Religion in the Tunisian Constitution
Despite the growing prominence and influence of Tunisia’s Islamist organizations and parties in the political system, the newly created constitution is still remarkably pluralistic and secular. The 2014 constitution emphasizes the country’s Islamic ties and heritage, it but does not establish sharia as a source of legislation and leaves room for diversity of opinion and religious practice. Much of this is due to Ennahda’s role in shaping and drafting the Constitution and the group’s insistence that Islamic law would not be the determining legislative authority for Tunisia. Article 1 establishes Islam as the state religion and Arabic as the official language. Article 6 establishes the state as the guardian of religion and provides for freedom of religion, “conscience and belief,” prohibiting violence and extremism in the name of religion and promoting “the values of moderation and tolerance.” Furthermore, it emphasizes the neutrality and non-partisanships of mosques and other religious “places of worship.” Article 21 establishes equality for all citizens under the law, while Article 31 guarantees freedom of “opinion, thought, expression, information and publication” and prohibits censorship, in direct contrast with the policies of the Ben Ali and Bourguiba regimes. Article 39 discusses the role of the state in providing education that enhances “Arab-Muslim identity and national belonging in young generations,” while also providing for secular education. The state is responsible for freedom of creative expression and cultural identity, the promotion of tolerance and inclusion, and “rejection of violence,” according to Article 42. Article 74 mandates that candidates for the presidency, both male and female, be Muslim in order to be able to run for election. Article 78 gives the president the authority to appoint and dismiss the grand mufti, the highest ranked religious official in the country.