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Tunisia rebuffs Al-Azhar comments on call for gender equality

August 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

Tunisian women pose for a photo as they gather to celebrate Women’s Day in Tunis, Tunisia on 13 August 2017 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has criticised Egypt’s Al-Azhar University for its “interference” in his country’s internal affairs after the institution commented on the proposals for gender equality in Tunisia. Responding to Al-Azhar’s reservations, an official of the president’s Nidaa Tounes Party insisted that the internal Tunisian debate “is a healthy and required phenomenon.”

Burhan Bassis also denounced such interference by a non-Tunisian institution. He pointed out that Essebsi’s proposals are of interest to “Tunisian society only” and “no one has the right to intervene in this debate.”

On Monday, Tunisia’s Diwan Al-Ifta (Islamic Legal Opinion Office) announced its support for the president’s calls for equal inheritance rights for women. The country’s Islamic scholars said that the proposals support the status of women and guarantee the principle of equality between men and women in the rights and duties called for by Islam, as well as international conventions ratified by Tunisia.

Read: Tunisian president calls for full gender equality

On the occasion of National Women’s Day last Sunday, Essebsi announced that his country is seeking to establish equality between men and women in inheritance, and to allow Tunisian women to marry non-Muslim foreigners. He revealed that the government will be forming a committee to study the issues.