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George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2015


Ennahda’s many compromises during Tunisia’s transition have prompted assessments that the party has alienated its base, especially by not taking more traditionally Islamist stances on issues like sharī‘a. This paper draws on interviews with young Tunisian Islamists and assesses how they have responded to Ennahda’s compromises. Although some young Islamists are disappointed that Ennahda did not pursue more hard-line Islamist stances, many actually share the leadership’s progressive position on certain religious issues. Interestingly, young Islamists were far more angered by Ennahda’s compromises on ‘revolutionary’ issues than they were by its compromises on ‘religious’ ones. This paper ultimately argues that Islam’s role in Tunisian Islamism (although significant) should not be overstated, and that Ennahda and its constituents’ other non-religious priorities, like identity and basic self-preservation (manifested as revolutionary zeal), are often of equal or greater importance.


African History | African Studies | Community-Based Research | History | Islamic World and Near East History | Political History | Politics and Social Change | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


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