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Tunisia: Tolerance or opportunism? Islamist party nominates Jewish candidate04:16

Tunisia: Tolerance or opportunism? Islamist party nominates Jewish candidate

Tunisia, Monastir
February 27, 2018 at 22:33 GMT -00:00 · Published

for me and not against me, but now they started to be convinced of my choice. As for the Jews who were in Djerba and Tunis, again at first they opposed me and then they respected my opinion. It represents us so that all our rights are guaranteed."

Tunisia's 'Islamist' Ennahdha Party took the surprise decision of nominating a Jewish candidate for May's municipal elections, as shown in footage filmed in Monastir on Tuesday.

The selection of Simon Salameh for the Monastir district has attracted considerable attention. Praised by some as a sign of openness and tolerance in the Arab world, others see it as a nothing more than a cynical move to garner votes.

Salemeh put forward his plans for Monastir and Tunisia. "I entered firmly to reform my city and to create a strategic vision for the long course of history. I wish success without any conflict", he said.

According to official statistics, there are only 1,000 Jews in Tunisia. The few who remained after the creation of Israel in 1948 have maintained a low profile, at least in the political sphere.

Salemeh hopes his candidacy will promote greater openness in his home country.

"I wanted to show the world that there is no difference between Tunisian citizens," he said. "We will prove to the world that the Ennahdha Movement has been renewed."

Salemeh has become a symbol of reform within his party. The Ennahdha Movement was founded by current president Rached el-Ghannouchi amidst the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and the toppling of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. It styles itself as a centre-right conservative party with religious ties, much like the Christian Democratic parties across Western Europe.

Some doubt that an so-called 'Islamist' party can truly believe in religious tolerance, preferring to view Ennahda's latest candidate as a means of attracting secular voters. Indeed, it maintains an anti-Israel stance, in line with most of the electorate.

Whether this really is a sign of tolerance or simply political opportunism will be put to the Tunisian voters on May 6.

Tunisia: Tolerance or opportunism? Islamist party nominates Jewish candidate04:16
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for me and not against me, but now they started to be convinced of my choice. As for the Jews who were in Djerba and Tunis, again at first they opposed me and then they respected my opinion. It represents us so that all our rights are guaranteed."

Tunisia's 'Islamist' Ennahdha Party took the surprise decision of nominating a Jewish candidate for May's municipal elections, as shown in footage filmed in Monastir on Tuesday.

The selection of Simon Salameh for the Monastir district has attracted considerable attention. Praised by some as a sign of openness and tolerance in the Arab world, others see it as a nothing more than a cynical move to garner votes.

Salemeh put forward his plans for Monastir and Tunisia. "I entered firmly to reform my city and to create a strategic vision for the long course of history. I wish success without any conflict", he said.

According to official statistics, there are only 1,000 Jews in Tunisia. The few who remained after the creation of Israel in 1948 have maintained a low profile, at least in the political sphere.

Salemeh hopes his candidacy will promote greater openness in his home country.

"I wanted to show the world that there is no difference between Tunisian citizens," he said. "We will prove to the world that the Ennahdha Movement has been renewed."

Salemeh has become a symbol of reform within his party. The Ennahdha Movement was founded by current president Rached el-Ghannouchi amidst the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and the toppling of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. It styles itself as a centre-right conservative party with religious ties, much like the Christian Democratic parties across Western Europe.

Some doubt that an so-called 'Islamist' party can truly believe in religious tolerance, preferring to view Ennahda's latest candidate as a means of attracting secular voters. Indeed, it maintains an anti-Israel stance, in line with most of the electorate.

Whether this really is a sign of tolerance or simply political opportunism will be put to the Tunisian voters on May 6.

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