TUNISIA: No religion in the New Constitution

There will be no religion in Tunisia’s planned changes to the constitution, the Islamist-led coalition government said on Monday morning, in a move that is already garnering widespread support.

Instead, the Islamist Ennahda party, who won some 40 percent of the vote late last month, will focus the new constitution on democracy, human rights and a free-market economy.

According to Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi, Islamic law, or Sharia, will be left out of the new constitution in order to maintain a secular interpretation of the rule of law, he told Reuters news agency.

“We are against trying to impose a particular way of life,” said Ghannouchi.

It comes as critics of the Islamist group, a more moderate Islamist party won 41.7 percent of the vote in the country’s first free and fair election since a protest movement ousted the former regime in January, have voiced concern over the future of Tunisia.

Women had been fearful that the Islamic leaning party could attempt to implement a series of reforms that would curtail their freedom, but average citizens appear less worried on Monday after Ghannouchi’s statements.

“I was definitely scared that they would force us all to veil and would hurt our chances of work and freedom, but now I don’t think there is anything to really worry about,” said Marwa, a 29-year-old accountant in Tunis, the capital. She said that Ennahda has shown itself to be “a Tunisian party and one that while conservative, won’t destroy our identity.”

All political parties have already agreed to maintain the old constitution’s first article that explicitly states Arabic and Islam as the foundation for the country.

“This is just a description of reality,” Ghannouchi said. “It doesn’t have any legal implications.

“There will be no other references to religion in the constitution. We want to provide freedom for the whole country,” said the Islamist leader, who will not take any official role in the new government. The new constitution is due some time next year.

 

Bikyamasr: No religion in Tunisia’s constitution, says Islamist leader

 

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