03 July 2013 3:37 pm | | 5


Share     Share       Share     Share  

Iyed Dahmani at the NCA, June 1, 2013. Photo credit: Emily Parker, Tunisia Live

Iyed Dahmani at the NCA, June 1, 2013. Photo credit: Emily Parker, Tunisia Live

Disorder and accusations have reigned this week as the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) debates the draft constitution, with the role of religion in Tunisian political society surfacing as a major point of contention.

Monday’s session was chaired by NCA Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar and Habib Khedher, a member of the ruling Ennahdha party and secretary-general of the committee responsible for preparing the final draft of the constitution.

During the session, opposition members frequently yelled and clapped while Khedher was reciting the draft of the constitution before the chamber, registering their disapproval of the document. 

Since then, the NCA sessions have been devoted to individual members reciting their opinions on the current draft.

Much of the opposition’s displeasure stems from an article in the draft addressing Tunisia’s identity as an Arab and Muslim country.

Article 141 of the draft constitution specifically states that “Islam is the religion of the state.” This language contrasts with Article 1 of the draft, which states that Tunisia is a “free sovereign, whose religion is Islam, language is Arabic, and regime is republic.”  This article was copied directly from the 1959 constitution.

Article 141 is also the only article in the draft constitution that, according to its language, cannot be amended at any point.

Critics believe the language in Article 141 creates too-close an association between religion and the state and suggests that the government must be Islamic.

Ennahdha party members dismissed these concerns, saying that the committee that submitted this final draft, headed by Khedher, proceeded properly.

“More than twenty deputies were involved in the discussion, expressing their opinions and working hard to deliver a consensual constitution that could satisfy all parties” Khedher told Tunisia Live. “The session went really well and all opinions were considered.”

However, Samia Abou, formerly a member of President Moncef Marzouki’s Congress for the Republic (CPR) party, considers Khedher’s committee to be an illegitimate substitute for the actual constitutional committees she says are responsible for forming and presenting the draft constitution. 

“We worked hard for over a year and a half to provide Tunisians with a decent and unifying constitution. What Habib Khedher is trying to do is outrageous and illegitimate,” Abbou said to Tunisia Live. “Habib Khedher and especially his political party Ennahdha try to deliver a religious message by taking advantage of their current power.”

“The exceptional session for the revision of the constitution was meant to send a warning to Tunisians that their rights and freedoms are endangered and that theocracy is looming ahead,” Abbou asserted.

Amine Mahfoudh, a constitutional expert at the University of Sousse, told Tunisia Live that the language in Article 141 that forbids its own amendment is technically meaningless and nonsensical.

His concerns went beyond this point, however.

“Article 141 clearly states that Islam is the religion of the state. This is utterly anti-democratic since it identifies no separation between the religion and the judicial system,” Mahfoudh said. “This article allows the ruling government to impose a certain interpretation of religion. We are not afraid of Islam, but we are afraid of imposing one singular doctrine to a diverse community.”

Share     Share       Share     Share  

  From the same category

            

New Areas Around Chaambi Declared Military Zones

Pollution Ravages Old Port of Tunis

NCA Approves Judicial Body, Looks Ahead to Electoral Law

Motocross Racers in the Forests of Bizerte

            

Members ‘Freeze’ NCA Participation Over Reduced Sentences for Ben Ali Officials

Ben Ali Officials To Be Released in Revolution Killings Case

UGTT Union Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Six Security Officers Injured in Rouhia Clashes

            

Tunisia Marks Martyrs Day with Calm Demonstrations

Martyrs’ Day Remembers Protesters Killed Under French Rule

Four Police Officers Convicted with Killing Protesters During Revolution

Libya Border Crossing Reopens After Protests


Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. SeifJ says:

    Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on their citizens… …undermine all our civil rights.
    - Thomas Jefferson

  2. V says:

    Religion and Politics do not mix, always spreads fear and danger, is there another Egypt looming?

  3. Tunisian Man says:

    There is no need for a “State Religion,” it only makes for future problems. Let a free people decide on what, if any, religion they want for themselves as individuals.

Leave Feedback


  Follow us

Connect on YouTube Connect on Google+ Connect to itunes Subscribe via RSS Feed



  Latest Videos


Play Video

Motocross Racers in the Forests of Bizerte, Tunisia

Bizerte, the northernmost city in Africa, hosted the fourth round of the...

Play Video

Endangered Whale Brought Ashore in Tunis Suburb

Onlookers in the popular tourist spot of Sidi Bou Said, near Tunis,...

Play Video

'Kima Enti:' Mixing Tunisian Traditions With Modern Design

"Kima Enti" is a hand-made art and design project launched by independent...

Play Video

One-Year Anniversary of Chokri Belaid's Death

On February 6, 2014, family and supporters of slain Tunisian politician Chokri...

Play Video

Klay BBJ explains his arrest

Tunisia Live's Nissaf Slama interviews rapper Klay BBJ on his music, arrest,...



Tabbed Structure - Regular
UGTT Union Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize...
(1531 Views)
Unemployed Tunisians Risk Their Lives to Build Future...
(1309 Views)
Tunisia Returns Stolen Ancient Artifact to Algeria...
(1191 Views)
Switzerland to Return $40 Million in Ben Ali...
(1188 Views)
Pollution Ravages Old Port of Tunis...
(964 Views)
NCA Approves Judicial Body, Looks Ahead to Electoral...
(956 Views)
Motocross Racers in the Forests of Bizerte...
(928 Views)
Ben Ali Officials To Be Released in Revolution...
(862 Views)
Members ‘Freeze’ NCA Participation Over Reduced Sentences for...
(830 Views)
 
Low Turnout and Mixed Feelings for Algerians Voting in Tunisia...
Update: Libyan Kidnappers Demand Militants’ Release...
New Areas Around Chaambi Declared Military Zones...
Pollution Ravages Old Port of Tunis...
NCA Approves Judicial Body, Looks Ahead to Electoral Law...
Motocross Racers in the Forests of Bizerte...
Unemployed Tunisians Risk Their Lives to Build Future in Europe...
Members ‘Freeze’ NCA Participation Over Reduced Sentences for Ben Ali Officials...
Ben Ali Officials To Be Released in Revolution Killings Case...