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Tunisia

Is Qatar training Egyptian fighters in Idlib, Syria?

Is Qatar training Egyptian fighters in Idlib, Syria?

Qatar’s global media outlet, Aljazeera, reported that 200 Egyptian military officers and experts are now in Syria. The report, is based on a Lebanese source, came days after the Egyptian president, Abdulfattah al-Sisi, in an interview to Portuguese media, said that he supported the Syrian national army in its war on terrorists. This seemingly new position has angered the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who back the Syrian opposition fighters and have been pushing for the removal of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Some sources, however, have also revealed that Qatar is training Egyptian Islamists in Idlib, Syria. This revelation could explain the increased collaboration between the Syrian and Egyptian governments. Egypt, like Syria, has been battling Salafi and other Islamist militants. If these elements are being trained in Syria and supported by Qatar, Egypt will be forced to collaborate with the Syrian and Libyan governments who are facing the same threats. 
Fath al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra front, which is backed by Qatar, controls Idlib, and has released multiple videos showing individuals engaged in war games, with indication that some of these fighters are not training for the war in Syria, which could support the assertion that Idlib is turning into training grounds for fighters from other countries, including Egypt, China, Tunisia, France, and Algeria.
It should be noted also that when al-Julani, the leader of al-Nusra, announced the name change of his group’s name into Jabhat Fath al-Sham, sitting next to him was a known Egyptian Salafist, another reason for Egypt to be concerned about the role of Qatar in supporting groups that might pose a security threat to Egypt.
 al-Julani, announcing the name change of al-Nusra Front
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#IslamicSocietiesReview : The end of political Islam starts in Tunisia

#IslamicSocietiesReview : The end of political Islam starts in Tunisia

#IslamicSocietiesReview Comment:  

Adjusting to domestic, regional, and international challenges, Ennahda, the leading Islamist movement in North Africa, charted a new path that embraces pluralism and co-existence. Recalling that the rise of political Islam was necessitated by tyranny and oppression, Ennahda, now, embraces politics and honors Islam, but not mix them. Its leadership has chosen to distinguish between the ethical/theological and the political. In doing so, Ennahda has all but repudiated the actions taken by the Muslim Brotherhood which wanted to dominate the political and social life in Egypt. Realizing the enormity of the transition, Ennahda opted to re-elect its founder, Rached al-Ghannouchi, president one more time. Should he manage to keep the movement united and prevent it from bleeding members to militant Salafi groups, Ennahda would be a model for Arab countries’ religious movements.
Underscoring these challenges, Ghannounchi delivered a key address to the movements’ members; below is the original speech and a translation.

 

In the Name of God, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful

Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds, and prayers and peace be on his messenger

Your Excellency President of the People’s Assembly

Your Excellencies,
Ministers,
Members of the diplomatic corps in Tunis,
Representatives of parties and organizations,
Dear friends and guests who have honored us by coming from abroad to attend our Congress,

Dear Guests,

Peace be upon you all.

And I also greet Nahdha’s faithful supporters – whether those inside the stadium, or the thousands more outside to whom I apologize – this opening ceremony should have been held in an open space; those who were afraid that this stadium may not be filled, are still not familiar with Nahdha.

Ladies and gentlemen, guests and delegates,

Today, we inaugurate, by God’s Grace, the tenth national party congress of Nahdha Party, the second national congress after the revolution.

Even during the most difficult periods of secret activity and police harassment under dictatorship, our Movement was committed to holding its national congress regularly, as a way of evaluating and reforming its path, reviewing its policies, and renewing its leadership. I do not believe that there is another party in the country, despite the great number of parties, that is holding its tenth party congress – which means that you are the oldest amongst political parties. Our first congress was held in 1979 – which means that in a period of around a third of a century, ten congress were held – that is an average of one congress every less than four years. That is an expression of the fact that Nahdha is run by institutions, by democracy, by consultation – an important Islamic value.

At the beginning of this occasion, we pray for the souls of the martyrs of the revolution and martyrs of the struggle against dictatorship, led by martyrs of the movement, such as student Othman Ben Mahmoud- through whom we salute Tunisia’s youth.

We also remember the martyrs of the national army and police, and victims of the war against terrorism, and victims killed by terrorism, led by martyrs Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi.

We reaffirm to all those that we remain faithful to the martyrs and that their sacrifices will not be in vain.

Our accumulated experience in the war against terrorism has struck fear into the opposite camp, which is now receding at the hands of the successful preemptive operations by our security and military forces. As we reaffirm Nahdha’s absolute support for the state in its war against ISIS and takfiri extremists, we say to them that Tunisia, despite all the sacrifices, is stronger than their hatred, and it will, God willing, defeat them. In this regard, the great city of Ben Guerdane set a living and striking example that our people will never be defeated by terrorism. A small city that refused to allow evil terrorists to settle in it – for Tunisia will not allow terrorism to triumph, thanks to its national unity and to the well-established concept of the state in this country – even if they may protest against the state or criticize it, they refuse to move from order to chaos – we salute the Tunisian state.

The path of the revolution, therefore, is one of political successes, re-establishing  security, and strengthening international solidarity, culminating in Tunisia being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the National Dialogue Quartet. Tunisia remains the shining candle among countries of the Arab Spring, having sparked the revolutions, demonstrating that democracy in the Arab world is possible.

In 2011, the spark was lit. Five ships sailed, carrying the hopes of their peoples for freedom and dignity. However, sadly within two years, storms and hardships surrounded those ships – storms of conspiracies, division, ideological polarization, mutual hatred, exclusion, revenge, assassinations, and terrorism.

Some ships met with destruction; others drowned in coups, civil wars and chaos. Tunisia’s ship was the exception. It was able to overcome the storms of the counter-revolution, chaos and destruction, thanks to Tunisians adopting the principle of dialogue, acceptance of the other, and avoidance of exclusion and revenge. We were able, by God’s grace, to bring Tunisia to the shores of safety.

At the height of the acute crisis of 2013, which threatened to drown Tunisia’s ship in the swamps of division, His Excellency President Beji Caied-Essebsi invited me to a dialogue, in a historic step. I agreed, and I said to those who criticized me at the time for going to Paris to meet him, that I was ready to go anywhere for the sake of Tunisia’s interest.

As I renew Nahdha’s wholehearted support for the policy of consensus, I say today to those who seek political gain through hostility to Nahdha: Do not divide our country. Our hands are stretched out to everyone; the system of consensus accommodates everyone; Tunisia’s ship can only sail safely if it carries all Tunisians.

In this context, I would like to commend members of the outgoing Consultative Council of the Party, and Nahdha members of the National Constituent Assembly who facilitated Tunisia’s path towards social peace and consensus through their difficult and wise decisions: when they chose to preserve the first article of the Constitution of 1959, when they voted against the political exclusion law, and when they approved the national dialogue roadmap. Thus they proved that Nahdha is a national party that places Tunisia’s interest above its own. And when we were discussing stepping down from legitimate elected government, we repeatedly said: We may lose power, but Tunisia will win.

I am full of pride in our sons and daughters who were patient and persevered, and withstood the campaigns of doubt, demonization and provocation against their Party.

At this sensitive juncture, I urge them to continue in the same way, for the most important thing for us, before anything else, is our country’s stability and prosperity. We stress that Nahdha will remain a pillar of support for Tunisia’s stability. We renew our support for the government of Prime Minister Essid and our commitment to the unity of the governing coalition and to the method of consensus which created the Tunisian exception.

We, in Nahdha, are serious and sincere in our desire to learn from our shortcomings before and after the revolution. We admit them and we humbly address them through reform. In our Congress we have an “Evaluation motion” – we are a party that evolves and reforms itself, and are not afraid to admit our mistakes.

We are a party that never stopped evolving – from the seventies to this day – from an ideological movement engaged in the struggle for identity – when identity was under threat, to a comprehensive protest movement against an authoritarian regime, to a national democratic party devoted to reform, based on a national reference drawing from the values of Islam, committed to the articles of the Constitution and the spirit of our age, thus consolidating the clear and definitive line between Muslim democrats and extremist and violent trends that falsely attribute themselves to Islam.

The specialization and distinction between the political and other religious or social activities is not a sudden decision or a capitulation to temporary pressures, but rather the culmination of a historical evolution in which the political field and the social, cultural and religious field were distinct in practice in our movement.

We are keen to keep religion far from political struggles and conflicts, and we call for the complete neutrality of mosques away from political disputes and partisan utilization, so that they play a role of unification rather than division.

Yet we are astonished to see the insistence of some to exclude religion from public life, despite the fact that the leaders of the national liberation movement considered religious sentiments to be a catalyst for revolution against occupation – just as today we see the values of Islam as a catalyst for development and promoting work, sacrifice, truthfulness, and integrity, and a positive force in our war against ISIS and extremists and supporting the state’s efforts in development. Otherwise, if we do not counter ISIS – which claims to represent Islam – through using Islamic values, how can we counter it? We need scholars who champion Islamic moderation and refute extremism in the name of Islam.

Despotic regimes disfigured Nahdha’s relationship with the state, through repression, defamation and fear mongering. But they have failed, by God’s Grace, to make the state and Nahdha mutual enemies. Our experience in government after the revolution proves that Nahdha is part of the state and a source of significant support for it. Our leaving government to promote the country’s unity proves that we are not power seekers, nor after domination nor monopoly of power.

The Tunisian state is our ship, which must carry all Tunisian men and women without any exception, exclusion of marginalization.

We ask here: when will attempts to undermine the state stop? And in whose interest are these attempts to weaken it, while it is combating terrorism, and seek anarchist methods to promote breaking the law?

The time has come not only to condemn that behavior, but to consider it a crime against the nation, martyrs and future generations.

Our call for a just state becomes devoid of meaning and value if that state is not also strong, able to apply the law and the Constitution and protect freedoms, under the supervision of the legislative and judicial powers, the specialized oversight bodies, civil society and the media.

Freedom does not mean chaos, just as the state’s power does not mean repression and denial of freedoms. It is necessary for the revolution to reinstate the role of our well-established state and of its institutions and members, providing for their needs, adopting incentives that encourage productivity and eliminate the mentality of routine administration, the “come back tomorrow”, “no network connection”, and “A little something for me”.

The dignity of public administration workers is part of the state’s dignity, and no economic or social renaissance can take place without a real administrative reform that includes full digitization and elimination of paper administration. When will we be able to have an administration where a businessman or a young entrepreneur can create a company in a few hours instead of wasting his life from one department to another.

While it was one of the gains of the revolution to develop administrative working hours by adopting the five-day week, it is now necessary to accelerate the pace of reform far from slogans and political wrangling.

We are proud of our state, we demand rights from it, and we fulfill our duties towards it. Amongst the prerequisites of reinstating respect for the state is that we announce a war on corruption, and that no one should enjoy impunity that places him above the law.

I say clearly that Nahdha Party is committed to combating corruption, bribery, tax evasion and wasting of public wealth. Our call for reconciliation does not mean whitewashing corruption or justifying or recreating a new system of corruption.
 

Our aim is to distinguish between the majority of businessmen and the minority implicated in corruption, and giving the latter the opportunity to own up, apologize and give back that which they acquired illegally. That would help encourage free economic enterprise.

We have stressed our support for the President’s economic reconciliation initiative, while we await the discussion of its details at the Assembly of People’s Representatives.

I also stress our commitment to the Transitional Justice process. Furthermore, I call for a comprehensive national reconciliation that turns a new page and prevents the perpetuation of enmity. The comprehensive national reconciliation we all seek is not the initiative of one person or one party, but for a whole country looking forward to the future.

Thus we have said repeatedly, we are for a comprehensive national reconciliation and for cooperation and consensus-building with all those who recognize the revolution and its martyrs and respect the Constitution, a partnership with all those who regard the revolution as  an opportunity for all of us – islamists, destourians, leftists, and all intellectual and political trends, so we can all go forward steadily towards a future that is free from grudges and exclusion.

Nor is it a “deal under the table” but rather a national vision of reconciliation between the state and citizens, between the state and deprived regions, between opposing political elites, between the past and the present – because Nahdha is a force of unification not one of division.

This also applies to the way we view our history, not as contradictory phases and figures – rather we see Khaireddine Al-Tounisi, Ahmed Bey, liberator of slaves, Moncef Bey, the late leader Habib Bourguiba, Farhat Hached, Abdelaziz Thaalibi, Salah Ben Youssef, Sheikh Mohamed Taher Ben Achour, and Tahar al-Haddad, God’s mercy be upon them all, all those and others, as leading symbols of our dear nation, as sources of inspiration for us all, which must all enjoy our respect. They undoubtedly had their mistakes, but we take the positives and build on them.

Tunisians are tired of politicians bickering on media debates; they are concerned about security, terrorism, the cost of living, economic development, and the struggle of vulnerable groups, the poor and deprived, and marginalized regions. You, Nahdha members and supporters, must not be drawn into the elite’s ideological battles, but should rather focus on the concerns of fellow citizens. A modern state is not run through ideologies, big slogans and political wrangling. It is guided by social and economic programs and solutions that provide security and prosperity for all.

Nahdha had evolved from defending identity, to ensuring the democratic transition, and today moves on to focus on the economic transition. The new phase is primarily about the economy.

 
Since liberation from colonization, Tunisia has achieved much in the fields of education, health, women’s rights, literacy and other fields of human development. We embrace and value those achievements. We commit to preserving and developing them, within the framework of the continuity of the state and our pride in the republican system and Tunisian society and its choices, as enshrined in the Tunisian Constitution.

I salute Tunisian women, in urban and rural areas, in Tunisia and abroad, in schools, universities and workplaces, in society and at home. Our movement is very proud of the gains and rights achieved by Tunisian women, and will continue to support them to guarantee further freedom and advancement in fulfilling their potential, and preserving the social fabric and the family as the source of social cohesion and unity.

We, Tunisians, are the product of the struggle of our mothers – Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou sitting here in front of you is the fruit of a hard-working illiterate woman, who gave Tunisian such a man. My own mother was also illiterate, but while my father merely focused on teaching us the Quran, she insisted on sending me and my brothers to continue our education, and accepted to work in the field with my sisters to give the males – only unfortunately the chance to be educated. My own wife, a university graduate, devoted her life to her children’s education such that my four daughters obtained their PhDs or masters, as did our two sons who have masters in law and economics. I salute Tunisian women, who made this nation an educated developed nation.

I say to young people, torn between ambition and despair, who are disappointed in the outcome of the revolution and the political class: We hear you.

You are the future for which we work. The difficulties you face today must not be a source of pessimism or disengagement from public life. We need to overcome these challenges together, through sincere attachment to the nation, determination and persistence.

We call on the political elite to think about the youth and to provide them with the space to participate and to assume responsibility. It is high time for a national pact for youth development, so that no young man or woman is left marginalized, with no job, house, or prospects to establish a family.

Education is Tunisians’ most valued capital. Today we are required to agree on a national vision for its reform in such a way that guarantees balance between knowledge and ethics, and employability. We have to address the dangers in young people’s environment: violence, drugs, all the ways to exploit young people’s minds through terrorism’s evil plots. We have to address how education has become divorced from the job market.

We must break with ad-hoc reforms and with the search for quantity without quality. It is necessary to stress that education must be a door to work, not a bridge to unemployment.

No human development can take place without a cultural renaissance, without supporting creativity, without establishing cultural and sports activities in all regions, particularly in marginalized regions and popular urban neighborhoods. We want to see in every popular neighborhood a swimming pool, a sports centre, a cultural centre.

Strengthening the vocational training system and promoting it and reinstating its value are undoubtedly among the pillars of our reform plan.

The post-revolution state inherited an unemployment rate that was close to 14% according to official statistics in 2011, and the current rate is close to that.

