Statement of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS)
The Situation in Tunisia
In the name of God, Most Merciful and Glorious,
It is with great concern and sorrow, that we at the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) have followed the news of the rising protests in many cities and areas of Tunisia. Riots that enter today their fourth week, have increasingly attracted more and more sections of the Tunisian community, to mention but some: students, professional associations and organizations, syndicates, lawyers, journalists, and intellectuals. Protestors' mottos and dictums demand their rights of "being fed, at least to avoid hunger"; and feeling protected and not insecure in their various life aspects. They especially called for the right of the unemployed to a job, and the right of the workers and employees to a fair wage. Angry protestors have also called for putting an end to corruption, autocracy, and stealing the people's money and resources.
The Tunisian President Ben Ali addressed the nation twice since the beginning of the riots, in a bid to calm down tension. He announced that the state understands the living hardships suffered by the people, promising to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for the unemployed especially those holding scientific degrees, and impudently warning those "extremists, who try to abuse these riots" according to his description. Nonetheless, President Ben Ali's speech didn't effectively succeed in restoring calm to the protestors, nor in pleasing the angry population. On the contrary, the protestors' rage has increased, and riots overran in the heart of the country's capital and in its populous neighborhoods. This led the Tunisian Prime Minister to announce today the dismissal of the Minister of Interior, after dismissing earlier the Minister of Communication; promising to investigate in the events of firing live ammunition on protestors, to investigate corruption, and to release the detainees. The above reflects how deep and serious is the social and political crisis that the country is experiencing today. The absence of trust between the people and the state was expressed through the protestors' slogans, as the tide of riots and rage have been rising throughout the country, heightened by the violent reaction of the Tunisian security forces where around 50 were killed and hundreds injured… Rivers of blood have been streaming, not stopping, not drying, and not ending.
In light of such worsening situation, the IUMS – and after praying for God Almighty and All Merciful to protect Tunisia and its people from evils, restore its calamity and political and social security, and protect the lives of the people, and their resources, capitals and livelihoods; recommends as a part of its concern and responsibility to the following parties:
First: To the Tunisian President Zaine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has been indulged with the responsibility for the Tunisian state and people, reminding him of the holy Hadith text: "Allah[God] would ask every trustee about his trust, did he save or lose it?", and requesting him to immediately issue clear orders to stop firing at citizens, saving bloodshed and protecting livelihoods, taking the necessary measures against those who were responsible on such acts of innocent bloodshed, lifting the siege off the cities and villages, and releasing detainees -among whom many have been in prison for more than a decade, and among whom are thousands of active religious Muslim youth. In addition, we call upon the President to issue an official public pardon, and to remove restrictions off thousands of previous detainees and to give them back their rights and substitute for them some of their unjust losses. All we wish and pray for is that Tunisia goes green and lively again, entering a new era based on general reconciliation and a national pact bringing together all social strata, preserving the rights and ensuring the responsibilities, and putting an end to corruption and holding accountable those corrupted who drain the resources of the country and the people without facing any punishment or deterrence.
Second: To the protesting and angry people of Tunisia, that Islam asserts their right to a decent life, free of abuse of power, of corruption, of autocracy, of resource's stealing, of monopoly over markets, and of opportunism. To those people, we say that their peaceful demonstrations are acts of plead that will be accounted for before God, as long as their intentions are just and sincere, and their acts are free of destruction and belligerence.
It is the right of the oppressed to stand up in front of his oppressor, for Allah says: "Allah loveth not the evil should be noised abroad in public speech, except where injustice hath been done" [Surah An-Nisa: 148]. An excerpt is narrated on behalf of Sahabi Abi 'Tharr says: "I wondered that he who does not find food in his home, how can he not get out to the public swaying his sword?".
Thus we call upon the Tunisian population that have presented an honorable emblem of courage and sacrifice in protecting its rights and freedom, to stay committed to their noble codes of conduct in their protests, preserving money and private and public properties. We remind them that these are a national responsibility that they should protect, and that Islam calls against any infliction on such property. We also remind them to always beware God in their country, living hoods and institutions; to be patient, persistent and cooperative in their peaceful struggle towards a free prosperous Tunisia, that endorses all its sons with equal access to decent life opportunities. Allah says: "And We bestowed dignity on the children of 'Adam" [Surah Al-Israa: 70].
Third: To the Tunisian Security Forces and Army, to beware God in their fellow citizens and people who are their responsibility. Your arms were given to you by your people to protect them from enemies and not to shot against their bare protests driven by hunger and in demand of legitimate and just rights. Pure blood that have been shed, and innocent souls that have been killed, are errs to be bearded by those who committed them, and who ordered the commission; yet even, by those who didn't condemn and either approved or stayed silent. Allah the Greatest says in strict warning against such a crime: "And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him" [Surah An-Nisa'a: 93]. A woman was entitled to hell only because of not feeding a cat, which she imprisoned and prevented food thus not also allowing it to seek its own food; so what about those who killed tens of innocent hungry people? It is an injustice and an oppression that God will not leave unpunished. God only gives time, but he doesn't forget on forego. Prophet Muhammad PBUH (peace be upon him) said: "Verily Allah gives respite to the oppressor until He seizes him, then he will not be able to escape Him", then He (PBUH) read the Ayah [from Holy Qura'n]: "Such is the Seizure of your Lord when He seizes the (population of) towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His Seizure is painful, and severe." [Surah Hud: 102].
Fourth: To the international powers that deal with double standards –if not triple or numerous standards- depending on the concerned sides. To these powers, we remind them of their earlier "chivalry" stances regards human rights in some countries and regions, raising high alerts; but then now staying silent towards the developments in Tunisia. The Tunisian population who chose to stand up all alone in facing its injustices -confessed eventually by the Tunisian rulers themselves- were ignored, and yet worse, France have offered its experiences of oppressing protests… We only wonder if this is what democracy is about? And what are the reasons behind these double standards? Defending democracy in some areas and betraying it in adjacent areas!
Finally, the IUMS implores earnestly to God, the All Merciful and Glory, to protect Tunisia, Tunis Al-Khadra'a [Tunisia, the Green], Tunisia of 'Aqaba bin Nafi' [A Noble brave Sahabi], Tunisia of Al-Zaytouna Mosque and university [the first university in the Islamic World], and bless it with prosper and peace, as well as all other Muslim countries.
We Conclude with Allah's saying:
"Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone - Islamic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsan [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah's sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet in a perfect manner], and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahsha' (i.e all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed." [Surah An-Nahl: 90]
Allah is behind the intention; and the One guiding to the correct path.
Prof. Dr. Ali Al-Quradaghi Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Secretary General Head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars