By Afef Abrougui | Jan 6 2014apostasy ,Constitution ,ellouze ,infidel ,rahoui ,
After a contentious Sunday session, Tunisiaâ€™s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) today resumed article by article voting on the new constitution.
The assembly has been tasked with approving the entire 146-article document by January 13.
Mondayâ€™s plenary session was supposed to be scheduled for the selection of the membership of the board of elections. However, the NCA committee tasked with submitting a final list of nominees to an NCA plenary session has not reached consensus, deputy Karima Souid tweeted.
The NCA started the vote on the Rights and Liberties Chapter of the constitution by adopting nine articles during todayâ€™s morning session.
Among these are Article 21, which states that â€œlife is sacred.â€ This article, however, maintains the legality of the the death penalty in â€œextreme cases regulated by law.â€ Proposed amendments to abolish this punishment were rejected.
Though the death penalty has always existed in Tunisian law, the last execution dates back to 1991.
Other articles approved today ban torture (Article 22), guarantee the right to privacy and personal data protection (Article 23), and the right to a fair trial (Article 26).
On Sunday, however, the constituent assembly did not achieve much progress on approving the constitution. The dayâ€™s plenary session was disrupted by death threats allegedly received by Popular Front opposition member Mongi Rahoui.
Rahoui reported receiving death threats following the declarations by Ennahdha deputy Habib Ellouze, in which he referred to him as an â€œenemy of Islam.â€
In response to Rahouiâ€™s declaration, the opposition proposed an amendment to Article 6 banning â€œtakfirâ€ (accusations of apostasy) to Article 6, which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion. The amendment, which also bans â€œincitement to violence,â€ was approved by 131 votes in the 217-seat assembly.
Under Article 6, the state acts as the â€œguarantor of the neutrality of places of worshipâ€ and â€œprotector of the Sacred.â€
Amira Yahyaoui, president of NCA monitoring organization Al-Bawsala, criticized the amendment and described it as â€œdraconianâ€ in a post on Twitter.
NCA deputies â€œfrom the Islamist camp till the so-called democratic one have today voted against freedom of expression,â€ she said on Sunday.
The NCA kicked off voting on the constitution last Friday by adopting the preamble.
On Saturday, a total of 15 articles were adopted including the first two defining Tunisia as a Republic and a â€œcivil state governed by the supremacy of Lawâ€ and establishing Islam as the state religion.
Proposed amendments to make the Quran and Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet Mohammed) main sources of legislation were rejected.