Tunisia – “Al Quds Al Arabi”: Rania Toukabri, a Tunisian aerospace engineer, has become the talk of the hour in her country these days because of a statement regarding the relationship between science and belief in God, which sparked a wide division among Tunisians, and exposed Toukabri to a major attack and broad sympathy at the same time.
During her hosting a few days ago on the “Under the Wall” program on the private “Ninea” channel, Tokabri said, “Knowledge always brings us closer to God, and there are many things mentioned in the Qur’an that scientists are discovering now, and this is what I personally discovered during my work and when I read the Qur’an, especially the verses that speak About the universe, the sun, the moon and the planets.
Tokabri is participating in an international science project organized by ESA engineers and scientists as the Analog Astronaut Training Center, where the mission of astronauts on the Moon is simulated in a research laboratory isolated from time and natural light.
Her recent statement sparked a sharp division within Tunisia, as some questioned her scientific certificates and her work with the European Space Agency, given that “there is no article about her in the European media.”
Daher, what is a name? #Rania_Altokabri Not available at all, on the European Space Agency’s website
Not even a scientific publication by the European Space Agency or a newspaper article by a European media reported on a lunar mission program/project, in which a “Tunisian astronaut” has the rank of “deputy commander” with this name! pic.twitter.com/B9Tk9tpLrI
— The Godfather (@Al_Pacino_) January 7, 2022
Others considered that she had interfered in matters that she was ignorant of, and that she had to speak only in her field of competence, leaving religious matters and knowledge of the Creator to the clergy.
The journalist, Sabera Al-Awni, addressed Al-Tokabri, saying, “You, as an astronaut, do not care about your religious opinion, and your relationship with God is a private matter for you and does not concern me, just as scholars do not talk about religious matters.”
In response to the massive campaign against her and questioning her scientific competence, Tokabri wrote on her Facebook page (later removed the post), “I am not required to justify any words I said (…) The project (the lunar village, the lunar station) was launched a few months ago, and I received its first files last month. . This is a project in its first steps. I was keen to write things accurately so as not to mix things up. Space agencies assign projects to government or private companies, each one specializing in part. I work on (European) space agency projects within the private sector and with the space agency team and not in it.”
Regarding the objection to linking it between science and belief in God, Tokabri said, “My opinion on any issue is mine alone, and no one has the right to interfere. It is a personal opinion in the process of research, and I am not influential (in public opinion) and have nothing to do with religion, politics or metaphysics. Do not enter me into discussions that have nothing to do with me.”
A large number of Tunisians sympathized with Toukabri about the campaign that she was subjected to, as the journalist Burhan Basis, presenter of the “Under the Wall” program, commented on what Tokabri wrote by saying, “We wanted – by hosting it – to send a message to Tunisian youth that there is hope for success through work and perseverance in All fields, especially since Rania Toukabri graduated from schools and universities in Tunisia. But she was attacked, her scientific competence questioned, and her personal opinion was criticized.”
Tokabri addressed him by saying, “I wanted to tell you: I apologize for making you live this harsh experience by getting to know a part of your great people who turned into North African Hindus, whose specialty is the reverence of the sacred cow of failure!”
Former MP Al-Sahbi bin Faraj commented, “This people does not succeed and does not like those who succeed!” The former leader of the Ennahda movement, Muhammad bin Jama`ah, added, “All solidarity with Rania. This is a cancerous disease that gnaws at many Tunisians.”
Former Minister Khaled Shawkat wrote, “By God Almighty, he made it easy for me to visit almost the entire Islamic world, from Bangladesh and Indonesia in the east to the Far Maghreb in the west, and from Tatarstan in the heart of the Russian Federation in the north to sub-Saharan Africa in the south. Confused and skeptical between “Hadthout” and Islam, as is the case in my country, Tunisia.. Even the leader of the fascist movement and some of our “tackdoush” are more “Islamophobic” than “Marian Le Pen,” “Eric Zemmour” and “Gert Feldzer,” according to our professor, Dr. Ahmed. Al-Qadidi, and to the degree of researcher Rania Al-Toukabri’s alienation in her homeland and among her family, because she said that her work in space science has strengthened her belief in God.”
He asked, “Who has planted this pathological hatred of religion in the hearts and minds of some Tunisians to the point that Islam has become, in their opinion, synonymous with terrorism, while a large number of Western scholars, philosophers and thinkers did justice to it and said that it is a religion of civilization and peace and a great contribution to the history of humanity?”
He added, “The complex of “self-contempt” has no cure, as was told decades ago by Dr. Ali Shariati in his famous book “The Return to the Self.” This event is the secret of this cultural dependency, civilizational backwardness, and scientific and cognitive hesitation. Neither to these nor to those. Finally, I say that they have nothing to do with the reformist national thought on which the fathers of the Tunisian national reform movement established their project of liberation, complete independence, and joining the advanced nations.
And this is not the first time that a debate has taken place in Tunisia about the relationship between religion and science. Months ago, the Ministry of Religious Affairs’ call to perform rain prayers after the delay in the rains aroused great controversy. Ascites is “just a sorcery” and will not contribute to the country’s rainfall.
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