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UAE media launches campaign against Ghannouchi, Ennahda will sue

Leader of Nahda Movement Rachid al-Ghannouchi delivers a speech during a gathering within Nahda Movement's election campaign at Habib Burgiba Street ahead of Tunisia's presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia on 4 October 2019. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rashid Ghannouchi in Tunis, Tunisia on 4 October 2019 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Media campaigns launched by Emirati, Saudi and Egyptian channels against the head of Ennahda movement and Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi have become widespread and apparent.

The campaigns were launched in conjunction with calls made by unknown parties to sign a petition to question the affluence of the movement’s leader, under the slogan: “Where did you get your wealth from?”

Once news of the petition began circulating in Tunisia, it received external media attention aimed at promoting the trend.

It seemed to observers who spoke to Arabi21, that the promotion of these accusations took the form of an organised campaign launched by Emirati media, and then circulated via websites and bloggers from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two countries that showed clear rivalry towards Ennahda movement and the democratic track in Tunisia.

Ennahda movement hastened to condemn the campaign and confirmed: “We regret attempts to spread discord by using suspicious websites, as well as through satellite channels and foreign media networks known for their hostility to the Tunisian democratic track, without justification.”

READ: Former president accuses Saudis, UAE and Egypt of leading counter-revolution in North Africa 

The movement affirmed in a statement on Tuesday: “Regarding the rumours circulating about a fictitious fortune acquired by the movement’s leader, we remind the public that Rached Ghannouchi has declared his property, and the movement will sue all parties involved in this slanderous and malicious campaign.”

Haftar’s defeat leads to targeting Ghannouchi

In a statement to Arabi21, Head of Ennahda’s political bureau Noureddine Arbaou confirmed: “The campaign, which has been ongoing for quite some time, is one of the aggression episodes launched by parties that have been showing overt hostility to the Tunisian democracy. This hostile position, which is unjustified, is motivated by an insistent attack on Tunisia, as well as Ennahda movement and its leader.”

Arbaou considers that: “The campaign has been going on for years without interruption, and the losses and defeats of their ally, Khalifa Haftar in Libya, make them fiercer and therefore, they are targeting Tunisia, the gains of the revolution, and most importantly Ennahda movement. We consider this an aggression against Tunisia.”

He stressed that: “Dictatorships do not tolerate the manifestations of freedom and democracy, and seem to have allergies to it.”

Political analyst Abu Lubaba Salem told Arabi21 that: “The campaign is launched by some parties, mainly the Emirati and Egyptian media, which aim at striking the Arab revolutions,” noting that “the timing of the campaign against Ghannouchi is mainly linked to the election of Ghannouchi as parliament speaker and Haftar’s defeats in Libya, which led them to focus on the Ennahda leader and symbolically target the revolution gains in Tunisia.”

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Salem considered that discussing Ghannouchi’s fortune: “Is a miserable quest that is intended to drag poor people to talk about the revolution of the hungry. However, they seem to forget that all the Tunisian officials are required to declare their property and in the event of discovering unjustified sources of wealth, the authority can complain in case of suspicion.”

Salem believes that the main goal of the defamation campaign is to: “Confuse and mobilise people against Ghannouchi, as we did not see any prominent personality, with sufficient sense of responsibility, raising this issue.”

Political analyst Monther Bin Youssef commented on the situation by confirming that the Emirati-Saudi-Egyptian axis is seeking to cover up the defeats of their ally Haftar, adding that: “They have substituted military raids by media bombardments targeting the opposing axis in the Maghreb region, namely the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) and its leader, Fayez Al-Sarraj, the government of the Justice and Development party in Morocco and its leader Saadeddin Othmani, and Ennahda movement party in Tunisia and its leader Rached Ghannouchi as a major component of Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh’s government.”

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