Unemployment is the result of historical accumulations in the fields of education and training, the restriction of economic enterprise by laws that restrict freedom of investment, and by weak infrastructure in most regions of the country making them unattractive for economic projects.

Overcoming unemployment can only take place within a holistic economic model based on investment, which creates jobs and achieves balanced regional development and eliminates the mentality which eschews entrepreneurship and even the value of work.

We believe in the necessity of implementing the principle of positive discrimination enshrined in the Constitution for the benefit of deprived regions. We welcome and support the coming process of decentralization after the local elections, just as we support the right of the regions to a percentage of their natural resources in order to achieve regional development.

As I call upon businessmen to invest, particularly in the inner regions, I stress the necessity to lift all restrictions placed before them in this regard.

I call from this platform for an urgent economic recovery program that prioritizes reactivating obstructed production in certain strategic sectors and implementing stalled public projects. This program must adopt exceptional measures in all fields related to employment, investment and developing deprived regions, and mobilize internal financial resources and reduce dependence on external debt by encouraging national savings, reforming taxation and further simplification of the procedures for creating companies and initiating projects.

It is necessary to seek to implement a major economic project in each priority district over the next five years, to begin to distribute national lands to young entrepreneurs, to launch a legislative and administrative revolution to lift restrictions to investment and entrepreneurship, and to support the government’s work through a major economic ministry.

It is also important to stress the need to spread social welfare coverage particularly for workers in the agricultural field, and to direct subsidies to those who need them, to reinstate the culture of work and the link between fulfilling one’s duty and demanding one’s right.

As I renew my call for a social truce that preserves the rights of workers and protects economic institutions, I salute the important role played by the Tunisian General Workers’ Union, the Union of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts, the Union of Agriculture and Fisheries and all national organizations for their role in development.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The revolution gave Tunisians abroad for the first time the right to be part of parliament and to elect their representatives, as an integral component of Tunisia. I call for further support to them as they face a new wave of xenophobia. And I call on them to further strengthen their economic ties to their beloved homeland through increasing transfers and spending their summer holidays in Tunisian hotels, as well as investing, and it is necessary to create incentives for them to do so.

It is important in this regard to support Tunisian diplomacy in its official and cultural dimensions, and economic diplomacy in particular. I stress Nahdha’s commitment to supporting the state’s foreign policy, and Tunisia’s role in spreading peace, consensus and combating terrorism around the world. As I commend the steps made by our Libyan neighbors towards reconciliation and unity, it is our hope that the Arab world will soon inaugurate an age of peace and comprehensive reconciliation.

We also express our commitment to the Arab Maghreb Union, and we salute our neighbors Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Libya, and renew our commitment to strengthening our relations with our Arab, Muslim and African neighbors, and our pride in the good relations between Tunisia and Europe, the United States of America and all countries around the world.

We are proud that the Tunisian experience, which has won international acclaim, has proven that the solution to conflict is consensus-building and seeking the foundation for co-existence. We have demonstrated that democracy is possible in the Arab world, and that democracy is the solution to corruption, bribery, despotism, chaos and terrorism, and that investing in democracy is better and more effective than supporting regressive dictatorships.

The solution is reconciliation between the poor and the rich, between the north and south, between cultures and civilizations, between faiths. Our world needs mutual understanding, peace, solidarity, security and tolerance.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Nahdha’s members, with their blood, tears and sacrifices, have gone through trials and tribulations that taught us courage to admit our errors and review our policies far from any arrogance or egoism.

Self-criticism is a condition for evolution in the modern world, and just as we have practiced it throughout our history, we will consolidate it in our Tenth Congress, for which Tunisians have many expectations.

The success of this congress is primarily about presenting a renewed united Nahdha that is able to participate in solving Tunisia’s problems, a party of national ambition, a party of objective analysis and constructive criticism that give rise to a democratic alternative, a party that is open to its environment and to all capabilities and potential, a party that is proud of its members – women and men.

Every individual in Nahdha is a story of sacrifice and heroism. Families that have been torn apart and exiled; tens of thousands of prisoners..

Nahdhaouis sacrificed a lot for the sake of Tunisia – that is why we regard Nahdha as the shared possession of Tunisia and all Tunisians, before belonging to Nahdha members and supporters. That is what strengthens our conviction that the choice of reform is our path to rising to our people’s aspirations, and that partnership and cooperation are our choice. Tunisia cannot be ruled in the coming years by the logic of majority and minority but rather by the logic of consensus and partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For many years, I was banned from entering Tunisia. When I used to see Tunis Air flights at any airport around the world, I would dream of returning to my land, dreams that were then very far from reality.

Will I return home one day?

Will I once again meet our sons and daughters scattered between dozens of prisons and places of exile?

Will I ever have the right to walk the streets of my country and congratulate my fellow Tunisians, my friends and family on festivals and Eids?

That dream has become a reality, by God’s Grace. And it continues to grow inside me day by day, turning from the dream of return to the dream of building a new beginning for Tunisia.

A dream of a better Tunisia – a united Tunisia; a democratic, developed and inclusive Tunisia.

We must share this dream with all Tunisians, as we look together with optimism, determination and hope to the future, not towards the past.

It is the Tunisian dream that motivates us to work hard and sacrifice in order to turn the revolution’s dreams into reality.

You, Tunisian men and women, are stronger than all difficulties and challenges.

You, grandchildren of Hannibal, Jugurtha, Oqba, Ibn Khaldun, el-Chebbi; children of Carthage, Kairouan, Mehdia and al-Zaytouna; you are able, God willing, through your unity and solidarity, through your attachment to your beloved country and your belief in yourselves, to achieve what we aspire to, and more – to achieve the Tunisian dream, just as you created, through your consensus, the Tunisian exception; and just as you sparked, with your courage and defiance, the flame of the Arab Spring.

It is time for Tunisia’s ship to leave the shore, to sail on its journey towards development and prosperity for all its people.

By God’s grace, we inaugurate this Congress, and we ask God to guide us to choose what is best for our country and our shared future.

Beyond terrorism: Sousse attack, economic development, fair trade, and dignity

Beyond terrorism: Sousse attack, economic development, fair trade, and dignity

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The intent of those who planned and carried out the recent terrorist attack in Tunisia and the reactions to it, both underscore the idiosyncratic connections between economic development and terrorism. Importantly, the attack ought to remind us of the global nature and imperatives, not only of ISIL’s brand of terrorism, but also of economic development. Both problems, terrorism and lack of economic development in the Global South, must be confronted cooperatively, because European countries were indeed involved, directly and indirectly, in creating the kind of conditions that weaken their southern neighbors’ economies, which in turn have created the kind of environment most suitable for terrorism.

Zakaria Hamad

When 30 British citizens vacationing in the city of Sousse, Tunisia, were killed along with three Irish, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese, and one Russian, the Foreign Office ordered all but essential travelers to leave that country immediately. Habib Essid, Tunisia’s Prime Minister, said that his government would help to evacuate approximately 3,000 Britons, but told Tunisia’s parliament that he was “dismayed by the advice from the Foreign Office.” The Tunisian government said the UK “was damaging the country’s economy,” which is heavily reliant on tourism, and may end up inadvertently fueling poverty and therefore terrorism. Oliver Miles, a former UK ambassador to Libya and Greece “found the [UK]’s response puzzling.” Other commentators and international affairs analysts contended that Britain was “wrong to bring tourists home” because it would weaken the only true emerging democracy in that part of the world.

Having just returned from Tunisia, I have had a chance to observe up-close life, the hopeful and fearful aspects of it, in that beautiful country. I have witnessed how ordinary citizens, bureaucrats and government officials, and business leaders are coping with the new reality of citizens’ mandated governance. It is clear that Tunisia deserves support from the global community for moral reasons, and deserves support from NATO countries for legal, political, and economic reasons.

The world community ought to support Tunisia because it is the only country in the region thus far that has managed to transition to representative rule without military coups, civil wars, and violent takeovers. Support for Tunisia means support for peaceful transfer of power, and serves the global community’s stake in political and economic stability.

More specifically, NATO countries have the legal obligation to stand by Tunisia because NATO, and its Gulf allies like Qatar, undermined Tunisian security when they launched the ill-planned bombing campaign against Libya. The two persons who carried out the Bardo and Sousse attacks were trained in Libya. Libyan weapons that were not secured after the fall of the Libyan government are now being used to destabilize Tunisia and other neighboring countries. In other words, NATO broke it, so NATO bought it.

Furthermore, NATO and European countries have a long history of supporting authoritarian regimes in North Africa, including the Tunisian and Libyan dictators. France sent its diplomats to show support for Ben Ali even as he was killing protesters in December 2010. Italy and other European countries paid off Gaddafi so that he could prevent African immigrants from reaching the European continent while continuing to deny his people basic political and economic rights. European countries must atone for their political and economic dealings with oppressive regimes.

European countries must also atone for decades of exploitation and unfair economic practices. Italy, for instance, used to buy Tunisian olive oil in bulk, process it in Italy, and ship it to the global markets as an Italian product. Agricultural, mineral, and other natural Tunisian resources were shipped to Europe for processing adding thousands of job opportunities to Europeans, denying them to Tunisian workers. 

Having considered these facts, let’s consider what Tunisians really want from their northern neighbors. Young Tunisian entrepreneurs and government officials want to be treated fairly and with dignity. They do not want handouts. They do not want loans. They do not want to be dependent on tourism or for European leaders to risk the lives of their citizens to shore up tourism in Tunisia. What they want is for the European leaders to encourage their powerful businesses and rich citizens who made some of their wealth through exploitation of African communities to invest in Tunisia and the Tunisian economy.

For example, in a conversation I had with Zakaria Hamad, Tunisia’s current Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, it became clear that Tunisian leaders want the added value from their country’s products, of which it has been deprived in the past. For instance, instead of shipping raw materials to Europe for processing and sale, the new Tunisian leaders would prefer that Westerners invest in Tunisia by building factories and processing plants, creating thousands of jobs for Tunisians at home and producing quality goods for the global markets at fair prices.

If Europeans genuinely invested in the Tunisian economy, they would limit the flow of migrant workers, help stabilize their neighboring communities, undo years of past exploitative and unfair practices, and receive a healthy return on their investment. In the long run, this change in attitude and practices are the best way forward for Western countries and their southern neighbors. Military interventions, bombing campaigns, and reliance on dictatorial regimes are shortsighted, costly, callous, and destructive. Such acts are moral and legal burden on Western societies and powerful propaganda tools for genocidal terrorists.

Listen to article:

Watch video: Beyond Terrorism

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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. His most recent book, Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, provides a historical and theoretical treatment of rebellious movements and ideas since the rise of Islam. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Will the rulers of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps other GCC, fall and why?

Will the rulers of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps other GCC, fall and why?


Saudi rulers use war on Yemen to remain relevant

The war on Yemen removed the last fig leaf and exposed the tools and advantages the rulers of Saudi Arabia have used for nearly a century to control its population and project power and influence outside the kingdom’s border. The first tool is the strategic alliance with the United States that shielded it from any criticism in international forums and protected it against foreign threats in return for steady flow of cheap energy. The second tool is a brand of interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, which allowed the rulers to enjoy absolute power over the institutions of the state as long as Wahhabism was allowed to use the instruments of the state to project itself as the purest form of Sunni Islam.


Saudi Arabia, despite its abhorrent human rights record enjoyed diplomatic, political, economic, and military cover that shielded it from any criticism or sanctions. In fact, Western countries often referred to Saudi Arabia and the few Arab countries that fell under the direct influence of the kingdom as the axes of moderation. The marginalization of ethnic minorities, diminutive attitudes towards groups belonging to different sects, abuse of foreign laborers, domination of women, selective application of cruel punishments, political corruption, blatant nepotism, and flagrant interference in internal affairs of other countries all went unexposed—beyond the reach of media and even academic scholarship.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia used its wealth-acquired clean image to build religious centers in Western countries and madrasas and mosques in poor Muslim countries and staff these institutions with administrators and imams who were indoctrinated in Wahhabism—albeit under the name of Sunni Islam. In addition to this soft form of proselytizing, the rulers of Saudi Arabia have supplied its global allies with hardened zealots who were ready to fight and die for whatever cause they were able to manufacture. Often times, the interests of Western governments and the ambitions of the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance intersected as was the case in Afghanistan in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In this particular case, Western governments, especially U.S. administrations, embraced the so-called mujahidin and they worked together to counter the real or perceived threats posed by the Soviet Union. The same alliance was revived in Syria in the last four years to counter the real or perceived threats posed by Iran and Russia. Saudi Arabia wanted to use this alliance in Yemen as well but the Obama administration hesitated. There are signs however, that this freakishly strange union between the U.S. and the Saudi-Wahhabi cabal is about to expire.

First, the so-called Arab Spring uprisings has forced Western governments in general, and this U.S. administration in particular, to realize that the business of protecting unpopular regimes has become very risky. The sudden fall of two “moderate” Arab leaders in Tunisia and Egypt almost left Western countries on the wrong side of history. They were forced to retroactively overreact calling these former friends and allies dictators. The breaking of the wall of fear that kept Arab masses under check for so long produced a level of political unpredictability never seen before. The Obama administration reaffirmed this reality when it warned the rulers of GCC that their real threat is from their own people not from outside. In other words, U.S. administrations will no longer protect regimes that do not enjoy a popular mandate. They remain, however, interested in protecting countries, especially the ones with clear commitment to representative governance like Tunisia. This distinction between regimes and countries and lack of commitment to protect specific regimes kept four out of the six rulers of the GCC out of the summit at Camp David. Interestingly, the Obama administration also extended NATO’s protection to Tunisia after it denied it to GCC States.

On May 12, the self-declared caliph and leader of the “Islamic State,” al-Baghdadi, declared the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance nulland void. In a 34 minute long rant, he accused Aal Salul (the group’s diminutive label for the Saudi family) of attempting to regain its standing as the protector of Sunni Muslims by launching “Operation Fancy” in Yemen. He called on Saudi Sunni Muslims not to fall for this trick. He explicitly asked them to rise up against the rulers of the kingdom and join the “Islamic State,” which is, in his determination, the true representative of pure Islam and the real “protector” of Sunni Muslims. The fall of GCC regimes will be internal. Specifically, it will come on the hands of the adherents to the brand of Islam they manufactured over the past eighty years: Wahhabism.

Importantly, al-Baghdadi’s statements confirm what some scholars have been saying about the link between Saudi Arabia and ISIL. Al-Baghdadi reaffirmed that his version of Islam was in fact inspired by the same Islam preached and practiced in Saudi Arabia. The difference, however, is that he and his “Islamic State” are living the true faith and practice, whereas the Saudi ruling family support it only in name and form.

These two important developments, the downgraded Saudi-Western alliance and the rise of the Islamic State as the exemplar of Sunni Islam, are terrifying for the Saudi ruling family. The ruling family’s precious investment in religious extremism—as an ideology—and dependence on Western governments—as a national security strategy—are spent. Wahhabism, the brainchild of the family of Saud, has now outgrown its masters and has established its own political and military entity: the “Islamic State.” Western countries are no longer dependent on Saudi oil. Preserving regimes that are rejected by the peoples they are supposed to represent is now very risky. For the rulers of GCC, as it has become for most Arab rulers, the options are very limited: reform or perish.

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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. His most recent book, Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, provides a historical and theoretical treatment of rebellious movements and ideas since the rise of Islam. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

“This is What the Arab Spring Looks Like”

“This is What the Arab Spring Looks Like”


Tunisia’s transition to representative governance brings hope to Arab Societies


Four days after the fourth anniversary of the spark that ignited the fury of protests widely known as the Arab Spring, Tunisian voters reminded the world about what the Arab Spring is supposed to look like. The election of a new president this week capped four years of hard work that involved politicians and leaders of civil society institutions. In four years, Tunisians elected a constituency assembly primarily tasked with forming a transitional government and writing a new constitution. Those goals, despite many setbacks, were finally achieved. In the past three months, Tunisian voters elected a parliament, narrowed the field of presidential candidates (of more than 24 candidates) during a first round of presidential elections, and finally chose Beji Caid Essebsi, giving him 55% of their vote over the interim president, Mohamed Mouncef Marzouki.


