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      Tunisian Leader Planning Slow Islamist Takeover

      Hidden camera video shows Rashid al-Ghannushi advising Salafists on taking control of state.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 10/29/2012, 10:14 AM

      Ghannushi (center)
      Ghannushi (center)
      Reuters

      There is uproar in Tunisia over an 8-minute video that shows a leading politician advising young Salafist leaders on how they can take control of the state, gradually.

      The politician, Rashid al-Ghannushi, heads the country's largest party, Ennahda, and is considered to be a voice of Islamic moderation. The video belies this reputation and appears to show that this moderation is just a façade.

      The video was first broadcast last April and re-broadcast October 9th. In it, Ghannushi told the Salafists: "The secularists are still in control of the media, economy and administration. Therefore, controlling them would require more time."

      He added that "the police and army's support for Islamists is not guaranteed, and controlling them would also require more time."

      "I tell our young Salafists to be patient... Why hurry? Take your time to consolidate what you have gained," Ghannushi said. He advised the Salafists to "create television channels, radio stations, schools and universities" to push their agenda.

      He went on to mock secularists who accept Islam yet fear Sharia law. "They are like those who accepted content but rejected the name itself," he said.

      "The government is now at the hands of Islamists," he said. "The mosques are ours now, and we've become the most important entity in the country.

      "The Islamists must fill the country with associations, establish Quranic schools everywhere, and invite religious preachers because people are still ignorant of Islam," Ghannushi continued.

      In his first reaction to the leaking of video, Ghannushi said that his words were taken out of context. "My words were misunderstood," Ghannushi said. "I was only debating with a number of Salafist young men so that they may not deal lightly with the police, army and state, and nothing else."

      The story has been carried on AllAfrica.com and Die Welt.