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Tunisia's president criticised for attacking Islamists after visit to Egypt

Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks during a ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia on March 22, 2021 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks during a ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia on March 22, 2021 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian President Kais Saied said Tunisians are "Muslims, not Islamists" after his visit to Egypt, sparking widespread controversy.

Saied added: "There is a major manoeuvre taking place in our time, and a process intended to divide society into categories."

Tunisian journalist Noureddine Al-Suwilami commented on the matter saying: "Kais Saied wants to provoke the Islamists," adding that the president visited Egypt "to spite [Tunisia's Ennahda party leader] Ghannouchi who is being attacked by the Egyptian media, and to spite the martyr, [Egyptian] President Mohamed Morsi."

Writer Anis Ashi said in an article entitled The President's Confusion: Muslim or Islamist that "the president, as usual, uses all platforms to settle his political accounts and incite division among Tunisians, after he used barracks and graves, it is time no to use places of worship."

"It seems that his Excellency is struck with Islamophobia, just like those before him," Ashi added.

He explained: "Mr President, a legal entity or personality, such as countries, parties, associations and organisations, use the term Islamic when they take Islam as a reference, such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Relief Organisation."

"As for the term Muslim, it refers to the self or the natural person, so we say someone is a Muslim or non-Muslim," he continued.

Saied's statement was widely criticised on social media platforms, as many linked his statements to anti-political Islam discourse adopted by Egyptian coup leader turned President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

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