Without doubt, attempts to explain the outcome and meaning of the results of these elections are numerous. Some commentators described the outcome as “buyer’s remorse,” suggesting that the Arab peoples are having second thoughts about the uprisings that overthrew many of the most authoritarian, yet effective, rulers in the region. Other observers contended that the vote in Tunisia, like the one in Egypt, which brought al-Sisi to power, is repudiation to Islamists. Other analysts charged that outside money and influence is behind the counter-revolutionary movements that are repackaging old regimes in order to slow down or undo the radical changes the Arab Spring had set in motion. Indeed, there is some truth in all of these and other theories. However, the constitution that the Tunisian people approved and the process by which they transitioned towards representative governance are remarkably impressive and Tunisians, from all spectrum of social and political life, should celebrate with pride and relief.

Generally, Tunisians have succeeded in keeping outside influence to a minimum. They trusted civil society institutions with mediating political dissent. They supported the interim government in its efforts to isolate violent elements who want to impose their genocidal agenda. In the end, thanks to the people’s sacrifices and commitment to non-violence, Tunisia emerged victorious in many areas. It stands proudly free from the Gulf States’ money-driven half-solutions that stalled progress in Yemen. Tunisians avoided the power grab and political opportunism like the ones that took place in Egypt. And above all, Tunisians succeeded in deliberately silencing the genocidal groups who use knives and guns to slaughter their way to power as is the case in Libya and Syria. 
Tunisians reaffirmed their commitment to the initial cry for dignity.

Importantly, Tunisians have reminded those who claim sole ownership of the revolution for themselves that the uprising was not about replacing one authoritarian regime with another or rewarding a political party over another. By voting for Nida Tunis (and its leader), which has roots in the old bureaucracy, and offering Ennahdha a significant number of seats in the new parliament, Tunisian voters seem to declare that they hold no indiscriminate prejudice against all and anyone who worked or might have worked with or for the old regime. They simply have a problem with incompetence, corruption, cronyism, and abuse of human dignity.

Today, Nida Tunis, the coalition of political parties and civil society entities’ representative that was created as a counterweight to the post-revolution ruling collation, is celebrating; just as did Ennahdha and its allies three years ago. Nida Tunis and its allies should remember that the people, now, have a say in who governs and for how long. More importantly, they should remain mindful not only of the interest of the 55% of the people who voted for them, but also of the concerns of the 45% of Tunisians who voted for Marzouki and the 66% (3.5 million people) of all registered voters who did not vote at all or voted for Marzouki—not for their candidate, Essabsi. Regardless, the 36% of the all registered voters who actually voted for him did not nostalgically vote to bring back the neo-Bourguibists, they voted out those who failed, in their judgment, to govern… again.

The world community should do more than congratulate the Tunisian people and their newly elected officials. They should support them economically, politically, and morally without any strings attached. Indeed, the Tunisian model for transitioning towards representative governance is the most convincing rebuttal to genocidal groups who believe in nothing but their own narrow worldview and tolerate none but themselves.
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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. His most recent book, Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, provides a historical and theoretical treatment of rebellious movements and ideas since the rise of Islam. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?

How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?


How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?

The two countries transformed first by the Arab Spring now have new constitutions. The two countries are similar in many ways. Yet, the processes of producing their respective constitutions and the substance of each document point to the forces that made these legal documents similar in some areas and different in others. In both cases, it took more than two years to reach this point, underscoring the difficulty the drafters of the two documents have faced.

Notably, the Tunisian constitution was drafted by an elected body (Constitutional Assembly), whereas the current version of the Egyptian constitution was “edited” by an appointed committee after the deposition of the post-revolution (elected) president Mohamed Morsi. The Egyptian constitution, however, was endorsed by Egyptian voters, while the Tunisian constitution was adopted once it was endorsed by the majority of the members of the Constitutional Assembly.


Another distinction is the substantive organization of the two documents. The Egyptian constitution is organized conceptually, dealing with matters of the state, society, economy, culture, rights and responsibilities, rule of law, and then governing institutions. The Tunisian constitution’s organization is rooted in institutional functions. That is, the framers of the constitution first defined the foundational principles (al-mabadi’ al-`ammah) that ought to guide the work of state institutions and the rights and freedoms (al-huquq wa-‘l-hurriyyat) that must be protected and managed by the state.  The Tunisian 39-page document is decided by this conceptualization of the function of governing institutions, while the 64-page document produced by the 50-member constitutional committee is a statement about the critical areas of public interest (muqawwimat al-mujtama`) and then a declaration about the role of power and authority institutions (al-sulutat) in managing these areas.

The organizational difference resulted in different areas of emphasis and state functions. The public interest focus adopted by the framers of the Egyptian constitution led to a strengthened role of the state and a diminished space devoted to civil society institutions. The drafters of the Tunisian constitution seemed more interested in limiting the power of the state and the separation of its branches.

Below, a brief summary of key statements about controversial areas as addressed in the Constitution of Tunisia and the Constitution of Egypt.
Constitution of Tunisia
Constitution of Egypt
System of Governance:
Islamic, Arab, Republic (1 & 2)
Islamic, Arab, Democratic Republic (1)
Shari`ah:
No explicit statement about Shari`ah.
The principles of the Shari`ah are the main source of legislation (1, 2 & 3).
State and Religion:
State is civil institution; state is the overseer of religious affairs, protector of religious freedom and thought; state ensures that places of worship are not used for partisan purposes. State shall prohibit and prevent takfīr and enticing hate (2 &6).
No explicit mention of the “civil” nature of the state; the state shall fund al-Azhar, which is said to be an independent institution tasked with Islamic religious affairs; Christians and Jews rely on their respective traditions to manage personal status laws and choose their spiritual leaders (2, 3, &7).
Citizenship:
Citizenship, which is acquired through birth or affiliation laws and redefined by the legislature; citizenship cannot be revoked.
Anyone born to an Egyptian father or mother is entitled to citizenship (6).
Women rights:
State guarantees the rights of women to equality in all areas, including their being represented in election-based positions (21, 40, & 46).
State guarantees the rights of women to equality in all areas (11).
Military:
The President is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Members of the armed forces are politically neutral, barred from all partisan and political activities.
The President is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The Defense Minister is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.
Human dignity
Dignity is protected; torture is prohibited.
Dignity is protected; torture is prohibited.
Branches of Government:
Parliament whose members are elected directly by the people
Parliament whose members are elected directly by the people.
President elected for five years; can run for only one more term (75).
President elected for four years; can run for only one more term (140).
Head of government is from the party or coalition that wins the majority of the seats in the parliament.
The president names the head of government, if the government is not endorsed by the parliament, then the party or coalition that won the majority of the seats in the parliament will name the head of the government; if not endorsed again, the president shall dissolve the parliament.
Judiciary:
The judiciary is independent authority; the institution is managed by the Supreme Council on Judicial Affairs, consisting of four committees, which are staffed mostly by elected judges.
The legislature is independent authority; most judges are appointed by the president.
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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. His most recent book, Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, provides a historical and theoretical treatment of rebellious movements and ideas since the rise of Islam. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, perhaps learning from the crises of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and AKP in Turkey, compromises to remain relevant

Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, perhaps learning from the crises of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and AKP in Turkey, compromises to remain relevant


On January 14, Tunisians will celebrate their revolution, which ignited a wave of protest that swept most of the Arab world. For this third anniversary, the Salvation Front, representing key leaders from political parties and civil society, gave the Tunisian people and the Arab masses a set of rare gifts: another peaceful transfer of power, a new constitution that protects the life and dignity of all Tunisians, and roadmap to a stable future.


Ennahda, the party that won the first post-revolution elections in Tunisia, handed over power to a non-partisan government last week so that it would remain relevant. This decision was the only path that could allow Ennahda to maintain its edge in the coming elections and avert disastrous outcomes similar to those experienced by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the likely diminished power of AKP in Turkey. Importantly, the resignation fosters a promising culture of peaceful transfer of power–a first in the Arab world. Before stepping down, however, Ennahda’s leaders–working with leaders from two secular-leaning political parties, al-Mu’tamar and al-Takattul–managed to reduce the level of violence in the country, stabilize the economy, draft a new constitution, and set the course for a transition to a permanent government though the ballet, not the bullet.

It should be noted, however, that Ennahda did not voluntarily cede power. It took several political crises, many strikes and low-level uprisings, two assassinations of key opposition figures, and active participation of key civil society institutions (notably labor unions and NGOs) for Ennahda and its allies to give in to public pressure. Additionally, the troika (Ennahda, al-Mu’tamar, and al-Takattul) spent too much time drafting the constitution, which is crucial for holding elections that would move the country past the transition phase.

Nonetheless, Ennahda should be given credit for its willingness to be inclusive, for compromising to preserve the dignity of all Tunisians, and for enshrining social justice norms in the new constitution. For instance, while leaders of the movement insisted that Islam be privileged, they nonetheless accepted the codification of the civil state, the supremacy of the rule of law, and the proscription on takfir (branding dissenters infidels or non-believers). The new constitution, drafted under their watch, explicitly protects women as equal citizens, codifies women’s equal participation in public and political life, and highlights the abhorrence of violence against women.

Senior Ennahda leaders have always favored a parliamentarian system of governance, but they signed off on a constitution that defines Tunisia as being a republic: where the president is the top executive, where the people (not some interpretation of religious texts) has the ultimate authority, and where representatives of the people share governing responsibilities with the president. The new constitution emphasizes the principle of separation of powers, sets an absolute term limit for holding the presidency, and establishes a judicial system that is both independent and reflective of the will of the people (the composition of the constitutional court is determined by both the executive and the legislature branches).

In short, the new constitution lays the foundation for a pluralistic system that could empower all Tunisians and end the era of authoritarianism. Ennahda’s relative flexibility and willingness to step away from power at this juncture might be the only and best opportunity for the movement to avoid the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood and preserve public support, which it will need in the critically important elections ahead.

Of course, like any other constitution, Tunisia’s new constitution is not perfect. For instance, the language associated with the first two articles, the most important and most controversial in entire document, seems to confuse two critical concepts: nation and state. That problem could be avoided if the first and second articles are interpreted like so: (1) Tunisia is a free nation (watan/ummah; not dawlah), independent, sovereign, Islam is its national religion, Arabic is its national language, and republicanism is its form of governance; (2) the Tunisian state is civil, founded on citizenship, the will of the people, and the supremacy of the law.

The distinction between state and nation would rectify some of the misconceptions about the place of religion in society and in state institutions. Many Western interpreters of Arab constitutions contend that Islam is codified as the “state” religion. The language and use of the term “dawlah” perpetuates that misunderstanding, which if taken to be true, would make Article 1 and Article 2 contradictory: how can an Islamic state also be a civil state and treat all citizens—Muslims and non-Muslims—equally?

Distinguishing between state and nation means that there is no contradiction in holding that Islam is the religion of the country/nation (given that the majority are indeed Muslim), but the state with all its governing institutions is civil and treats all citizens equally regardless of religious affiliation. This interpretation would soften any harmful interpretations of Article 6, which states that “the state looks after (ra`yah) religion, fosters freedom of belief and conscience and the practice of religious rites, protects the sacred, and guarantees the status of mosques and places of worship as neutral space–free from partisan politics.” It would also make sure that the state does not define orthodoxy or discriminate on sectarian or religious grounds. However, failure to distinguish between making Islam the national religion and making Islam the state religion could empower the government to determine orthodoxy and use that authority to suppress freedom of thought and expression. The state can conceivably privilege a particular religion as part of collective national identity without harm, but that privilege must be balanced by strong safeguards for freedom of thought and expression.

The amendment clauses, too, are ambiguous and leave room for an interpretation that could create two separate paths for amending the constitution. Specifically, it seems that amendments could either pass through the parliament or occur by popular referendum. If the latter, the president could put an amendment directly to the voters and then ask the parliament to approve it by a simple majority, whereas an amendment originating in parliament would require a two-thirds majority. It is not clear whether these different thresholds are the intended result, or whether these clauses represent a poorly-considered balance of power that could result in careless amendments to this foundational document.

These are decisive times for Tunisia. Once again, the people and their representatives have a chance to prove that the Arab Spring was not a fluke, that non-violence is the only constructive path for social change, that Islam is compatible with representative governance, and that authoritarianism is not the only guarantor of security and stability. Tunisians can provide a hopeful model for Arab societies that is worthy of the Arab peoples’ past sacrifices and honors those who struggled for social justice and suffered torture, exile, imprisonment, and death.

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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. His most recent book, Anatomy of Dissent in Islamic Societies, provides a historical and theoretical treatment of rebellious movements and ideas since the rise of Islam. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

English Translation of the Tunisian Draft Constitution (post revolution)

English Translation of the Tunisian Draft Constitution (post revolution)

The Tunisian National Constituent Assembly issued a draft constitution on Dec. 14, 2012. Civil society representatives in six of Tunisia’s 24 municipalities met with assembly members to discuss the text later that month. The National Constituent Assembly launched the initiative with the United Nations to “enhance citizens’ participation in the debate.” The following is a non-official English translation of the draft constitution by the United Nations Development Programme project in Tunisia.
The June 1, 2013 Draft Constitution (Arabic; view online) is also available in PDF format. Approved Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia of January 26, 2014.
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In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate


We, the representatives of the Tunisian people, members of the National Constituent Assembly, and electees of the revolution of dignity, freedom and justice:

Taking pride in the struggles of our people; in response to the objectives of the revolution that has crowned a battle for liberalisation from colonisation and tyranny and achieved victory for the free will of the people; out of loyalty towards the martyrs and the sacrifices made by successive generations; with a view to putting an end to injustice, corruption and oppression.

Building on the fundamentals of Islam and its open and moderate objectives, on the sublime human values and on the principles of human rights; inspired by the civilisation of the Tunisian people over the various epochs of history; emanating from their reformist movement based on their Islamic-Arab identity and on universal civilisational accomplishments; adhering to the national accomplishments achieved.

With a view to building a participatory, democratic, republican regime for a civil state that is based on institutions, where power belongs in the hands of the people on the basis of the peaceful alteration of rule through free elections, and on the principle of separation and balance of powers; where the right to govern is based on plurality, administrative impartiality and good governance representing the basis of the political race; and where the system of rule is governed by respect for human rights and freedoms, sovereignty of the law, independence of the judiciary, prevalence of justice and equality in rights and obligations among all citizens, males and females alike, and among all groups and regions.

Recognising the dignified status of mankind; in line with the cultural and civilisational affiliation to the Arab- Islamic Ummah on the basis of national unity built on statehood, brotherhood and social solidarity; with a view to attaining the Maghreb unity as a step towards achieving an Arab unity, integrating fully with the Muslim and African peoples, and cooperating with the peoples of the world; achieving victory for the oppressed; recognizing the people’s right to self-determination; recognising all rightful movements for liberation, with special emphasis on the Palestinian Liberation Movement.

Supporting the will of the people to be a maker of their own history, while believing in work as a sublime human value, seeking leadership, opting to contribute to civilisation by caring for the environment in such a manner that guarantees a safe sustainable life and better tomorrow for future generations, on the basis of peace, human solidarity and independence of the national decision.

We, in the name of the people, draft the following Constitution.

Chapter 1 – General Provisions
Article (1)
Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state. Its religion is Islam, its language is Arabic and its form of government is a republic.

Article (2)
The flag of the Republic of Tunisia, in accordance with the provisions defined by law, is red and bears in its midst a white circle in which is inscribed a five-pointed red star surrounded by a red crescent.

