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'Tunisia proof that democracy can sustain in Arab world'

Press Trust of India  |  Aligarh 

Although "unfortunate" events have followed the Arab Spring but Tunisia shows that democracy can sustain in the Arab world, president and co-founder of Ennahda Party of the country, Sheikh Rashid al-Ghannushi said here today.

Addressing a gathering at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Sheikh Rashid said, "The struggle for reconstruction of economic life on a more equitable basis, the end of single party politics and the acceptance of political pluralism and democracy has been long but we have finally achieved it.

"International community and civil society still wonders how the flame of Arab Spring's renaissance is still burning in Tunisia while the neighboring countries have unrest. My answer to them is that since our party has an ideology of democracy co-existing with Islam, the flame is still burning," said the Tunisian leader.

Shiekh Rashid added that Tunisian democracy is successful because "we recognise the rights of citizenship for all communities, equality of gender and an overall pluralistic society".

"Like India, we have a constitution which gives freedom to practice religion, freedom of choices, freedom to work and prosper and freedom of education," he said, adding, Tunisia denounced terrorism and bloodshed and had built a modern Islamic state based on reconciliation and the respect for people of different faiths.

"We have followed the example of the Prophet when after his conquest of Makkah, he gave equal rights and citizenship even to his enemies," said Shiekh Rashid, adding that "we have also drawn inspirations from Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi."

Talking about the recent terrorist attack on a museum in Tunisia, Shiekh Rashid said that the group behind the attack is in a very small minority.

"However, even if terrorists are in small numbers, they are a danger to the civilised world and should be dealt with accordingly," said the Arab leader.

He said, "We in Tunisia believe that terrorists can never be successful in their designs as what is wrong, never prevails on what is right."

The leaders of today's Tunisia firmly believe that a modern day state can only succeed when it accords justice to all citizens irrespective of class and religion, he said.

On this occasion, AMU Students' Union conferred on him its honorary life membership.

The president of students' union, Abdullah Azzam welcomed the chief guest.

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First Published: Wed, April 08 2015. 23:07 IST