'Death threat' halts Tunisia constitution debate

2014-01-06 10:40
AFP

AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tunis - Debate on Tunisia's new constitution was suspended for several hours Sunday after a deputy claimed he had received death threats because a colleague accused him of being an "enemy of Islam".

The upshot of the raucous proceedings was that opposition members of the National Constituent Assembly eventually forced a successful revote on a proposed amendment that would make it unlawful to accuse someone of apostacy.

The death threats claim came a day after the NCA adopted articles making Islam the state religion but guaranteeing freedom of conscience.

Mongi Rahoui, of the leftwing Popular Front, accused Habib Ellouze of the Islamist ruling party Ennahda of calling him an enemy of Islam.

Such words are not taken lightly in Tunisia, where the suspected assassination by militant Salafist Muslims last year of two opposition politicians plunged the country into a political crisis that has still not been resolved.

The interior ministry said threats against Rahoui and two other people had been made on Facebook and that it was taking steps to protect them.

"The ministry has taken all security precautions to ensure the security of the parties and opened an investigation to determine the seriousness of the threats," a statement said.

Addressing Ellouze, a hardline Ennahda member known for inflammatory comments, Rahoui asked: "How much more blood must there be before we understand that we are united [under Islam]?

"I tell you that I am a Muslim; that my father, my mother, my grandfather and my people are Muslims.

Electoral commission

"What [Ellouze] said yesterday, that I am an enemy of Islam, has lead to death threats against me."

Ellouze had been quoted by a radio station Saturday as saying Rahoui is "known for his animosity toward religion".

He said his words had been misinterpreted and apologised to Rahoui.

A number of secular opposition deputies angrily protested that such words could spell the same fate for Rahoui as befell Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi last year.

Ennahda's detractors accused the moderate Islamist party of failing to rein in the Salafist militants.

Following the exchange between Rahoui and Ellouze, deputies demanded a revote on the apostacy amendment, which was rejected Saturday.

After being suspended twice, deliberations resumed late afternoon, a new vote was taken and the amendment was approved by 131 of 182 people voting.

But its adoption drew fire from a civil rights group, which argued that it was an attack on free speech and opened the door to other such measures.

"Tunisian deputies, from the Islamist camp to the democratic camp, voted today against freedom of speech," argued Amira Yahyaoui, president of Al-Bawsala, a group that monitors issues of political transparency.

Deputies were later set to discuss forming an electoral commission to oversee elections this year.

Elected in October 2011, the NCA had been due to have drafted and adopted the text within one year.

Repeated disruptions

But its work was delayed by deep divisions between Ennahda and the opposition, aggravated by a rise in Islamist attacks and sometimes violent social unrest.

Voting on the constitution comes amid concerns that a 14 January deadline for its adoption may not be met because of repeated disruptions.

It was on 14 January 2011, that ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family fled the country for exile in Saudi Arabia.

To be adopted, the constitution will need approval by two-thirds of the assembly's 217 members. Otherwise, it will have to be put to a referendum.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has agreed to resign, handing power to a transitional premier, Mohamed Jomaa, but insists that the constitution and an electoral law be in place first to pave the way for elections.

The powerful UGTT trade union, which has been mediating in the crisis, is insisting that Larayedh step down by Thursday at the latest.

Its officials are scheduled to meet both Larayedh and Jomaa on Monday.

Read more on:    tunisia  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

13 summer safety tips

Summer time and the burning is easy. Get some great tips to ensure sunburn doesn't spoil your holiday!

 
 

I love summer.24

This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays
This man's reaction to his Christmas present is priceless!
LOL! Cats destroying Christmas trees
Great tips for surviving the holidays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may feel more sensitive than usual and there may be something or someone blocking the flow of things. There is a strong desire...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.