The national anthem of the Republic of Tunisia, in accordance with the provisions defined by law, is Himat Al-Hima (Defenders of the Homeland).

The motto of the nation is: Freedom, Dignity, Justice and Order.

Article (3)
All powers shall be vested in the people of Tunisia. The powers shall be exercised via representatives elected by the people by means of free elections and referenda.

Article (4)
The state shall be the patron of religion, the guarantor of freedom of belief and practice of religious rites, the protector of religious sanctuaries and the assurer of the neutrality of houses of worship from partisan propaganda.

Article (5)
All citizens, males and females alike, shall have equal rights and obligations and shall be equal before the law, without discrimination of any kind.

Article (6)
The state shall, to all citizens, guarantee individual and normal rights and shall furnish means to the good livelihood thereof.

Article (7)
The state shall guarantee the protection of the rights of women and shall support the gains thereof.

Article (8)
The state shall protect family structures and maintain the coherence thereof.

Article (9)
The state shall guarantee the protection of the rights of children and persons with special needs.

Article (10)
The national army is a republican, politically-neutral institution that shall defend the nation and the independence, unity and land thereof. The army shall contribute to all efforts exerted in the areas of relief and development, and shall support the civil authorities in accordance with the provisions stipulated under the Emergency Law.

Article (11)
Citizens shall maintain the unity of the nation, defend the sanctity thereof, and comply with the law.

Article (12)
National Service shall be obligatory for citizens in accordance with the provisions and terms of the law.

Article (13)
Decentralisation shall be the basis of local administrative organisations while maintaining the unity of the state.

Article (14)
The public administration shall serve citizens and the public interest, and shall be organized and shall work in accordance with the principles of impartiality and equality, and the rules of transparency, integrity and efficacy.

Article (15)
Peace, based on justice, shall be the basis of relations with other countries and peoples. International treaties shall, where no contradiction with the provisions of the present Constitution exists, be respected.

Chapter 2 – Rights and Freedoms

Article (16)
The right to life is on the top of the rights that shall not be prejudiced unless provided for by the law.

Article (17)
The state shall guarantee the physical and moral sanctity of the human self and shall prevent all forms of physical and/or moral torture.

No crime of torture shall be subject to the statute of limitations and no person having ordered or perpetrated such crime shall be exempted from the responsibility.

Article (18)
The state shall guarantee the sanctity of the right to live a private life, exchange confidential correspondences, enjoy the sanctity of domiciles, and protect personal data.

All citizens shall have the right to choose a place of residence and move freely within the nation, as well as the right to leave the country.

Such freedoms may not be restricted unless under extreme circumstances provided for by law and backed with a judicial order, except in flagrante delicto.

Article (19)
The state shall not revoke the nationality of, extradite, expatriate and/or deny repatriation of any Tunisian citizen.

Article (20)
A defendant shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty by virtue of a fair trial that offers the accused all the guarantees of defence during all the phases of trial.

Article (21)
Punishments shall be personal and shall not be executed unless by virtue of a legal provision issued prior to the occurrence of the punishable act, except in the case of a more favourable provision.

Article (22)
No person may be arrested unless in flagrante delicto or by virtue of a judicial order. The person placed under arrest shall immediately be read the rights thereof and shall be informed of the relevant charges. The person may request the services of a lawyer. The term of arrest shall be defined by law.

Article (23)
The state shall protect the right of those deprived of freedom to be treated humanely in a way that preserves their dignity. In execution of a punishment, the state shall take into consideration the interests of the relevant family and shall guarantee the rehabilitation of the detainee and the containment thereof into society.

Article (24)
The state shall guarantee the freedom to establish parties, syndicates and associations.
In their formation, the parties, syndicates and associations shall respect the legal procedures without prejudice to the very essence of this freedom.

The statues and activities of parties, syndicates and associations shall be governed by the provisions of the Constitution and the general principles thereof, and financial transparency.

Article (25)
The right to peaceful assembly and demonstration shall be guaranteed. This right shall be practiced according to the procedures provided for by law without prejudice to the very essence of this right.

Article (26)
Every citizen is entitled to work. The state shall exert all effort to ensure the availability of work in a suitable and fair environment.

Article (27)
The right to establish syndicates, as well as the right to stage strikes, shall be guaranteed provided the life, health and safety of individuals are not in jeopardy.

Article (28)
Each person shall have the right to access information without prejudice to national security and/or the rights stipulated under the present Constitution.

Article (29)
The state shall guarantee the right of all persons to all stages of education, free of charge. Education shall be compulsory until the age of no less than sixteen years.

Article (30)
Academic freedoms and freedom of scientific research shall be guaranteed.
The state shall furnish all means necessary for the advancement of academic work and scientific research.

Article (31)
Health shall be a fundamental right to all persons.

Prevention from diseases and provision of health care shall be guaranteed by the state to all citizens without discrimination.

Free health treatment shall be guaranteed by the state to underprivileged persons.

Article (32)
The state shall guarantee the right of every person to social coverage, including social security, as provided for by law.

Article (33)
Each person shall have the right to live in a peaceful and balanced environment and shall be entitled to sustainable development.

Protection of environment and wise utilisation of natural resources shall be the responsibility of the state, institutions and people.

Article (34)
Every person shall have the right to water.
The state shall protect water resources and rationalise the use thereof and distribute them fairly.

Article (35)
All persons shall pay taxes and contribute to public expenditures based on a fair and just tax system.
The state shall develop mechanisms suitable for the extraction of public funds and for the optimal use of such funds as well as mechanisms to fight against corruption and tax evasion.

Article (36)
Freedoms of opinion, expression, media and creativity shall be guaranteed.

Freedom of the media and of publication may not be restricted unless by virtue of a law protecting the rights, reputation, safety and health of others.

Such freedoms shall, under no circumstance, be subject to prior censorship.
Intellectual and literary property rights shall be guaranteed.

Article (37)
The state shall guarantee the provision of equal opportunities between men and women in the bearing of various responsibilities.

The state shall guarantee the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

Article (38)
The right to ownership shall be guaranteed and shall be exercised within the limits of the law.

Article (39)
The state shall protect persons with special needs against any form of discrimination.

All persons with special needs are, in accordance with the nature of the disability thereof, entitled to benefit from all measures guaranteeing their full integration into society. The state shall undertake all procedures necessary to achieve this purpose.

Article (40)
Children are entitled to dignity, care, rearing, education and health from the parents thereof.
The state shall provide legal, social, physical and moral protection for all children.

Article (41)
The state shall guarantee the right to culture for all citizens.

The state shall encourage cultural creativity and support national culture in its diversity and renovation in a way that entrenches the values of tolerance, non-violence, openness towards various cultures and dialogue between civilisations.

The state shall protect the cultural heritage and guarantee the right of future generations thereto.

Article (42)
The state shall seek to make available the facilities necessary for the exercise of athletic and physical activities as well as furnish various means of entertainment and tourism.

Article (43)
The right to run for elections and candidacy is guaranteed in accordance with the provisions defined by law and without prejudice to the very essence of such right.

Chapter 3 – Legislative Power
Article (44)
The legislative power shall be vested in the people through the representatives thereof in the Chamber of Deputies or by means of referenda.

Article (45)
Members of the Chamber of Deputies shall be elected under a system of universal, free, direct and secret elections in accordance with the terms stipulated under the Elections Law.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version: Members of the Chamber of Deputies shall be elected under a system of universal, free, direct and secret elections in accordance with the Elections Law.

Article (46)
Any Tunisian citizen no younger than eighteen years of age and meeting the terms stipulated under the Elections Law shall be deemed eligible to vote.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To changing the Arabic word “thamania” to “thamani” (eighteen in English).

Article (47)
Any person born to a Tunisian father or a Tunisian mother, no younger than twenty three years of age on the day of nomination, and not in any way denied the right to run for elections is entitled to run for membership of the Chamber of Deputies.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version: Any person holding the Tunisian nationality for more than five years and no younger than twenty three years of age on the day of nomination, provided that he is not denied, in any way stipulated by law, the right to run for elections is entitled to run for membership of the Chamber of Deputies.

Article (48)
Elections of the Chamber of Deputies shall, for a five-year period, be held during the last sixty days of the term of mandate thereof.

In the event of failure to hold the elections as a result of war or an imminent danger, the mandates of the Chamber shall, by a law, be extended.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version: The Chamber of Deputies shall be elected for a five-year period during the last sixty days of the term of mandate thereof.
In the event of failure to hold the elections as a result of war or an imminent danger, the mandates of the Chamber shall, by a law, be extended.

Article (49)
The headquarters of the Chamber of Deputies shall be located in Tunis and the suburbs thereof. In the event of exceptional circumstances, the Chamber may hold the sessions thereof in any other place on Tunisian land.

Article (50)
All members of the Chamber of Deputies shall, prior to assuming the functions thereof, swear in the following oath:
“I do solemnly swear that I will work diligently to serve the nation, that I will abide by the provisions of the Constitution, and that I will bear full allegiance to Tunisia.”

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To consider the possibility of changing the preposition “prior to” to “upon”.

Article (51)
Each representative of the Chamber of Deputies shall be deemed a representative of all people of the nation.
The state shall, for each representative of the Chamber, furnish the human and physical resources necessary for the representative to carry out the functions thereof adequately.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change the word “representative” to “member” in the first paragraph.
To consider moving the second paragraph to Article (28).

Article (52)
The Chamber of Deputies shall, within the framework of the State Budget, enjoy independency at the administrative and financial levels.

The Chamber of Deputies shall make its statute and ratify it by an absolute majority of the members of the Chamber.

Article (53)
No member of the Chamber of Deputies may be prosecuted at a civil or criminal level, arrested or tried for opinions or proposals suggested and/or for the work performed thereby in connection with the performance of the functions thereof.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change the adverb “in connection with” to “because of.”

Article (54)
No member of the Chamber of Deputies may, during the term of office thereof, be prosecuted or arrested for any crime or misdemeanour unless the member no longer enjoys immunity.

In the event of flagrante delicto, the member may be arrested and the Chamber of Deputies shall be notified promptly on the proviso that the member be released if the Chamber so requests. During its recess, the Chamber of Deputies is replaced by its Bureau.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version: If the member hangs on to his immunity, he may not be prosecuted or arrested, during the term of office thereof, unless the Chamber has lifted the immunity thereof. In the event of flagrante delicto, the member may be arrested and the Chamber of Deputies shall be notified promptly on the proviso that the member be released if the Bureau of the Chamber so requests.

Article (55)
First Wording:
Organic and normal draft laws shall be presented by no less than ten members of the Chamber of Deputies or by the government. The government shall have jurisdiction over the presentation of draft laws related to the ratification of treaties and of the Finance Act ratified by the Chamber by no later than 31 December of every year. In the event of failure to ratify the Finance Act by the due date, the Prime Minister shall enter the provisions thereof into force in instalments renewable on a quarterly basis.

The Bureau of the Chamber of Deputies shall define the priority of cognisance over draft laws.
The members of the Chamber shall exercise the full powers thereof in the introduction of amendments to the draft laws without prejudice to the financial budgets of the state set under the Finance Act.
One-tenth of the electorates registered on the election rosters may present to the Chamber of Deputies a draft law divided into chapters.

One-sixth of the electorates registered on the election rosters may present a draft law divided into chapters and request that such be proposed for referendum.

The draft law shall be presented to the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies who shall in turn present such to the Constitutional Court.If the Constitutional Court approves the draft law, the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall, as the case may be, submit the law to the Chamber or refer the law to the President of the Republic with a view to calling for a referendum.

The Chamber of Deputies may not introduce any amendment to the draft law. The law shall be voted on in accordance with the majority of votes required to be cast for the subject matter thereof. The draft law shall have an absolute priority of cognisance over other draft laws presented by the government or members of the Chamber of Deputies.

If the Constitutional Court establishes the unconstitutionality of the draft law, the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall return the law to the proposing entity. No amended version of the draft law may be resubmitted unless the necessary number of signatures is once again established.

Normal laws shall not be subject to deliberation during the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies unless after the elapse of a fifteen-day period as from the date of being studied by the competent parliamentary committee.
Such period shall be extended to twenty days with respect to organic laws.

Second Wording:
The President of the Republic, as well as no less than five percent (5%) of the members of the Chamber of Deputies, shall have the right to initiate draft laws and submit such to the Chamber.
Any draft law submitted by the President shall have priority.
The present rules shall apply to all amendments introduced to draft laws.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To divide this article as follows:

Article
Legislative initiative shall be practiced by no less than five percent (5%) of the members of the Chamber of Deputies or by the government. The government shall have jurisdiction over the presentation of draft laws related to the ratification of treaties and of the finance draft laws. Any draft law submitted by the government shall have priority.
Recommendation: To consider the possibility of vesting the power of legislative initiative in the President of the Republic as being a controversial point.

Article
The proposed laws or amendments presented by the members of the Chamber shall not be admitted in the event that the ratification thereof may cause prejudice to the financial budgets of the state.

Article
One-tenth of the electorates registered on the election rosters may present to the Chamber of Deputies a draft law.
One-sixth of the electorates registered on the election rosters may present a draft law and request that such be proposed for referendum.

The draft law shall be presented to the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies who shall in turn present such to the Constitutional Court.

If the Constitutional Court approves the draft law, the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall, as the case may be, submit the law to the Chamber or refer the law to the President of the Republic with a view to calling for a referendum.

The Chamber of Deputies may not introduce any amendment to the draft law. The law shall be voted on in accordance with the majority of votes required to be cast for the subject matter thereof.

If the Constitutional Court establishes the unconstitutionality of the draft law, the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall return the law to the proposing entity. No amended version of the draft law may be resubmitted unless the necessary number of signatures is once again established.

Recommendation: The committee may discuss controls for popular initiatives, such as consideration of the financial budgets of the state. The committee may also refer the draft law proposers to the different authorities to see whether it is better to give such the priority of cognisance or not, or fix a deadline for presenting it in the plenary session and refer it to the law for regulating the details of requisites.

The last paragraph may be moved to Article (64) or approved of as a separate article to be inserted after Article (64).

Article (56)
First Wording
The Chamber of Deputies may, for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose, authorise the Prime Minister to issue decrees in the field of law and submit such for ratification by the Chamber upon the elapse of the specified period of time.

Ten members of the Chamber of Deputies may submit the matter to the Constitutional Court if found that the period of time or the purpose prejudice the principle of separation of powers.

Second Wording
The Chamber of Deputies may, for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose, authorise the President of the Republic to issue decrees in the field of law, with the exception of Chapter I of the Constitution, and submit such for ratification by the Chamber upon the elapse of the specified period of time.

Ten members of the Chamber of Deputies may submit the matter to the Constitutional Court if found that the period of time or the purpose prejudice the principle of separation of powers.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Recommendation: To delete this

Article (57)
The Chamber of Deputies shall, by an absolute majority of the members thereof, ratify organic laws and shall, by an absolute majority of the attending members, ratify normal laws on the proviso that such majority is no less than one-third of the members of the Chamber.
No draft organic law shall be presented to the Chamber of Deputies for deliberation unless upon the elapse of a fifteen-day period as from the date of referral to the competent parliamentary committee.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
This article should be deleted as the first paragraph therein is included in Article (40) and the second paragraph is included in the last paragraph of Article (31) after the review thereof.

Article (58)
First Wording
The Chamber of Deputies shall ratify the draft laws of the budget in accordance with the terms stipulated under the organic Budget Law.

The ratification process of the budget shall occur by no later than 31 December. If the due date elapses and the Chamber has not come to a resolution, the draft laws of the budget may, by virtue of an order, be enforced in instalments renewable on a quarterly basis.

Second Wording
The Chamber of Deputies shall ratify the draft laws of the budget in accordance with the terms stipulated under the organic Budget Law.

