As the magazine Le Courrier de l’Atlas reports, thousands of Islamists, “the majority of them Salafis,” demonstrated in front of the constituent national assembly in Tunis last Friday, in order to demand that the sharia be recognized in the future Tunisian constitution as the fundamental source of the law. Salafism is the ultra-fundamentalist version of Islam embraced by al Qaeda. Images of the demonstration posted by Le Courrier de l’Atlas show that many demonstrators were waving al Qaeda’s distinctive black flag — or a white version of the latter — and even more were waving the “caliphate” flag: a simple black or white flag with the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith written, on it. The “caliphate” flag has likewise been closely associated with al-Qaeda and the white version was used by the Taliban.
The images posted by Le Courrier de l’Atlas include both a thirteen-minute-long video clip and an ample selection of photos.
Al-Qaeda and Caliphate Flags, Tunis, March 16
Near the outset of the so-called Arab Spring, numerous ostensibly expert commentators in the Western media confidently affirmed that the upheaval in the Arab world had marginalized al-Qaeda or even rendered it outright “irrelevant.” (For just one example of such analyses, see here from The Guardian.) In the meanwhile, al-Qaeda flags have sprung up in the cradle of the Libyan rebellion in Benghazi and are being proudly displayed by rebels in Syria. Caliphate flags have been a veritable staple of the Syrian protests against Bashar Assad. Now thousands of Salafis converge upon Tunisia’s constituent assembly waving at least scores if not hundreds of al-Qaeda and caliphate flags.
Will the “experts” admit they were wrong?
— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook.