Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

  • Frantic search for South Korea ferry passengers continues

    Read more

  • Kiev powerless as pro-Russia activists seize armoured vehicles

    Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘this election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in eastern Congo

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

Africa

Tunisia's Islamists rule out sharia in constitution

©

Text by Julien PEYRON

Latest update : 2012-03-28

The Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda have ruled out introducing sharia law in the country’s new constitution. It is a gesture to those seeking to keep Islam out of politics, but also an astute political move by Ennahda.

Ennahda, the Islamist party dominating the Tunisian constituent assembly, has announced it would not write Islamic sharia law into the country’s new constitution, assuring it wants to maintain the secular nature of the state.

The party said on Monday it wanted to keep the first article of the 1959 constitution intact in an apparent bid to assure secularists who are worried that Ennahda is intent on bringing in sharia through the back door.

The article specifically separates religion and state, stating “Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state, its religion is Islam, its language is Arabic and it is a republic.”

“We are not going to impose religion,” Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi told journalists. “The first article of the constitution is the object of consensus among all sectors of society: preserving Tunisia's Arab-Muslim identity while also guaranteeing the principles of a democratic and secular state," he said.

Preserving the unity of Tunisian society

FRANCE 24 international specialist Gauthier Rybinski explained, the article meant “Islam is the state religion, but cannot be the source of legislation.”

But he added: “This is above all a political move by Ennahda. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali is organising elections for 2013. For his party to win, he needs to be seen to be preserving the unity of Tunisian society.”

The ruling party is in an uncomfortable position, under pressure from both hard-line salafists who ardently support sharia law and secularists who want to maintain the separation between religion and state that has been a cornerstone of Tunisian nationhood since it gained independence from France.

Habib Bourguiba, the founder and the first president of the Tunisian Republic (1957), imposed strict secularisation that made the country a model for protecting women’s rights.

For the past month, the pro- and anti-sharia lobbies have been pouring pressure on the constituent assembly and engaging in protests on the streets of Tunis.

For instance, salafists have been demonstrating for women to be allowed to wear the full Islamic veil at the Manouba University near Tunis.

Defending the rights of minorities

There were also tensions at the weekend when pro-sharia protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans at a rally in Tunis.

Ghannouchi was swift to condemn these voices, insisting "Tunisia guarantees the rights of all citizens. We defend all minorities, including the Jewish minority".

But despite these public pronouncements, many of the country’s secularists fear Ennahda has a “hidden agenda” and wants to “impose sharia in small steps,” according to Rybinski.

And there are other pressures on the Tunisian constituent assembly, above all achieving economic growth and reviving the vital tourism sector, which has stalled since the 2011 “Jasmine Revolution” deposed dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

“Everyone in Tunisia knows that the tourism sector will have little chance of rebounding in a country that imposes sharia law,” said Rybinski.

 

Date created : 2012-03-28

  • TUNISIA

    Tunisia to 'hold parliamentary elections within a year'

    Read more

  • TUNISIA

    Thousands call for constitution to include Islamic law

    Read more

  • TUNISIA

    The unfinished revolution of Tunisia's women

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)