TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The leader of a long-outlawed Tunisian Islamist party returned home Sunday after two decades in exile, telling The Associated Press in his first interview on arrival that his views are moderate and that his Westward-looking country has nothing to fear.
Rachid Ghanouchi and about 70 other exiled members of Ennahdha, or Renaissance, flew home from Britain two weeks after autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power by violent protests. At the airport, thousands of people welcomed him, cheering, shouting "God is great!" and drowning out his attempt to address the crowd with a megaphone.
Ghanouchi rejected any comparison to more radical figures, including the hardline father of the Iranian Revolution.
"Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, but that's not me," Rachid Ghanouchi told the AP.
During 23 years in power, Tunisia's ousted president cracked down on opponents, including proponents of political Islam, jailing them and sending many into exile. As Tunisians protests over corruption and repression, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14.>>>
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