The leader of the Ennahda Movement, Rashed Ghannouchi, has accused foreign and Gulf media of trying to cause unrest in Tunisia and to shake the people's confidence in their security and military institutions.
Ghannouchi made these accusations during an interview yesterday with the Midi Show, broadcast by Tunisian radio station Mosaïque FM.
Ghannouchi said: "[Thursday] was a difficult day for Tunisians, who had to suffer two different issues, namely the rumour war targeting the health of our president [Beji Caid Essebsi], may God cure him, and used by foreign media to wage war on Tunisian public opinion and intimidate it in order to disrupt Tunisia and shake its security."
Essebsi was rushed to hospital in a "critical condition", prompting many media outlets to report that he had died. Essebsi's aide Firas Guefrech and Tunisia's Prime Minister Youssef Chahed stressed that, though the president was seriously ill he had not in fact passed away, calling on onlookers not to be "misled by rumours".
The second issue was related to a series of terrorist attacks on Tunisian capital Tunis on Thursday, which Ghannouchi claimed were intended to shake Tunisians' confidence in their security and military institutions. "However, the Tunisian people have taken up this danger and passers-by did not escape from Habib Bourguiba Street and stood next to the security establishment," he argued.
"Before the end of the day, security won over terrorism, which turns out to be helpless and miserable and therefore carried out desperate operations, after which Tunisia managed to stand tall and victorious again," he added.
Ghannouchi stressed that there are some countries – which he did not name – that fear the success of Tunisia's transition to democracy in the wake of the Arab Spring, a success which the country hopes will be manifested in the upcoming elections in November.
He stressed that the Tunisian model, which represents a "challenge to outdated systems", is the target of such attacks, explaining that the best response to these "malicious schemes" is to hold the elections on time.