A high school teacher in Djerba has been accused of blasphemy by a local Imam, spreading shock-waves through the local community and potentially endangering the man’s life.
During Friday prayers last week, an Imam directed a barrage of criticism at an Arabic-language teacher at a high school in the town of Midoun, accusing him of inciting pupils to leave Islam and embrace atheism. The teacher has been subjected to public backlash after the claims, and has been unable to leave his home for fear for his safety, according to the head of the Regional Union of Secondary Education in Djerba Mr. Walid Gharbi.
While it remains unclear precisely what comments the teacher might have made, Gharbi said that “an investigation is being carried out” to determine the facts. In any event, the Imam’s behavior, Gharbi insisted, was dangerous and unacceptable, and he “should be legally sued” adding that, “The Regional Union of Secondary Education is waiting for an official apology from the perpetrator of these claims.”
In a bid to safeguard the teacher, the union has confirmed that it is is considering plans to move the unnamed teacher him from Midoun to an undisclosed location within Tunisia.
After several attempts to contact the Ministry of Religious Affairs, a spokesperson would not be drawn to comment on the affair, saying only that the ministry is following the story, but declining to offer any further information.
General Secretary of the Union of Imams, Fadhel Achour, however expressed his regret over the insults directed towards the teacher. While Achour said he is still getting up to speed on the details , if initial reports proved correct then the Imam concerned should be suspended. Moreover, Achour added, there should be urgent action taken to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.
Achour also mentioned that, since the Troika era religious extremists have had access to leadership roles within religious institutions and suggested that the manner in which future appointments are made should likely be reviewed.
The 2014 Tunisian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens, and does not condemn atheism. Article Six stipulates that the State posits itself as the sole guardian of religion and guarantees freedom of religion, the free exchange of ideas, and the political neutrality of mosques.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.