May 22, 2018

Tunisia scraps ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims

17 September 2017, 10:40 | Lena Norman

Dragon Oil Limited is registered in the Bermuda Companies Register

Dragon Oil Limited is registered in the Bermuda Companies Register

Tunisian Parliament has voted to allow women in the nation to marry non-Muslim men, overturning a law enacted in 1973.

The new law comes after President Essebsi pushed for the lifting of the marriage restriction decree that was put in place in 1973.

While making the announcement, the president's spokeswoman congratulated her country women for gaining "the freedom to choose one's spouse".

Until now a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.

Tunisian women will now be allowed to marry men regardless of their religion.

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While the President's move has been hailed as progressive, some Tunisians have expressed their misgivings about the new order, saying it is in contravention of the Islamic Law.

Muslim women in Tunisia are now allowed to marry whomever they please - effective immediately.

Mainstream Muslim clerics nearly universally see the inheritance rules as enshrined in the Quran, Islam's holy book, and consider the rules on marriage to be equally unquestionable in Shariah. Human rights campaigners in Tunisia have often protested against this inequality, arguing that it undermines the basic human right to choose a spouse.

The first president of independent Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, championed a social code in 1956 that banned polygamy and granting rights to women unheard of in the Arab world at the time. Earlier this year, the country passed a law protecting women against gender-based violence. Since independence, Tunisian men, by law, receive double of a female sibling's share of an inheritance.

Essebsi had formed a commission, led by a woman lawyer and rights activists, for drafting revised rules.

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