The ratification process of the budget shall occur by no later than 31 December. If the due date elapses and the Chamber has not come to a resolution, the draft laws of the budget may, by virtue of a presidential decree, be enforced in instalments renewable on a quarterly basis.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version:
The law shall authorise state resources and expenditures in accordance with the terms stipulated under the organic Budget Law.

The Chamber of Deputies shall ratify the draft laws of the budget and the closure thereof in accordance with the terms stipulated under the organic Budget Law.

The ratification process of the draft law of budget shall occur by no later than 31 December. If such process does not take place within the specified term, the draft law may, by virtue of an order, be enforced in instalments renewable on a quarterly basis.

Recommendation: To add in Article (64) for the normal laws: Budget Law and Budget Closure Law.

Article (59)
The Chamber of Deputies shall hold an ordinary session, each year, starting as from the month of October and ending during the month of July, provided that the first session of the mandate of the Chamber starts during the fifteen-day period following the announcement of the final results of the elections.

In the event that the beginning of the first session of the mandate of the Chamber of Deputies coincides with the recess thereof, a session shall be opened for a fifteen-day period.

The Chamber of Deputies shall, during the period of recess thereof, hold an extraordinary session upon the request of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or one-third of the members with a view to looking into a specific agenda.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version:
The Chamber of Deputies shall hold an ordinary session, each year, starting as from the month of October and ending during the month of July, provided that the first session of the mandate of the Chamber starts during the fifteen-day period following the announcement of the final results of the elections upon an invitation from the Chair of the previous Chamber.

In the event that the beginning of the first session of the mandate of the Chamber of Deputies coincides with the recess thereof, an extraordinary session shall be opened for a fifteen-day period.

The Chamber of Deputies shall, during the period of recess thereof, hold an extraordinary session upon the request of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or one-third of the members with a view to looking into a specific agenda.

Article (60)
The process of voting in the Chamber of Deputies shall be done in person and may not be delegated.

The Chamber of Deputies shall, from amongst the members thereof, elect a Chair as well as elect standing committees to work uninterruptedly even during the period of recess of the Chamber.

The Chamber may establish special fact-finding committees independent from all authorities that should help such committees in undertaking the tasks thereof.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Putting the first paragraph in a separate article:
The process of voting in the Chamber of Deputies shall be done in person and may not be delegated.

Amending the wording of the second and third paragraphs to form a new article as follows:
The Chamber of Deputies shall, in the first session thereof, elect a Chair from amongst the members thereof.
The Chamber of Deputies may establish committees, including interim fact-finding committees that all authorities should help in undertaking the tasks thereof.

Article (61)
First Wording
In the event of the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies or the impossibility of holding the sessions thereof, the Prime Minister may issue decrees to be submitted for ratification by the Chamber during the subsequent ordinary session thereof.

Second Wording
The President of the Republic may, during the period of recess of the Chamber of Deputies, issue decrees to be submitted for ratification by the Chamber during the subsequent ordinary session thereof.

The President of the Republic may also issue decrees in the event of the dissolution of the Chamber or the impossibility of holding the sessions thereof.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version:
In the event of the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, the impossibility of holding the sessions thereof or during the period of recess thereof, the Prime Minister may issue decrees to be submitted for ratification by the Chamber during the subsequent ordinary session thereof.

N.B.: In the event it is agreed to entrust this power to the President of the Republic, changes shall be made without touching the remaining text.

Article (62)
The President of the Republic shall ratify all treaties and may permit the publication thereof.

Treaties related to the borders of the country, to international organisation and to the financial obligations of the country as well as treaties containing provisions of legislative nature or related to the status of individuals may not be ratified unless approved by the Chamber of Deputies.

Treaties shall not be deemed enforced unless upon the ratification thereof.

Treaties ratified by the President of the Republic and approved by the Chamber of Deputies shall be deemed more powerful than laws.

The Constitutional Court shall ensure that treaties are in conformity with the Constitution and that laws are in conformity with treaties.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete the last paragraph as it is contained in the Judiciary Chapter.
To amend the wording as follows:
“The President of the Republic shall ratify all treaties, except for those entrusted to the Prime Minister or its parties.
The ratification process shall be preceded by the approval of the Chamber of Deputies in the event that treaties relate to the international organisation, to the borders of the country, to the financial obligations of the country or to the status of individuals. Such treaties shall be published and shall be deemed more powerful than laws.
Treaties shall not be deemed enforced unless upon the ratification thereof, while considering the principle of reciprocity.”

N.B.: In the event it is agreed to entrust this power to the Prime Minister, changes shall be made without touching the remaining text.

Article (63)
The Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall notify the President of the Republic of any draft law ratified by the Chamber and shall refer the law to the President for sealing. The text of the ratified draft law as well as any pertinent documents shall be attached to the notification sent to the President.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version: The Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall notify the President of the Republic of any ratified draft law and shall refer the law, along with any pertinent documents, to the President for sealing.

Article (64)
The Chamber of Deputies shall, with the majority of attending members, vote on normal draft laws and on the statute of the Chamber on the proviso that the majority of votes is no less than one-third of the members. The Chamber of Deputies shall, with the majority of members, also vote on organic draft laws.

Provisions related to the following aspects shall be deemed organic laws:
– Ratification of treaties, with the exception of treaties entrusted to the President of the Republic.
– Organisation of justice and the judiciary.
– Organisation of the media, press and publications.
– Organisation and funding of parties, associations, organisations and professional bodies.
– Organisation of the national army, with the exception of any special, fundamental organisational matter issued by virtue of a presidential decree.
– Organisation of the internal security forces, with the exception of any special, fundamental organisational matter issued by virtue of an order.
– Election systems.
– Freedoms, human rights, the right to employment and the right to form syndicates.
– Personal affairs.
– Fundamental duties of citizens.
– The local government.

Provisions related to the following aspects shall be deemed normal laws:
– Application of the Constitution.
– Classification of public institutions and enterprises.
– Nationality and obligations.
– Procedures taken before various types of courts.
– Containment of felonies and misdemeanours and the punishments applicable thereto, in addition to criminal offences if necessitating a freedom-depriving punishment.
– Legislative amnesty.
– Regulation of the payment basis, the percentage and the procedures for extraction thereof, unless authority to such end is given to the Prime Minister by virtue of financial or collection laws.
– The system of issuance of the currency.
– Loans and financial obligations of the state.
– Basic guarantees given to civil and military employees.
– Organisation of the ratification of international treaties.

The law shall specify the fundamental principles of the following:
– The system of ownership and in kind rights.
– Education, scientific research and culture.
– Public health, the environment, land and urban planning and energy.
– The Labour Law and social security.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
The last paragraph of Article (55) stating:
Normal laws shall not be subject to deliberation during the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies unless after the elapse of a fifteen-day period as from the date of being studied by the competent parliamentary committee.
Such period shall be extended to twenty days with respect to organic laws.

Proposition: To reorder and amend the contents of Article (64) as follows:
First Article:
Provisions related to the following aspects shall be deemed laws:
√ Ratification of treaties.
√ Organisation of justice and the judiciary.
√ Organisation of the media, press and publications.
√ Organisation and funding of parties, associations, organisations and professional bodies.
√ Organisation of the national army.
√ Organisation of the internal security forces and customs department.
√ Election systems.
√ Freedoms and human rights.
√ Personal affairs.
√ Fundamental duties of citizens.
√ The local government.
√ Organisation of constitutional agencies.
√ Classification of public institutions and enterprises, as well as provisions regulating sales thereof.
√ Nationality.
√ Obligations.
√ Procedures taken before various types of courts.
√ Containment of felonies and misdemeanours and the punishments applicable thereto, in addition to criminal offences if necessitating a freedom-depriving punishment.
√ Amnesty.
√ Regulation of the payment basis, the percentage and the procedures for extraction thereof, unless authority to such end is given to the Prime Minister by virtue of financial or collection laws.
√ The system of issuance of the currency.
√ Loans and financial obligations of the state.
√ Basic guarantees given to civil and military employees.
√ Organisation of the ratification of international treaties (This clause may be included in the International Law and Constitution and not the law).
√ Laws of finance and laws of budget and the closure thereof, as well as the ratification of development plans.
√ The fundamental principles of the system of ownership, in kind rights, education, scientific research, culture, public health, the environment, land and urban planning and energy, as well as the Labour Law and social security.
The clauses not mentioned in this Article may be governed by the general dispositional power.

Second Article:
Laws described as organic laws in the Constitution and laws related to the following aspects shall be deemed organic laws:

Third Article:
The Chamber of Deputies shall, by an absolute majority of the members thereof, ratify organic laws and shall, by the majority of the attending members, ratify normal laws on the proviso that such majority is no less than one-third of the members of the Chamber.

Article (65)
Articles not included in the area of law shall be governed by the general dispositional power. Provisions pertinent to such articles may be revised by virtue of an order based on the opinion of the Constitutional Court.

The Prime Minister may take exception to the approval of any draft law or any amendment constituting an intervention in the general dispositional power.

The President of the Republic shall present the matter to the Constitutional Court for settlement in a period no longer than ten days as from the date of having been notified thereof.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Amended version which is to be moved to form a paragraph in the first article of the divided Article (64) above, as follows:
The clauses not mentioned in this Article may be governed by the general dispositional power.

Article (66)
The law shall authorise state resources and expenditures in accordance with the terms stipulated under the organic Budget Law.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To be moved to form the first paragraph in the amended Article (58).

Chapter 4 – Executive Power

President of the Republic
Article (66)
The President of the Republic shall be elected, by the people directly and for a five-year period renewable only once during the last sixty-day period of the term of presidency thereof, by means of general, free, direct and secret elections. The election process shall be by an absolute majority of valid votes.

In the event of failure to achieve this during the first round, a second round shall be organised on the second Sunday following the ballot day. No candidates other than the two having won the highest number of votes during the first round may, in accordance with the terms stipulated under the Elections Law, run for elections.

In the event of failure to hold the elections on the set date as a result of the prevalence of a state of war or the existence of an imminent danger, the term of presidency shall, by virtue of a law ratified by the Chamber of Deputies, be extended until the time at which the elections can be held.

Limitation of the term of presidency to two successive or separate terms shall not be subject to any constitutional amendment.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete the phrase “… renewable only once…”
To change the phrase “… on the second Sunday following the ballot day…” to “… within a fifteen-day period following the ballot day…”
To change the last paragraph to be as follows: “No person may hold the office of presidency for more than two successive or separate terms.”

Article (67)
Running for Presidency of the Republic shall be a right entitled to every male and female elector who bear only the Tunisian nationality by birth and no other, and who embrace Islam.

The candidate shall, on the day of submission of candidacy, be no less than forty years of age and no more than seventy five and shall enjoy all civil and political rights.

The candidate shall be presented by a number of members of the Chamber of Deputies or heads of municipal councils elected in accordance with the terms and manner specified by the Elections Law.

Candidacies shall be recorded in a special record at the Supreme Independent Electoral Authority.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To put “female” before “male” in the first paragraph.
To add “regional and” before “municipal”.
To delete the last paragraph.

Article (68)
The President of the Republic shall be the Head of State and shall represent the unity, secure the independence and continuity, and respect the Constitution, treaties and human rights thereof.

The President of the Republic shall, when exercising the mandates thereof, enjoy judicial immunity. He also enjoys such judicial immunity after the presidential term for all acts executed as part of the office.

The President of the Republic may not combine between the post thereof and any other party leadership responsibility.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change “treaties and human rights” to “the law and ratified treaties”.
To change “judicial immunity” to “immunity against criminal prosecution”
To delete “judicial”.
Proposition: To delete “He also enjoys… executed as part of the office.”

Article (69)
The elected President of the Republic shall, before the Chamber of Deputies, swear in the following oath:
“I do solemnly swear to maintain the independence of the nation and the safety of its territories, to respect its Constitution and legislation and to safeguard fully its interests.”

Article (70)
The official seat of the Presidency of the Republic shall be Tunis and the suburbs thereof. In the event of exceptional circumstances, the headquarters may be transferred to any other location on Tunisian land.

Article (71)
The President of the Republic shall have the following mandates:
– Represent the country.
– Appoint the Grand Mufti of Tunisia.
– Be the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and internal security forces.
– Declare war and establish peace, upon the approval of a majority of three-fifths of the members of the Chamber of Deputies as well as send troops abroad, upon the approval of the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies and the Prime Minister provided that the Chamber shall convene with a view to making a decision on the matter within a period of no more than sixty days.
– Declare the state of emergency in accordance with the conditions set forth in Article (73).
– Appoint and exempt individuals with respect to senior military and security positions and public institutions affiliated to the Ministry of Defence, after taking the opinion of the competent parliamentary committee. In the event that no opinion is given within a twenty-day period, this shall be deemed implicit acceptance thereof. Senior positions shall be regulated by virtue of a law.
– Appoint the Head of the Intelligence Agency, upon taking the opinion of the majority of the members of the competent parliamentary committee.
– Appoint individuals to the senior positions of the Presidency of the Republic and the institutions affiliated thereto.
– Dissolve the Chamber of Deputies as per the conditions stipulated under the Constitution.
– Award decorations.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete “Represent the country” and put “The President of the Republic is the head representative of the Republic of Tunisia” before “The President of the Republic shall have the following mandates”.
To change “Grand Mufti of Tunisia” to “Grand Mufti of the Republic”.
There is a dominant opinion in the Commission which considers that security is not among the powers of the President of the Republic while there is a different opinion which considers that the current wording should be kept as it is. However, approving any of the two opinions will affect the whole text.

Article (72)
First Wording:
The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister shall, in consultation and agreement with each other, lay down the foreign policy of the state.
The President of the Republic shall, upon the proposal of the government, accredit diplomatic representatives abroad and accredit the diplomatic representatives of foreign countries.

Second Wording:
The President of the Republic shall lay down the foreign policy of the state and adopt ambassadors abroad, after taking (the opinion*) of the majority of members of the competent parliamentary committee. The President shall also appoint the senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the institutions affiliated thereto, as well as appoint the diplomatic missions and consulates to foreign countries and regional and international organisations, upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, the President shall approve the accreditation of representatives of foreign countries and regional and international organisations to Tunisia.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
There is a dominant opinion in the Commission in favour of the first wording wherein the phrase “after taking the opinion of the majority of the members of the competent parliamentary committee” can be inserted.

Article (73)
In the event of an imminent danger threatening the entity, security and independence of the homeland in such a manner preventing the normal operation of the entities of the state, the President of the Republic may undertake any procedures necessitated by the prevailing circumstances, after consultation with the Prime Minister, the Constitutional Court and the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies. The President shall, to that effect, address the nation.

The procedures shall aim to secure the reoperation of the general constitutional authorities as soon as possible. The Constitutional Court shall, with respect to such procedures, be consulted. The Chamber of Deputies shall be deemed in a state of continuous convention throughout such period and after the elapse of a thirty-day period as from the implementation of the procedures. The Chair of the Chamber of Deputies or thirty of the members thereof are entitled to resort to the Constitutional Court with a view to verifying whether the circumstances specified in Paragraph (1) of the present Article still exist. The Court shall issue the decision thereof publicly within a period no later than fifteen days. The Constitutional Court shall pledge to verify, on its own accord, the continuity of the circumstances upon the elapse of a sixty-day period as from taking the decision and at every time thereafter.

In such event, the President of the Republic may not dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and may not bring a motion of censure against the government.

The procedures cease to bear effect upon the termination of the reasons causing the existence thereof. The President of the Republic shall, to that effect, address the nation.

Article (74)
The President of the Republic may, directly or upon a request made by the government, submit to a public referendum (any draft law on rights, freedoms)* or general authorities and/or any draft law on the authorisation of the ratification of international treaties, (provided such treaties are not in contradiction with the Constitution based on the opinion of the Constitutional Court)*.

