Religious Freedom in Tunisia
The second draft of the Tunisian constitution, released in December 2012, includes a number of improvements in terms of freedom of expression, as well as rights granted to women and religious minorities. Leaders are acutely aware that their treatment of non-Muslim Tunisians affects the state’s credibility. To this end, in December 2011, President Moncef Marzuki called all Jews who fled Tunisia to return and his government strongly condemned a January 2012 demonstration of ultraconservative Salafists that called for the extermination of Jews. In June 2012, a Tunisian court upheld the conviction and imprisonment of a man who published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad being intimate with one of his wives, reigniting political debate concerning the inclusion of sharia as a source of Tunisian law in the new constitution. While Tunisia's government has publicly stated that Sharia law will not be a source for Tunisian law, it remains to be seen what the laws set up by the previous regime will remain in place under the post-revolution government. Many of these laws involved significant state regulation of Islamic religious practices as well as of minority faiths. Traditional Islamic dress was prohibited in state offices and universities. Conversion from Islam was permitted, but converts have reported instances of government discrimination, and proselytizing aimed at Muslims is forbidden. The government did not recognize marriages of Muslim women to non-Muslim men. Judaism represents Tunisia’s second largest religious minority after its 25,000 largely Catholic Christians, with a population of approximately 1,500. The government partially subsidized the Jewish community and paid the salary of Tunisia’s Grand Rabbi, as it did for all the country’s religious leaders.