Souad Abderrahim from the Islamist party Ennahdha is leading the mayoral race in Tunis after her party won 21 council seats, beating Nidaa Tounes of President Caid Essebsi.
She is going to face Kamel Idir from Nidaa Tounes in next month election to be decided by councilors.
Souad Abderrahim’s emergence has attracted critics from the country’s conservatives and religious clerics and even from within Nidaa Tounes, which claims itself as a secular party and open for women’s emancipation.
The 53-year old Pharmacist has reportedly been offered proposal to become member of the cabinet if she gives up her plans to become the city’s first female major. Yet, the woman, known within the Islamist movement as a symbol of the party’s openness and embracing of modern values, told Shems Fm that she is fit to shoulder her future responsibility.
Thursday, Nidaa Tounes distanced itself from member Foued Bousslama after the latter said the previous day Souad Abderrahim becoming Mayor is “unacceptable”.
“We are a Muslim country, unfortunately […] a woman cannot be an imam in a mosque, as she cannot be present on the eve of the 27th night of Ramadan in mosques. This is unacceptable,” Bousslama told M Tunisia television station.
The one who presented himself as the communication officer of the President’s party was referring to the Tunisian tradition, which requires the mayor of the capital and other dignitaries, including the president and prime minister, to attend in a mosque the evening of the 26th day of Ramadan, known as “Leylat al-Qadr”, viewed as the most sacred night.
Nidaa Tounes on Thursday issued a statement saying that Bousslama’s comments do not reflect the party’s position.