Tunisian party proposes Islamic constitution due to alarm secularists
The third-largest party in Tunisia’s constituent assembly, charged with writing a new constitution, has proposed a draft document based on Islamic law which will likely alarm the country’s secularists. The moderate Islamist Ennahda party won a 40 percent share in the assembly, or 89 seats, in Tunisia’s first election since the ouster of Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali a year ago sparked the Arab Spring uprisings across the region.
The non-religious Conference for the Republic won 29 seats in the 217-seat assembly and Aridha Chaabia, or Popular List, came in third. Should the proposal win the support of more than 60 percent of parliamentarians, it would pass without a referendum.
Popular List said in a statement on Monday that its draft document “stipulates in its first article that Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign country, Islam is its religion and the principal source of its legislation, Arabic is its language and its system is a republic”.
“Using Islamic sharia as a principal source of legislation will guarantee freedom, justice, social equality, consultation, human rights and the dignity of all its people, men and women.”
The proposal is certain to inflame political tensions in Tunisia, where secularists already fear that the Ennahda-led government will slowly Islamise Tunisian law and society. Ennahda has sought to assure secularists that it has no intention of enforcing Islamic rules, but it has struggled to control more conservative Islamists who have been outspoken in their demands that religion play a greater role in public life.