Rached Ghannouchi, the head of the Islamist opposition and speaker of the disbanded parliament of Tunisia, showed up at a police station in Tunis on Monday to respond to inquiries on allegations of terrorism, according to his party.
Numerous protestors, including attorneys and political activists, gathered outside the police station to voice their opposition to Ghannouchi being questioned after he spoke out against President Kais Saied’s usurpation of extensive power.
‘The police state has come to an end. We stand behind you, Ghannouchi,’ some of them began to chant. ‘Freedom’ was chanted by others.
Ghannouchi and another member, former prime minister Ali Larayedh, would be questioned by police for ‘sending jihadists to Syria,’ according to Ennahda party officials on Saturday. However, they did not provide any additional information.
Regarding the purpose of Ghannouchi’s summons, the Tunisian government has not made any statements. On suspicion of helping Tunisians travel for jihad, six former security personnel and two Ennahda members were detained last month.
Since the 2011 revolution that restored democracy to Tunisia, the leader of Ennahda has played a significant role in that country’s politics, joining his party in a number of subsequent coalition governments.
Last summer, when Saied shut down the parliament and took most of the power, Ghannouchi accused him of staging an anti-democratic coup, which the president has refuted.
Ghannouchi said the summons was ‘a new attempt to target opponents and a new step towards exclusion’ in a late-Saturday interview with Reuters.