If the result of the referendum is the ratification of the draft law, the President of the Republic shall seal and publish the law within a period exceeding no more than fifteen days as from the date of announcement of the results.

The President of the Republic shall submit, for a public referendum, any treaty that may result in the introduction of amendments to the Constitution, after the approval of the Chamber of Deputies, in accordance with the provisions and terms stipulated under the Constitution.

The Elections Law shall specify the means of conducting referenda and announcing the results thereof.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete the word “public” in the first and third paragraphs.
There is a prevalent opinion which considers that the first paragraph should be deleted, and the paragraph should be re-ordered as follows:
“The President of the Republic shall submit, for a public referendum, any treaty that may result in the introduction of amendments to the Constitution, after the approval of the Chamber of Deputies, in accordance with the provisions and terms stipulated under the Constitution.
If the result of the referendum is the ratification of the draft law, the President of the Republic shall seal and publish the law within a period exceeding no more than fifteen days as from the date of announcement of the results.
The Elections Law shall specify the means of conducting referenda and announcing the results thereof.”

Article (75)
The President of the Republic shall ratify international treaties. Ratified treaties shall be deemed more powerful than laws.

The President of the Republic shall have the right to exercise special pardon or commutation of punishments.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:

To separate the two paragraphs: The first paragraph can be moved to Article (62), and the second paragraph can be moved to Article (71), and delete the phrase “commutation of punishments”.

Article (76)
The President of the Republic may address the Chamber of Deputies and the Council of Ministers directly or through a statement addressed thereto.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Recommendation: To delete this Article.

Article (77)
The President of the Republic shall (necessarily)*, in issues over which the said has cognisance, preside over the Council of Ministers, and preside over it, upon the request of the Prime Minister, on other issues.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change the phrase “over which the said has cognisance” to “falling within the powers of the said”.
To delete the word “necessarily”.
To change the wording as follows:
“The President of the Republic shall, in issues falling within the powers of the said or upon the request of the Prime Minister, preside over the Council of Ministers.”

Article (78)
First Wording:
The President of the Republic shall duly seal laws within a period no more than fifteen days as from receipt thereof from the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies. The President may, once having received the text of a law, return the law to the Chamber for a second reading.

If the Chamber of Deputies ratifies the law in accordance with the first ratification draft, the President of the Republic shall seal the law.

Second Wording:
The President of the Republic shall duly seal laws including, inter alia, treaties, and issue such in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Tunisia within a period no later than fifteen days as from the date of receipt thereof from the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies.
The President of the Republic is entitled, during the period designated for the act of sealing, to return a draft law to the Chamber of Deputies for a second reading. If the law is ratified by an absolute majority of the members of the Chamber, with respect to normal laws, and by a majority of two-thirds of the members, with respect to organic laws, the law shall be passed and published within a period of no more than fifteen days as from the date of receipt by the President of the Republic.
In the event that the law is entrusted to the Constitutional Court, the law shall be published in a relevant manner and shall be in conformity with the Constitution or the law shall be returned to the Chamber of Deputies for a second reading.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
The second wording is given preponderance over the first.
To add “along with justification” after “to return a draft law” in the second paragraph.
To delete “including, inter alia, treaties…”

Article (79)
Discussions of draft laws shall be undertaken by the Council of Ministers. Decrees of dispositional nature shall be countersigned by the relevant minister.

Article (80)
First Wording:
The Prime Minister shall assign senior civil positions.
Senior civil positions shall be regulated by virtue of a law.

Second Wording:
The President of the Republic shall, upon the proposition of the Prime Minister, assign senior civil positions after taking the opinion of the competent parliamentary committees. If the opinion of the committees fails to be delivered within a period no later than twenty days as from the date the file is received by the Chamber of Deputies, the opinion shall be deemed to be that of implicit acceptance.
Civil senior positions shall be regulated by virtue of a law.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
The first wording is given preponderance over the second.

Article (81)
The President of the Republic shall, in the event of a temporary inability to perform the tasks thereof, delegate the relevant authorities to the Prime Minister.
The President of the Republic shall inform the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies of the temporary delegation of authority.

Article (82)
Upon the permanent vacancy of the office of the President of the Republic as a result of the demise, resignation or absolute disability thereof, or for any other reason, the Constitutional Court shall hold a prompt meeting and acknowledge the permanent vacancy of the office by an absolute majority of the members thereof. The Court shall, by virtue of a statement, notify the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies who shall, on a temporary basis, immediately undertake the tasks of presidency for a duration of no less than forty five days and no more than ninety days.

Article (83)
In the event of a permanent vacancy of the office of the President of the Republic, the person undertaking the tasks of presidency shall be sworn in before the Chamber of Deputies and, whenever necessary, before the bureau of the Chamber.

The person undertaking the tasks of the President of the Republic, on a temporary basis, may not run for presidency even in the event of submitting the resignation thereof.

Article (84)
The person undertaking the tasks of the President of the Republic, during the temporary or permanent vacancy of the office, shall exercise presidential tasks without being entitled to amend the Constitution, resort to a referendum, dismiss the government, dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, and/or take any of the exceptional measures stipulated under Article (73) of the Constitution.

A new President for the Republic shall, during the interim presidential period, be elected directly by the people for a five-year term.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change “without being entitled to amend” to “without being entitled to propose an amendment to”.
To delete “dismiss the government”.
To delete “directly by the people”.
To change “a five-year term” to “a full presidential term”.

Article (85)
Upon the initiation of one-third of the members of the Chamber of Deputies, the Chamber may accuse the President of the Republic of high treason. A decision in such regard shall not be issued unless approved by two-thirds of the members of the Chamber. In such event, the President of the Republic shall be referred to the Constitutional Court for sentencing. High treason shall involve the following:
– Flagrant abuse of power, intentional breach of the Constitution or intentional abandonment of office, by virtue of which the entity of the state and the sound functioning of the constitutional institutions thereof are threatened.
– Bribery, financial corruption and favouring the interests of foreign parties above the higher interests of the nation.

In the event of condemnation, the Constitutional Court may not render its sentence except by way of ousting.
No President sentenced with ouster is entitled to run for Presidency once again.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
Some of the above-mentioned acts are crimes entailing punishment, so it should be noted that ousting may not absolve the accused from necessary prosecution.

The Government

Article (86)
The Prime Minister shall regulate the general policy of the state and shall ensure the execution thereof (with the exception of matters entrusted to the President of the Republic)*. The Prime Minister shall also preside over the Council of Ministers except in the cases specified under Article (77), exercise the general dispositional power, govern the administration and issue dispositional and individual decrees signed thereby upon discussing the matter with the Council of Ministers and notifying the President of the Republic. The Prime Minister shall conclude international agreements of technical nature.

The government shall ensure the enforcement of laws. The Prime Minister may delegate some of the authorities thereof to ministers.

The Prime Minister alone shall, in addition to the aforementioned, have the following terms of reference:
1) Introduce changes to and dissolve ministries and bureaus of the state over which the said has cognisance, as well as regulate the terms of reference and authorities thereof upon discussing the matter with the Council of Ministers and notifying the President of the Republic.
2) Establish, dissolve and introduce changes to public institutions, public entities and administrative departments as well as regulate the terms of reference and authorities thereof upon discussing the matter with the Council of Ministers and notifying the President of the Republic.
3) Endorse any dispositional decisions issued by ministers.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete the phrase “over which the said has cognisance” from item No. (1).
To delete the phrase “with the exception of matters entrusted to the President of the Republic” and “except in the cases specified under Article (77)” from the first paragraph.

Article (87)
The government shall be composed of a Prime Minister, ministers and state clerks appointed by the President of the Republic…

First proposition: (To add) … upon the proposition of the Prime Minister and in conformity therewith on the sectors over which the President of the Republic has cognisance.

Second proposition: (To add) … and the President of the Republic shall solely appoint the ministers of sectors over which the said has cognisance.

The President of the Republic shall entrust the candidate of the electoral party or coalition having won the most number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies with the task of forming the government within a one-month period extendable only once.

If the specified period of time elapses without the formation of the government or in the event of failure to receive the vote of trust of the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Republic shall consult with the parties, coalitions and blocks within the Chamber with a view to entrusting the person most capable of constituting a government within a period of no more than one month.

If a three-month period elapses from the date of the legislative elections and the members of the Chamber of Deputies fail to agree on the formation of the government, the President of the Republic may dissolve the Chamber and call for new legislative elections to be held.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
It is sufficient to say “The government shall be composed of a Prime Minister, ministers and state clerks” in the first paragraph and delete the rest.
To change “extendable” to “renewable” at the end of the second paragraph.
To change “constituting” to “forming” in the third paragraph.
To change “three-month” to “four-month”.
To change “legislative elections” to “first entrustment” in the fourth paragraph.
To change “the formation of the government” to “granting trust to the government”.
To add a last paragraph as follows: “When the government wins the trust of the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Republic shall nominate the Prime Minister and members of the government”.

Article (88)
The members of the government shall be sworn in before the President of the Republic.
The government shall be held accountable before the Chamber of Deputies.

Article (89)
Membership of the government and of the Chamber of Deputies may not be combined.

Any member of the Chamber of Deputies who is a member of the government shall be replaced in accordance with the provisions of the Elections Law.

The Prime Minister and the members of the government may not be employed in any other profession regardless of the nature thereof.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change “Any member … the Elections Law” to “The Elections Law shall regulate the manner of filling the vacancy in the Chamber”.

Article (90)
In the event of a request submitted by the Chamber of Deputies, the members of the government shall be obliged to attend.

Every member of the Chamber of Deputies may pose oral and written questions to the government (and/or may present briefings thereto)*.

A session shall be devoted periodically with a view to holding discussions between the Chamber of Deputies and the members of the government.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete “and/or may present briefings thereto… members of the government”.

Article (91)
Votes may be taken on a motion of censure brought against the government after at least one-third of the members of the Chamber of Deputies make a justified request to the Chair of the Chamber. The voting process shall not take place except after the elapse of a fifteen-day period as from the date that the request was presented to the Chairmanship of the Chamber.

Withdrawal of the vote of confidence given to the government shall be conditional upon the approval of an absolute majority of the members of the Chamber of Deputies…

First proposition: (To add) … and upon the presentation of a candidate alternative to the Prime Minister and who shall receive a vote of confidence during the same voting process. The President of the Republic shall entrust the candidate with the task of forming the government.

Second proposition: (To add) … and present an alternative government.
In the event that the specified majority is not attained, the motion of censure may not be reintroduced against the government except after the elapse of a six-month period.
(The Chamber of Deputies shall not bring more than two motions of censure against the government during the same term of mandate.)*

The Chamber of Deputies may withdraw the vote of confidence given to any of the ministers after at least one-third of the members of the Chamber of Deputies make a justified request to the Chair of the Chamber. Withdrawal of the vote of confidence shall be by an absolute majority of votes.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
The first proposition is given preponderance over the second.
To change “The Chamber of Deputies shall not bring more than two motions of censure against the government during the same term of mandate” to “The Chamber of Deputies shall not withdraw the vote of confidence given to the government more than twice during the same term of mandate”.
To move the second paragraph to form the penultimate one.
To change “ministers” to “member of the government”.

Article (92)
The Prime Minister may request, from the Chamber of Deputies, that a vote of confidence be given for the government to continue the activities thereof. Voting shall be by a majority of the members of the Chamber.
In the event of failure to receive a vote of confidence and the failure of the Chamber of Deputies to agree on a candidate alternative within a one-month period, …

First proposition: (To add) … the President of the Republic shall dissolve the Chamber and call for holding legislative elections.

Second proposition: (To add) … the President of the Republic may propose, in no more than three successive trials, a candidate to the Prime Ministership. If neither of the proposed candidates receives the confidence of the Chamber of Deputies within a thirty-day period, the President of the Republic shall dissolve the Chamber and call for holding legislative elections.

Third proposition: (To add) … the President of the Republic may dissolve the parliament within a period not exceeding twenty days as from the date that the parliament refused to grant the vote of confidence to the government, and the said may call for holding legislative elections.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:

To amend the wording to be as follows:
If the government requests a vote of confidence as a result of the Chamber of Deputies voting on a draft law presented thereby, down votes against the law shall be deemed a withdrawal of the vote of confidence given to the government and the government shall be obliged to resign.

Article (93)
If the Prime Minister is unable to perform the duties thereof on a temporary basis, the said shall delegate the relevant authorities to one of the ministers.

If, for any reason, the post of Prime Minister is permanently vacant, the President of the Republic shall appoint the candidate of the electoral party or coalition having won the most number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies to undertake the tasks of Prime Ministership after receiving the vote of confidence of the Chamber in accordance with the provisions stipulated in Article (87).

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To change “appoint” to “nominate”.

Article (94)
Any disputes arising with respect to the terms of reference of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister shall be submitted to the Constitutional Court. The Court shall resolve the dispute by virtue of decisions taken by the majority of the members thereof based on a request presented thereto by the keenest of the parties or on its own accord (and every interested party)* in the event of a negative conflict.

Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:
To delete “by virtue of decision taken by the majority of the members thereof” and “or on its own accord (and every interested party)* in the event of a negative conflict”.

Defence and Security

Article (95)
The Defence and Internal Security agencies shall be governed by the following principles:
– The security agencies shall be governed by the Executive Authority.
– The state alone shall form the armed forces and internal security forces. No armed organisations or agencies that are not under the flag of the national army or internal security shall be formed except under a law.
– The security agencies shall administer and train the personnel thereof…

First proposition: (To add) … in accordance with the law.
Second proposition: (To add) … in accordance with the Constitution, law and treaties.
– No member of the security agencies may follow orders of clear illegal nature.
– No member of the internal security agencies may be judicially prosecuted for the work performed thereby in connection with the performance of the tasks decided and assigned by the leadership of the concerned agency thereto…
– First proposition: (To add) … unless the orders given thereto are of a clear illegal nature.
– Second proposition: (To add) … unless the orders given thereto violate the physical sanctity of citizens, overthrow the democratic regime or electoral legality.
– The security agencies shall stay completely neutral.
– A parliamentary committee shall be responsible for monitoring the observance and application of these principles.
Opinion of the Joint Commission for Coordination and Drafting:

Article (96)
The national army is an armed military force formed and organised, at the structural and regulatory levels, in accordance with the law. It is politically-neutral and shall defend the nation and the independence, unity and land thereof. The army shall contribute to the efforts exerted in the areas of relief and development, and shall support the civil authorities in accordance with the provisions stipulated under the Emergency Law.

Article (97)
Military people shall enjoy the constitutional rights accredited to all citizens, except for those in conflict with the values and principles on which the neutrality of the military institution are based, particularly the political and syndicate rights.

Article (98)
National Service shall be obligatory for citizens in accordance with the provisions and terms of the law.

Article (99)
The internal security forces shall be entrusted, under the control of the Executive Authority and in accordance with the law, with the tasks of keeping order, maintaining public security, protecting the sanctity and safety of the people, protecting public and private property, and fighting crime and investigating therein while observing complete neutrality.

Chapter 5 – Judicial Power

Article (100)
The judiciary is an independent authority that ensures the prevalence of justice, the supremacy of the Constitution, the sovereignty of the law and the protection of rights and freedoms. Judges are independent. No power shall be exercised over the rulings thereof other than the power of the Constitution and law.

Article (101)
A judge shall be competent, impartial and fair. Any shortcomings by any judge in the performance of the duties thereof shall be grounds for questioning.

First Title: Judiciary, and Administrative and Financial Judiciary

Article (102)
Judges shall be appointed by virtue of a decree issued by the President of the Republic based on the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Council.

Article (103)
No judge may be transferred, without the consent thereof, and no judge may be dismissed except in such cases and in accordance with the guarantees provided for by the law and by virtue of a justified decision by the Supreme Judicial Council.

