(Members of parliament attend a session of Tunisia's constitutional assembly in Tunis November 23, 2011. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi )

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.”