CAIRO — Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on the Tunisian people to rise up against the country's Islamist ruling party for accepting a constitution not based on Islamic Shariah law, according to a recording released Sunday.
In an audio recording posted on militant forums, al-Zawahri said the leaders of the Ennahda party, a moderate Islamist group that formed a new government after October elections, are violating Islam's teachings by accepting a constitution that does not consider Shariah the sole source for legislation.
Al-Zawahri said Ennahda favors "an Islam accepted by the U.S. State Department, the EU and the sheikdoms of the Gulf, an Islam that accepts gambling clubs and nude beaches."
"It is strange to see a leadership party that claims to be associated with moderate Islam and at the same time it says it does not call for ruling by Islam," he said.
He said that the moderate Islam meant that an "Islam which accepts Muslims to fight alongside the American army in Afghanistan."
"Rise up to support your Shariah and incite the people for a popular uprising instigating them to defend the Shariah and tell them what about what (plot) is being hatched against Islam," he said.
Al-Zawahri took over as leader of al-Qaida after its founder, Osama bin Laden, was killed in a U.S. military strike last May. He compared moderate Islam that does not depend on the Shariah to "a hospital that has nothing to do with treatment, or a pharmacy that has nothing to do with selling drugs, or an army which is not interested in fighting."