Tunisia needs separation of mosque and state – religaffairs min

By Reuters Staff
February 24, 2011
tunis secular

(Tunisians march against Islamists and for interfaith harmony in Tunis, February 19, 2011. The protesters' T-shirts in Arabic read: "Tunisia secular", the sign on top reads: "Tunisia for all" and the sign on bottom left in French reads: "Terrorism is not Tunisia"/Zoubeir Souissi)

Tunisia’s revolution is unlikely to trigger Islamic militancy in the traditionally secular state, but Muslim leaders should avoid mixing religion with politics, the government’s minister of religious affairs said.

“After the January 14 revolution, the country experienced change on every level, including the religious sphere,” Aroussi Mizouri, minister of religious affairs in the caretaker government, told Reuters. “Today, there is no restriction on speech in the mosques. But they should not become platforms for political ideology,” he said in an interview this week. “We are counting on everyone to keep our society open and tolerant.”

Religious tensions have been on the rise in the normally sleepy Mediterranean country, with anti-Islamist protests clogging central Tunis last weekend after a flurry of pro-Islamist demonstrations. The murder of a priest and reports of threats against Tunisia’s small Jewish community have also raised concerns among moderate Tunisians, worried that a post-revolution security vacuum could encourage religiously-motivated crime.

“I think that the coexistance of all religions in Tunisia will continue always, and the Jewish and Christian minorities will always have the respect of Tunisia,” Mizouri said. “They have and always will be a part of Tunisian society.”

Read the full article by Tarel Amara here.
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