Larbi Sadiki the Tunisian writer, political scientist and senior lecturer recalls his meeting with Egyptian Aboul Fotouh in 1992 while a fresh doctoral candidate at the Australian National University. The subject of Sadiki’s investigation at the time was notions of democracy in the discourse of four Islamist movements. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (EMB), Tunisia’s Nahda Party (NP), Jordan Islamic Action Front (IAF), and Sudan’s Islamic Front led then by Hassan Al-Turabi. Sadiki states “Of all of the Islamists I met and engaged with in discussion over democracy during that period, coming soon after the Algerian debacle, Aboul Fotouh was amongst the limited number of interlocutors who felt at ease with that concept and the whole notion of good government. Then, the concept was not as yet popular with most Islamists. Not even the creative Rashid Ghannouchi, whom I sat with and interviewed many times for the purpose of my PhD and beyond, had at the time acquired a firm grip on the term. It was largely considered for being a specifically Western concept underpinned by Western values. At the time, ‘democracy’ in Islamist parlance, lacked the scruples and rigour of shura, Islam’s consultative ethos, even though the likes of the innovative Hassan Al-Turabi in Sudan sought a move towards defining a shura-democracy synthesis.”


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