No judge may be suspended, deposed or subjected to a disciplinary punishment unless by virtue of a justified decision issued by the Supreme Judicial Council and in accordance with the guarantees provided for by the law.

Article (104)
The right to litigation and the right to defence shall be guaranteed.

Parties to litigation shall be deemed equal before the judiciary.

Two-level litigation shall be guaranteed by the law. Underprivileged persons shall have access to the judiciary.
Every individual shall have the right to a fair trial.

Court sessions shall be public unless otherwise deemed necessary by law. Announcement of judgments shall be made in public.

Article (105)
Courts shall be classified by virtue of an organic law. No exceptional courts or exceptional procedures that may prejudice the principles of fair trial may be established or adopted.

Military judiciary is of a specialised nature. An organic law shall regulate terms of reference, structure and organisation of the Military judiciary as well as the procedures applicable before it.

Article (106)
Any interference in the judiciary shall be deemed a crime punishable by law.

Article (107)
Sentences shall be issued and executed in the name of the people. Failing to execute, or impeding the execution of, a sentence without legal grounds is not permissible.

Supreme Judicial Council
Article (108)
The Supreme Judicial Council shall ensure the prevalence of justice and respect for the independence of the judiciary, propose reforms and express opinion with respect to draft laws related to the judiciary, and decide on the professional conduct of judges and on disciplinary measures.

Article (109)
The Supreme Judicial Council shall be composed of a general session, the Judiciary Council, the Administrative Judicial Council and the Financial Judicial Council.

Article (110)
Half of each of these councils shall be composed of elected judges and appointed judges while the other half shall be composed of other individuals.

The Supreme Judicial Council shall elect the Head of the Council from amongst the member judges thereof.

Article (111)
The Supreme Judicial Council shall enjoy administrative and financial independence and self-management, and shall prepare and discuss the budget thereof before the competent committee at the Chamber of Deputies.

Article (112)
An organic law shall regulate the terms of reference, structure and organisation of the Supreme Judicial Council as well as the procedures applicable before it.

The Judiciary
Article (113)
The judiciary shall include the Court of Cassation, headquartered in the capital, courts of first instance and appellate courts.

Article (114)
The Public Prosecution shall be a part and parcel of the judiciary.

Guarantees given to the judiciary include, inter alia, council judges and public prosecution judges.
Members of the Public Prosecution shall exercise the mandates thereof in accordance with the legal guarantees and procedures.

Administrative Judiciary
Article (115)
The administrative judiciary shall have jurisdiction to look into any abuse of power by the administration as well as look into any administrative disputes. The administrative judiciary shall, in accordance with the law, exercise consultative functions.

The administrative judiciary shall be composed of the Supreme Administrative Court, administrative courts of first instance and administrative courts of appeal.

The Supreme Administrative Court shall prepare a general annual report to be submitted to the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.

The organisation, terms of reference and procedures of the administrative judiciary as well as the statute of the judges thereof shall be governed by an organic law.

Financial Judiciary
Article (116)
The Financial Judiciary shall be composed of the Court of Audit with its different bodies.

The Financial Judiciary shall supervise the wise spending of public funds in accordance with the principles of Sharia, effectiveness and transparency.

The Financial Judiciary shall decide on the accounts of public auditors.

The Financial Judiciary shall evaluate the ways of disposition and prevent any errors related thereto.

The Financial Judiciary shall assist the legislative and executive powers in supervising the enforcement and sealing of financial laws.

The Court of Audit shall prepare a general annual report as well as special reports, when necessary, that shall be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. The reports shall be published for the public.

The organisation, terms of reference and procedures of the Court of Audit as well as the statute of the judges thereof shall be governed by an organic law.

Second Title: Constitutional Court

Article (117)
The Constitutional Court shall have jurisdiction over monitoring the constitutionality of:
(a) Draft laws submitted to it by the President of the Republic prior to the signature thereof. It is mandatory to submit drafts related to the amendment of the Constitution, draft organic laws, and drafts related to the ratification of international treaties. Submission of other draft laws by the President of the Republic, the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies, Primes Minister or one-fifth of the members of the Chamber of Deputies shall be optional.
(b) Laws automatically submitted to it by courts or upon the request of a litigant with respect to a dispute presented before the court in accordance with the procedures regulated by law.
(c) The statutes of the Chamber of Deputies necessarily presented before it by the Chair of the Chamber.
The Constitutional Court shall also have cognisance over:
(d) Studying cases related to the vacancy of the office of the President of the Republic, and the state of emergency and exceptional circumstances.
(e) Disputes arising with respect to the terms of reference of the Legislative and Executive powers, and disputes arising with respect to the terms of reference of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, provided that such disputes be referred to the Court by the keenest of the parties.
(f) Any charges brought against the President of the Republic with respect to violation of the Constitution and high treason.
(g) Individuals may, after all other means of appeal have been exhausted, file a direct appeal before the Constitutional Court against prevailing provisions which the Constitutional Court has not previously looked into if such provisions are in violation of the rights and freedoms prescribed under the Constitution.

Article (118)
The Constitutional Court shall be composed of twelve members having no less than twenty years of high legal expertise.

The President of the Republic shall nominate four members, the Prime Minister shall nominate four members, the Chair of the Chamber of Deputies shall nominate eight members and the Supreme Judicial Council shall nominate eight members.

Adopting one half from each nominating party, the Chamber of Deputies shall, from amongst the nominated members, elect twelve members by a two-third majority. The mandate of the elected members shall be for a one-term period lasting for nine years.

In the event that the required majority is not reached, the remaining candidates shall, with the same majority required, stand for election again. In the event of failure to reach quorum, other members shall be nominated and the election process shall be repeated following the same method.

One-third of the members of the Constitutional Court shall be renewed every three-year period. Any vacancies in the hierarchy of the Court shall be filled by virtue of the means adopted during appointment.

The members of the Constitutional Court shall, from amongst the members, elect a President and a Vice President of the Court.

Article (119)
The members of the Constitutional Court are judges subject to the provisions set in Articles (1) and (2) of the Chapter on Judicial Power.

Article (120)
Combining membership in the Constitutional Court and undertaking any other job or task shall be prohibited.

Article (121)
Any draft law on violation of the provisions of the Constitution shall be referred to the Chamber of Deputies for a second look and for amendment in accordance with the decision issued by the Constitutional Court. The President of the Republic shall, prior to sealing the draft law and within a one-month period, resend the law to the Constitutional Court to study the extent of conformity of the amendment made with the decision issued by the Court.

Article (122)
Cognisance of the Constitutional Court shall be limited to any appeals filed and decided on within a three-month period renewable by virtue of a justified decision issued by the Court.

Article (123)
If the Constitutional Court decides on the unconstitutionality of the law, the law shall, within the limits specified by the Court, no longer be applied.

Article (124)
The Court shall take the decisions thereof by majority and the President of the Court shall, in the event of parity, have a casting vote. Decisions issued by the Constitutional Court shall be justified and binding upon all authorities. The decisions shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Tunisia.

Article (125)
An organic law shall govern the organisation of the Constitutional Court and the procedures followed thereby as well as the guarantees enjoyed by the members thereof.

Chapter 6 – Constitutional Authorities

Article (126)
The constitutional authorities are independent authorities that aim to promote democracy and achieve the goals of the revolution. They shall enjoy a legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. These authorities shall be elected by the Chamber of Deputies, shall submit an annual report thereto, and shall be held accountable before the Chamber. All organs of the state shall facilitate the work thereof.

The composition and organisation of these authorities shall be governed by an organic law.

Electoral Authority
Article (127)
The Electoral Authority shall be entrusted with the management and organisation of national, regional and local elections as well as referenda. The Authority shall also oversee the elections and referenda during all phases, ensure the soundness, integrity and transparency of the election process, and announce the results thereof.

The Authority shall enjoy general dispositional power in the domain of the jurisdictions thereof.

The Authority shall be composed of nine independent, impartial and competent members to be elected for one, non-renewable six-year period. One-third of the members shall be replaced biennially.

Media Authority

Article (128)
The Media Authority shall oversee the organisation, modulation and development of the media sector and shall guarantee the freedom of expression and of the media and the right to access information. The Authority shall also guarantee the existence of plural and fair media.
The Authority shall be composed of nine independent, impartial, competent and experienced members to be elected for one five-year period, renewable on a partial basis.

Human Rights Authority

Article (129)
The Human Rights Authority shall oversee the extent to which human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected and promoted. The Authority shall also propose amendments to the laws related to human rights.
The Authority shall conduct investigations into the violation of any human rights with a view to settlement or referral to the competent authority.

The Authority shall be composed of independent and impartial individuals to be elected for one, non-renewable six-year period.

Authority of Sustainable Development and Rights of Future Generations

Article (130)
The Authority shall have cognisance over the general policies of the state, at the economic, social and environmental levels, with a view to attaining sustainable development that can guarantee the rights of future generations.

The Authority shall be consulted on draft laws related to the areas under the jurisdiction thereof and on the development plans. The Authority’s opinions, as well as the justification for non-adoption of such opinions by the Legislative Power, shall be published.

Authority for Good Governance and Anti-Corruption

Article (131)
The Authority shall contribute to the policies of good governance and anti-corruption, follow up on the implementation thereof and spread the relevant culture, and promote the principles of transparency, integrity and accountability.

The Authority shall unearth all cases of corruption within both the public and private sectors and shall investigate therein and refer the cases to the competent authorities.

The Authority shall render the opinion thereof with respect to draft provisions of law and disposition related to the duties undertaken thereby.

The Authority shall be composed of fair, independent and competent individuals to be elected for one six-year period, renewable on a partial basis.

Chapter 7 – Local Government

Article (132)
Local administrative organisations shall be based on the principle of decentralisation within the framework of the unity of the state.

Decentralisation shall be represented in local groups made up of municipalities, districts and regions covering the entire nation in accordance with a distribution strategy governed by law.

Other local authorities may be established by virtue of a law.

Article (133)
Local authorities shall enjoy a legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. They shall attend to local interests in accordance with the principle of free discretion.

Article (134)
Local authorities shall manage elected councils.

Municipal and regional councils shall be elected by virtue of general, free, secret and direct elections.

Regional councils shall be elected by the members of the local and regional councils.

Article (135)
Local authorities shall enjoy self-managed terms of reference, terms of reference co-managed with the state, and terms of reference transferred thereto by the state.

The co-managed and transferred terms of reference shall be distributed in accordance with the principle of branching.

Local authorities shall enjoy dispositional power in satisfying their mandates.

Article (136)
Local authorities shall be furnished with self-generated resources and with resources given thereto by the state. Financial systems of local authorities shall be governed by law.

All terms of reference established or transferred to local authorities by the state shall be coupled with the relevant resources required.

Article (137)
With a view to consolidating the principle of solidarity between authorities, the state shall guarantee the provision of additional resources for the welfare of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of settlement and adjustment.

The state shall balance local resources with local burdens.

Article (138)
Local authorities shall have the freedom to dispose of the resources thereof in accordance with the rules of good governance and under the supervision of the financial judiciary.

Article (139)
Local authorities shall, with respect to the legitimacy of the work thereof, be subject to subsequent supervision as well as to judicial supervision.

Article (140)
Local authorities shall adopt the mechanisms of democracy and partnership to ensure the broadest participation of citizens and civil society in the preparation of development programs and the development of land and shall follow up on the execution and evaluation thereof in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Article (141)
Local authorities may cooperate and enter into partnerships with each other with a view to laying down programs or executing work of common interest.

Local authorities may also join international and regional unions and establish partnerships and cooperation on a decentralised basis.

Forms of cooperation and partnerships between authorities shall be regulated by law.

Article (142)
The Supreme Council of Local Authorities shall have cognisance over cases related to development and balance between authorities and shall give opinion with respect to any legislation related to local planning, budget and financial issues.

The Head of the Supreme Council of Local Authorities may attend discussions of the Chamber of Deputies and address such.

The composition of the Supreme Council of Local Authorities and the mandates thereof shall be defined by law.

Article (143)
The administrative judiciary shall have cognisance over disputes related to the jurisdiction of local and central authorities as well as over any disputes arising among local authorities.

Chapter 8 – Amendment of the Constitution

Article (144)
The President of the Republic, as well as one-third of the members of the Chamber of Deputies, shall have the right to initiate a request to amend the Constitution. A proposition initiated by the President of the Republic shall have priority.

Article (145)
Each proposition to amend the Constitution shall be submitted by the Chamber of Deputies to the Constitutional Court to ensure that such proposition is not related to an article to which the Constitution has banned any amendment. The Chamber of Deputies shall then study the proposed amendment with a view to obtaining the approval of the absolute majority of the members on the concept of amendment.

Article (146)
The Constitution shall be amended upon the approval of two-thirds of the members of the Chamber of Deputies and after the amendment has been approved by an absolute majority when put to a referendum.

Article (147)
No amendment shall be introduced to the present Constitution unless after the elapse of a five-year period as of the date of entry into force thereof.

Article (148)
No amendment to the Constitution may be prejudice to:
– Islam, being the religion of the state.
– The Arabic language, being the official language.
– The republican nature of the regime.
– The civil capacity of the state.
– Gains of human rights and freedoms guaranteed under the present Constitution.
– The number and duration of presidential terms. Such may not be subject to increase.

Chapter 9 – Final Provisions

Article (149)
The Preamble of the present Constitution shall be deemed an integral part thereof and shall be just as valuable as all the provisions stated hereunder.
________

View/download the PDF formatted file of the English Translation of the Draft Constititon.

International leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood meet in Turkey to strategize for the crisis in Egypt and to plan for the future

International leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood meet in Turkey to strategize for the crisis in Egypt and to plan for the future


Middle East Politics Reshuffle: The Future of Islam in the public sphere
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Ghannouchi to take a major role in Muslim Brotherhood International
The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s government in Egypt on July 3rd, 2013 forced the group’s international leaders to rethink the movements options. This weekend, they gathered in Turkey. The meetings were closed to the public. The limited information that leaked out suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood International is not about to change its overall strategy or replace its aging leaders. Instead, they embraced the old guard again, in a sign that they are not about to look to the youth to transition to the new century. They elected Rached Ghannouchi, who presided over the Tunisian Islamist movement for over 32 years, to lead the political bureau. Looking forward, the movement’s leaders seem interested in limiting the damage of their fall in Egypt, not in renewing its thinking. There is no indication that they are looking at the Arab Spring in its proper context.

 

The removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in Egypt is just one unexpected turn in an unpredictable current of events created by the so-called Arab Spring. Just like the first wave of uprisings, the second uprising in Egypt has created new trends in Egyptian and Islamic societies. Politicians, especially Islamist ones, have an opportunity to learn many lessons from these events.

Two things Mohamed Morsi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood could have done to save themselves from the dramatic fall witnessed on July 3, 2013.

First, Morsi should have ordered parliamentarian elections within the first 60 days of his presidency. The nullification of the first elections should have been a signal that the legislative power is very important for Egyptian society and for interested groups. The legislature plays a double role. It checks the executive branch and in doing so it bestows legitimacy on the government. The legislative void had created a deceptively enticing opportunity for politicians, like Morsi, to consolidate power, which he did, and that cost him the presidency.

Before moving on to the next point, let’s make something clear: having the legislature in place is not an absolute guarantee that would have kept the Egyptian military out of politics. But it would have made it harder for it to get involved. It is a fact that the military leaders did not like the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power. They did all they could to remain influential and keep the Muslim Brotherhood out since the fall of Mubarak. But they also did all they could to keep the appearance of siding with the people and acting within the “rule of law.” It was a unique opportunity for them to see millions of people in the squares calling for the fall of a regime they detested all along. Their bias against the Brotherhood explains why they gave Morsi three days to work out a solution with the opposition before they forced him out whereas they gave Mubarak three long weeks (and nearly 800 deaths). 

