity as a basis to exclude Islamic opponents. We in Tunisia were founded on the values of Islam, and we do not find any justification to exclude those who disagree with us or those who believe in Islam with a different vision, because we do not see that there is an official spokesman for Islam.

I am in prison because a significant portion of the so-called Tunisian modernists are non-democratic. They call for a democracy that is just for them, an exclusionary democracy. Whereas We are in a struggle for a Tunisia for all and for a democracy that includes everyone inside Tunisia and outside Tunisia.

The country today is governed by the dualism of good and evil, right and wrong, patriotism and treason. This is the essence of the coup of July 25, 2021: the monopoly of patriotism, the monopoly of Islam, and the monopoly of righteousness. Therefore, the existing regime is in a relentless war against democracy in all its meanings. This approach cannot bring Tunisians together because God created people different.

The current system sees difference as a curse, but we see it as a mercy.

Palestine exposed the shortcomings of democracy within the framework of the nation state.

Democracy, as a mechanism, is one of the best mechanisms that the human political mind has produced for consensus and reaching settlements between differences and a way to resolve disputes away from violence.

But when democracy is confined to a particular group and is imprisoned within the trenches of nationalism, race, and colour, its mechanisms break down in more than one case – especially in the face of major challenges such as the Palestinian question.

The flaw, then, is not in the idea of democracy, but in the idea of the nation-state outside the framework of ethics and the values of equality for all human beings. There is no framework for ethics outside the framework of man as God’s khalifa / vicegerent on earth, the one who is entrusted to look after this world. Therefore, we demand democracy and add it to our understanding of Islam so that it emerges from the confines and the narrowness of the individual and the group to the vastness of humanity.

Shaykh Rachid Ghannouchi