No Blasphemy Clause in New Tunisia Constitution

October 12, 2012

From the Daily Star:

A key proposal by Tunisia's ruling Islamist party to outlaw blasphemy in the new constitution, which stoked fears of creeping Islamisation, is to be dropped from the final text, Assembly speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar told AFP.

The agreement to drop the clause follows negotiations between the three parties in the ruling coalition and must still be approved by the committees drafting the constitution, which Jaafar said would be debated by parliament next month.

It comes after President Moncef Marzouki warned that radical Islamist militants pose a "great danger" to the Maghreb region, and following a wave of violent attacks -- blamed on Salafists -- on targets ranging from works of art to the US embassy.

"There will certainly be no criminalisation," Jaafar, the 72-year-old speaker of the National Constituent Assembly, said in an exclusive interview. "That is not because we have agreed to (allow) attacks on the sacred, but because the sacred is something very, very difficult to define. Its boundaries are blurred and one could interpret it in one way or another, in an exaggerated way," he added.

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