02 May 2013 2:29 pm | | 5


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Kazdaghli Niqab Tunisia Manouba

Photo of Habib Kazdaghli, November 2012

The dean of a Tunisian university accused of assaulting a veiled female student was acquitted Thursday.

Two female students, including Fatouma Haji, the one who accused him of assault, were convicted of damaging the dean’s property and each received postponed four-month sentences.

In a press conference following the verdict’s announcement, Dean Habib Kazdaghli said he thanked “democratic forces and the media for their support. The judicial system has proven its independence despite attempts to influence the process.”

The press conference at Manouba University was attended by various scholars and several members of the National Constituent Assembly, including Nadia Chaaban of the opposition Al Massar party.

Kazdaghli, dean of the University of Arts and Humanities at Manouba, was accused in March 2012 of assaulting Haji, who was wearing a niqab, a veil revealing only the eyes. Kazdaghli has consistently denied these accusations, saying the fully veiled student stormed in and ransacked his office.

The incident sparked a national debate and controversy between secular and religious forces in society over whether female students should be able to wear the niqab.

Kazdaghli’s trial has taken place over the course of the last year. He has received support from several scholars and professors, the Tunisian General Labor Union (known by its French acronym UGTT) and also from some members of the National Constituent Assembly.

Kazdaghli had expressed concern in the past over the Islamist government’s potential influence over the trial. He previously told Tunisia Live that he was concerned justice would be politicized.

Last year’s incident followed several student demonstrations and a number of clashes that erupted over the school’s policy to prohibit female students from wearing the niqab in classes and on campus.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the sentences of the two students were suspended, not postponed.

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  1. Festival Brings Documentary Films to Tunis | 08 May 2013
  1. maria says:

    what happens to the people who attacked this man or who damaged the school…..why are they not reported on

  2. Publicola says:

    it seems justice has finally been done – congratulations and chapeau!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=582wECI1o5A

    • Publicola says:

      An earlier version of this story said the sentences of the two students were suspended, not postponed.

      The exact term to be used is a matter of the comparability and the nearest possible translation of a juridical terms.

      In the Tunisian Francophone press the juridical term used is ‘avec sursis’,
      i.e. ‘La peine ne sera effectuée que si le condamné manque à ses obligations, par exemple en récidivant, au cours d’un certain délai’ (wikipedia.fr) – the penalty will be carried out, if the sentenced or convicted
      person does not observe or obey his or her bligations for example, by committing the same or another second offence.

      The adequate juridical term in English would then be correctly ‘suspended sentence’,
      i.e. ‘A suspended sentence is a legal term for a judge’s delaying of a defendant’s serving of a sentence after they have been found guilty, in order to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation. If the defendant does not break the law during that period, and fulfills the particular conditions of the probation, the judge usually throws out the sentence’ (wikipedia.en).

      In German the appropriate juridical term would be ‘Bewährung’

      • maria says:

        Thanks for that…not much of a sentence in any language…given when the man would have gotten if found guilty

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