Second, the Muslim Brotherhood should not have entered into an alliance with the more conservative Salafis. Doing so moved it to the right when it needed to move center-left. Most democratic societies are governed from the center and the Salafis are a drag to the far right. The party of the Muslim Brotherhood should have worked harder to establish a healthy working relationship with centrist liberal parties and activists. The Brotherhood’s alliance with the Salafis did not buy them any favors. After all, when the end was near, the Salafis have shown that they were better politicians than the Muslim Brotherhood’s and they sided with the June 30thprotest movement and the military to approve the removal of Morsi.

There is a basis for the above claims: the actions of the Islamist group in Tunisia, Ennahdha. Like the Muslim Brotherhood, Ennahdha won over 40% of the seats in the first elected assembly. Ennahdha could have entered into an alliance with other Islamism-oriented political groups, like the faction of Hachmi Hamdi or other independent members of the assembly. Instead, they courted center-left parties and established a governing coalition that minimized the risks of a second wave of protest despite all the mistakes they have committed since the elections of 2011.

In contrast, and more like Egypt than Tunisia, Turkey’s AKP party won a slim majority that allowed it to govern on its own. Because it is governing on its own, and with the first political crisis, protesters found the AKP and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an easy target. Protesters blamed Erdogan and his party of authoritarianism and abuse of power. In addition to the immediate economic and political losses, AKP might suffer a setback in the coming elections unless the party’s leaders adjust their way of governing and communicating with the public. 

The Egyptian crisis is a humbling experience for emerging politicians in Islamic societies. It teaches them to focus more on inclusion and less on power grab, if not for the sake of their countries, then for the sake of their own political parties.

Globally and regionally, the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will undoubtedly affect other regional crises and alliances. 

Regionally, Egypt’s political changes has weakened the alliance between the ruling family in Qatar and the global Muslim Brotherhood movement represented in Yousef Qaradawi. Immediately after the military declaration, Qatar’s new Emir sent his congratulations to the interim Egyptian president. Qaradawi on the other hand, called on Egyptians to resist the military coup and insisted that Islamic law prohibits the removal of legitimate leaders. 

The Saudi ruling family, too, acted quickly and recognized the new leadership in Egypt. Days later, King Abdullah ordered that $5 billion is made available to Egypt. United Arab Emirates and Kuwait provided another $6 billion together. Those endorsements and economic aid did not please the conservative religious groups. The Saudi Salafi satellite televisions and websites sided with Morsi despite the fact that Egyptian Salafis abandoned him, while Alarabiya took the side of the military.

While the Syrian regime felt vindicated that the Brotherhood failed, Iranian officials said that the military’s involvement in politics is unacceptable and that the new leaders must meet the demands of the Egyptian people. Although Iran did not call for the restoration of Morsi’s government, they took a less enthusiastic position towards a new regime propped up by the military. 

Turkey, on the other hand, threw its full support behind Morsi and insisted that Western governments take the position that what had happened in Egypt is “an unacceptable military coup against the legitimate president.”

It is likely that the fluidity of the situation in the Arab world will force religious scholars to cease and desist from issuing religious fatwas about political matters. The best outcome is for Islamists to be included in the political life and in return they stop using religion and religious institutions to create different classes of citizenship or to use one’s political affiliation and one’s political views as a basis for determining one’s standing before God. Political rights of all citizens should be guaranteed, and that ought to apply for and against religious-minded individuals and groups. In other words, they ought to be able to participate in the political affairs of their nations without them preaching that non-Muslims or Muslims of different sectarian and ideological persuasions are treated as second class citizens.
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* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

Islam and democracy

Islam and democracy

Tunisia at a crossroads 
by Genevieve Theodorakis*

A primary driver of the Tunisian revolution was the unanimous call for freedom of expression and mass participation in national politics. With the demise of the Ben Ali regime, Tunisians hoped their liberation would remove controls on freedom of speech and freedom of the press and further expand women’s rights. In theory, journalists were freed up to share information, unhampered by fear of imprisonment or the harassment that characterised press censorship under Ben Ali, while newly empowered citizens exercised their right to vote in Tunisia’s first democratic elections. However, after recent developments, not only are Tunisia’s newfound liberties under threat, but rights previously enjoyed for decades are being eroded in the process.

 In February 2013, Tunisians experienced their first political assassination in decades, sparking a wave of national protests so fierce that some observers prematurely construed it as the start of a second revolution. While the second revolution did not materialise, the murder of government critic and politician Chokri Belaid was one of many events that led Tunisians to question the sincerity of Tunisia’s liberalisation efforts. Since the election of Tunisia’s first Islamist regime led by the Ennahda party, Tunisians critical of the government have been exposed to verbal and physical attacks together with judicial retribution from rogue actors in society and the state itself. Similarly, long-championed rights for women have been questioned by an increasingly vocal and powerful religious vote that seeks a return to a more traditional Islamic role for women in society. The emergence of these phenomena prompt two questions: what is the status of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and women’s rights in Tunisia’s democracy, and to what extent can the new status quo be attributed to Islamic impositions on democracy?

Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression is advanced as one of the most positive outcomes of the Tunisian revolution, yet in practice, this newfound right is unevenly applied. On one end of the spectrum, members of the political opposition, notably the late Belaid, have routinely received death threats for their criticism of the Ennahda party and were the frequent subject of both verbal and physical abuse in public. A few days before his murder, supporters of Belaid claimed he was attacked for speaking out against the government while at an opposition rally in the northern city of Kef.
Yet there are numerous incidences that reinforce the impression of a lack of disciplinary action against the perpetrators of this violence and verbal abuse. In July 2012, it was reported that religious figures in Tunisian mosques were preaching for the assassination of particular politicians and personalities disparaging Ennahda; a crime which would incur severe punishment had violence been directed at state or religious officials. Yet the culprits received no known condemnation from the government for inciting violence. Indeed, the day before his death, Belaid denounced the “climate of systematic violence” germinating in Tunisia and admonished the ruling coalition for tolerating the radical, anti-modernist demands of hardline Salafists. Thus far, few concrete steps have been taken to ensure that all Tunisians are entitled to the freedom of expression which accords with the most basic principles of law and order. 
Nor is there clear evidence that the Ennahda party intends to fully uphold this commitment. When the government issued a draft constitution in May 2013, Human Rights Watch criticised it for failing to protect freedom of thought through its “broad formulation of permissible limitations to freedom of expression” and freedom of assembly. Contradictions within the draft constitution leave room for discrimination – although Article 6 affirms “all citizens are equal in rights and obligations before the law, without discrimination”, the constitution states that only a Muslim can become president.
Limits also restrict equal protection under the law to Tunisian citizens, which may violate international human rights treaties ratified by the Tunisian government by providing the state with a broad leeway to undermine or restrict human rights through ‘cultural specificities’. Speaking to the press earlier this year, Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, stated, “The NCA should close loopholes in the draft constitution that would allow a future government to crush dissent or limit the basic rights that Tunisians fought hard for.”  

Freedom of the press

Under the rule of Ben Ali, Tunisians were subjected to one of the most oppressive internet censorship regimes in the world, while any journalistic criticism was stymied by media regulations that criminalised defamation, libel, and the disturbance of public order.
Tunisia’s democratic government has sought to reverse this trend by implementing new laws to liberalise restrictions on journalists. Passed in November 2011, decree law No. 2011-115 was designed to protect the rights of journalists to publish without fear of legal retribution and to discipline individuals or groups that partake in physical or verbal assaults directed towards journalists.
The new law was also envisioned to uphold the privacy of writers’ sources while eliminating prior laws that contradict the articles of Law 115. While the full implementation of Law 115 represents a major break from the past, the principles of the law are not being adequately defended, resulting in whatReporters without Borders have called an “unprecedented campaign of death threats against journalists, writers and media workers critical of the ruling Ennahda Party and its handling of recent events”.
Incidences of violence and death threats directed against journalists from across the media spectrum have only increased since the assassination of Belaid. Indeed, his very funeral was the site of a number of violent assaults on journalists and other members of civil society paying tribute to the politician, while several Tunisian journalists received death threats for their coverage of Belaid’s burial.
Tunisian journalists speaking out against the murder of Belaid and the activities of the Ennahda party have also been the target of anti-media rhetoric emanating from several religious leaders from around the country for allegedly “insulting Islam” or “hindering the work of the Ennahda party”, earning journalists critical of the government verbal and physical hostility.
Furthermore, journalists are not the sole victims of the country’s oppressive media laws. In late March, a blogger and a university professor were accused of defaming the minister of foreign affairs and the general rapporteur of the constitution at the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), a charge which could be punished by a prison sentence of two years. Participants in a rap video that questioned the morals and activities of the Tunisian police were also sentenced to six months of imprisonment in March for defamation and protesting against officials. The video’s rapper, Ala Yaakoubi, has not yet been located by police but was convicted of hate speech and incitement to violence and murder in absentia and sentenced to two years in prison. 

Women’s freedoms

Tunisia’s uncertain transition process sparked a nationwide debate concerning the rights of women in society, economics, and politics. Regarded as arguably the most liberal Arab state concerning women’s rights by westerners, Tunisia boasts a long history of expanding the rights enjoyed by women, beginning with the passage of laws assuring women the right to education and gender equality after the country’s independence from France in 1956.
As part of a campaign to secularise Tunisian society, government authorities went so far as to ban the wearing of the veil in universities and public buildings in 1981. Women were also permitted to divorce their husbands on equal terms, while polygamy was banned during a time when men were able to take up to four wives in many other Muslim countries. 
New political freedoms introduced following the exit of the Ben Ali regime have arguably altered the country’s trend towards secularisation, with Tunisia’s new government pursuing an Islamic reawakening in the North African country. Under Ben Ali, even the hijab was forbidden, but his departure has left women free to express their Islamic identity, with an increasing number of Tunisian women wearing the hijab and the niqab.
As a result, although the Ennahda party has made no real move to limit women’s rights in marriage, observers and Tunisians alike fear an increasing infringement on the rights of women in the workplace, in universities, and in society by the growing power of ultra religious actors in politics.
The war for women’s place in the new Tunisia is exemplified by a recent controversy sparked by the feminist protest of a 19-year-old Tunisian student who posted a topless photo of herself on the Internet with the words “my body is mine, not somebody’s honour” scrawled on her chest. Critics of the FEMEN-inspired protest argued that Amina’s interpretation of ‘women’s rights’ denied Tunisian women the agency to decide for themselves whether or not they would wear the niqab.
While this is an important discussion, the legitimate debate for women’s religious expression runs in danger of being overshadowed by a tide of extremism seeking to impose religion on society, summed up by the public declaration of a prominent Salafist cleric to the effect that Amina deserved to be flogged and stoned to death for exposing herself. Nor is Amina alone; increasing numbers of female secularists have become subjects of verbal and physical intimidation by hard-line Islamists who reject the secular elements of the 2011 revolution. It is the growing role of extremist Islamist groups that has increasingly divided Tunisian society, pitting secularists, who fear the widespread imposition of religion at the political and social level, against the religious, some of whom perceive Salafist groups as rare providers of morality and poverty alleviation during an uncertain transition.
The record is certainly mixed; while radical groups like Ansar al-Sharia have become popular in poor areas by distributing food, clothing, and medication, the group also aspires to implement Sharia law and was accused of attacking the American embassy in Tunis in September 2012. 

Islam and democracy 

Viewed from abroad, Tunisia’s difficulties may result from an inevitable struggle between democracy and Islam, posing the oft-reiterated question, “Is Islam compatible with democracy?” Indeed, as the Islamic world’s primary example of an “Islamist” democracy besmirches its reputation in Taksim Square and elsewhere, it is tempting to attribute authoritarian tendencies to all such Islamist perpetrators.
However, to restrict the debate over a perceived increase in authoritarianism to Islam is perhaps to miss out on the broader forces at play in the region. Though Islamists have long influenced the policymaking of Arab leaders, it is only since December 2010 that popular Islam has been provided with a first chance to directly dictate regional politics. Yet censorship, vicious retribution against government critics, and restrictions on women’s rights have nevertheless characterised the policies of many secular Arab regimes from Morocco to Jordan since independence.
Under the rule of heavyweights such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser and Tunisia’s Habib Bourguiba, the state was defined by a strictly secular agenda that silenced the voice of Islam in the name of modernisation. Though women were traditionally allotted more rights within these regimes, during this time, religion was perceived as an obstacle to economic development, and this justified the enforcement of strict censorship laws over self-expression and the press.
Nor were such restrictive practices limited to the Middle East and North Africa, for it is arguable that the majority of developing countries denied their women equal rights and their societies civil liberties, irrespective of religious orientation. Critically, it appears that even ‘bastions of democracy’ within the west are unable to resist the urge to monitor citizens’ behaviour and regulate activism.
Consequently, attempts to understand the sluggish efforts to promote ‘democratic’ values on the part of Ennahda cannot be limited to a discussion of the relationship between Islam and democracy. Rather, what is necessary is a broader understanding of power conflicts within society, particularly in nascent democracies: who are the bearers of power, and how did they obtain the mandate to rule? Which segments of society provide support to the regime, and which segments threaten to challenge its authority? What tools are available to the regime to exercise its power, and how do these tools differ from those available to its predecessor?
In this context, the Ennahda party has been given a mandate to rule that is not legitimate in the long run. Operating only with the power to oversee the writing of the constitution and the ruling of the country until legitimate, long-term elections can be held, an Ennahda-led government has what is potentially an expiry date, prompting fears of a loss of power among individuals long excluded from decision-making and formerly persecuted for their beliefs under Ben Ali.
Increasingly reliant on the religious vote, Ennahda’s attempts to institutionalise its power, to promote the interests of its supporters, and to silence its opposition cannot be condoned. Nevertheless, these efforts are arguably best understood within the context of the party’s insecurity, as opposed to its identity as an Islamist party.
Moreover, the party has good reason to be insecure when considering the difficult transition period it must oversee. Charged with the task of keeping the ship afloat until Tunisians select their new captain, Ennahda has been hard pressed to combat rising inflation as the Tunisian dinar continues to depreciate.
Coupled with global increases in food prices, the devalued dinar has led to inflation of up to 300% in the case of certain foodstuffs, representing a significant deterioration in living standards in a country where food purchases constituted 35.5% of household final consumption expenditures in 2011, in comparison to 6.7% in the US and 9.4% in the UK.
Rising food prices deliver a serious economic blow in conjunction with growing unemployment; in 2012, Tunisia’s female unemployment rate represented one of the highest unemployment rates for women in the world in 2012 at 26.9% against a global average of 6.5%. Moreover, a third of the country’s unemployed are university graduates, and with estimates of 100,000 new graduates entering the job force each year by 2015, job creation fails to keep up with domestic employment demand.
Although there are signs that foreign investment is slowly returning, a full economic recovery will not be likely to happen until the country is securely in the hands of a long-term government that can ensure political, and therefore economic, stability.
Faced with the difficulty of meeting the economic and political expectations of Tunisians, Ennahda has proven ill-suited to managing the transition period. In the midst of growing societal discontent for and against its rule, the regime has been either unable or unwilling to exercise full control over actors that overstep the laws, nor has it prioritised the protection of civil liberties as promised during its election.
Yet despite its shortcomings, it is important nevertheless to examine the party’s behaviour beyond the boundaries of its Islamist identity. In attributing authoritarian characteristics solely to Islam, we not only risk misunderstanding the problem, but also relinquish the opportunity to be part of the solution.
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*Genevieve Theodorakis graduated from the LSE in December 2012 with an MSc in Global Politics, specialising in the Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa. She currently works as an analyst for a global publishing company with a focus on the Middle East and Francophone Africa. 
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