Cross-posted on the Corner:
The Daily Telegraph reports:
A key proposal by Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party to outlaw blasphemy in the new constitution, stoking fears of creeping Islamisation, is to be dropped from the final text. 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, due to 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,” said speaker Mustapha Ben Jafaar, the 72-year-old speaker of the National Constituent Assembly, said to AFP.
“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.
The plan to criminalise attacks on religious values sparked an outcry when it was first announced by the Islamists in July, with the media and civil society groups warning that it would result in new restrictions on freedom of expression.