Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

WEB NEWS

Israel and Hamas battle online over public opinion

Read more

FOCUS

Can Chancellor Merkel's winning streak last?

Read more

FOCUS

Hunger in a fertile land...

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Why Are So Many Children Dying in Gaza?'

Read more

  • Air Algerie ‘lost contact’ with flight leaving Burkina Faso

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death arrives in Italy

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • In pictures: Thousands march for Gaza peace in Paris

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • France charges Swiss bank UBS with tax fraud

    Read more

  • Israel faces heightened diplomatic pressure as Gaza violence rages

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

    Read more

  • Netherlands holds day of mourning for victims of flight MH17

    Read more

  • Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down over rebel-held territory

    Read more

  • Ryanair ordered to pay back €9.6m in illegal state aid to France

    Read more

Africa

Thousands rally for women’s rights in Tunisia

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-14

Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets late Monday to protest against Islamist-backed changes to the constitution that they say will endanger women’s rights. The demonstration was the biggest show of opposition activism since April.

REUTERS - Thousands of Tunisians rallied on Monday to protest against what they see as a push by the Islamist-led government for constitutional changes that would degrade women’s status in one of the Arab world’s most liberal nations.

The protest, by some 6,000 mostly Tunisian women, is the latest twist in a row over the role of Islam in a constitution being drawn up by a new assembly.

Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda Movement is under pressure from both hardline Salafi Muslims, calling for the introduction of Islamic law, and secular opposition parties.

Activists are not happy with a stipulation in a draft of the constitution that considers women to be “complementary to men” and want a pioneering 1956 law that grant women full equality with men to remain in place.

The protesters marched across main thoroughfares in the capital Tunis to demand that the government, led since October by Islamist moderates Ennahda, turn its attention instead to basic issues such as unemployment and regional development.

They carried banners that read “Rise up women for your rights to be enshrined in the constitution” and “Ghannouchi clear off, Tunisian women are strong”, referring to Ennahda’s leader Rachid Ghannouchi.

Sami Layouni, 40, was among a minority of men attending the protest. “We are here to support women and to say there are men who stand for women’s rights,” he said, carrying a placard that said: “A woman is no complement, she is everything”.

“We are proud of Tunisian women ... and we will not let Islamists turn our spring into a winter,” he said.

Carrying a placard that called for equal rights, 52-year-old Fouzia Belgaid said last year’s revolt should not have led to such debate in Tunisian society.

“Normally, more important issues ought to be tackled like unemployment, regional development. Ennahda seems bent on making steps backwards but we are here to say that Tunisian women will not accept that,” she said.

“I fear for the future of my daughters who may grow up in a totally different Tunisia,” she said.

Banned under Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled last year in mass protests that sparked the Arab Spring, Ennahda won the most seats in elections to a constituent assembly in October and formed a government in coalition with two secular parties.

The party has promised not to impose strict Muslim rules and to respect women’s rights. Its member Farida al-Obeidi, who chairs the assembly’s human rights and public freedoms panel, said the wording of the draft did not represent a backwards step for Tunisian women.

The draft stipulates “sharing of roles and does not mean that women are worth less than men”, she said.

Activists are concerned that once approved the new rules would lead to future setbacks.

“Major retreats usually begin with one step,” said Ahlam Belhadj, who chairs the Democratic Women’s Association. “If we stay silent today, we will open the door to everything else and end up surprised by even more serious decisions,” she said

Date created : 2012-08-14

  • TUNISIA

    Medal-winning Tunisian fuels women’s rights debate

    Read more

  • TUNISIA

    Protests hit birthplace of Tunisian revolution

    Read more

COMMENT(S)