A democratic coup d’etat? Secularists debate the new Tunisian constitution

As debate over the new constitution begins in the Constituent Assembly, Tunisian secular activists are crying foul of attempts to introduce Islamic law in the new constitution. Ons Bouali writes in Nawaat:

After months of comedy, the masks are falling off. Ennahdha’s true colors have been revealed, abandoning the charade of “a civil party with Islamic references” and seeing its theocratic project go ahead successfully, all with our blessing. Without unfounded dramatizing or timidity as to the question of the compatibility of Islam and democracy, Proposing Charia as the “essential” source of law, coupled with criminalization of any damage to public order as constitutional principles, we are plunged into dark tunnel which we will inevitably fall into the trap of a religious dictatorship

She goes on to condemn the prospect of putting the question to voters in a referendum:

If the Constituent Assembly cannot reach a consensus, this article will be subject to a referendum. “Let the ballot boxes decide! Let the people choose! Long live democracy!” Nonsense. Submitting this article to a referendum will deeply divide Tunisia and will have irreversible consequences given the noxious atmosphere prevailing in the country. The question “For or against charia as an essential source of law” will be transformed in public opinion as “for or against Islam” when in reality the question is actually “for or against a religious dictatorship.” It’s all a question of interpretation and individual analysis. The lunacy of such a referendum rests in the invitation of a people to renounce their own sovereignty, putting it in the hands of religious men who because of their high religious authority will be impossible to “degage.”

The rest of the article is an interesting analysis and an insight into secularist thought in Tunisia.

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