Daily Israel Report

Tunisia: 'Only a Muslim Can Be President'

Tunisian Parliament passes law stating that Islam is state religion - and as such, President can only be Muslim as a 'good citizen.'
By Dalit Halevy, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/6/2014, 10:11 PM

Illustration: Mosque
Illustration: Mosque
Thinkstock

The Tunisian Parliament approved a new constitution Monday. Despite reports that the constitution guarantees both separation of powers and civil rights, it lacks one crucial clause: absolute freedom of religion - for its politicians. 

The new constitution names Islam as the official religion. While RT reported Sunday that Sharia Law will not be the basis of the constitution, Article 73 of the new plan does demand that the President be exclusively Muslim - as a model of being a good Tunisian citizen.

Other edicts enacted by the charter include a landmark move granting equal rights to both genders. "All male and female citizens have the same rights and duties. They are equal before the law without discrimination," states article 20 of the text, which was approved by 159 lawmakers out of the 169 who voted, according to AFP. Human rights groups have lauded the move. 

Two years ago, Tunisians elected the moderate Islamist Ennahda party in the country's first free and competitive elections. It formed a government in alliance with two secular parties.

Tunisia has been roiled by social unrest and political crises ever since, the latest sparked by the murder in July of another opposition politician, Mohamed Brahmi, which triggered calls for the resignation of the coalition government.

In October, Tunisian parties agreed to sign a roadmap enabling a new government, and to draft a new constitution in 2014 to keep the country stable and under freer leadership.