NewsNorth AfricaThousands rally in Tunisia to support equal inheritance for women

Wed,26Sep2018

Posted on Wednesday, 15 August 2018 14:52

Thousands rally in Tunisia to support equal inheritance for women

By Reuters

APThousands of women and men rallied in central Tunis on Monday (August 13) in support of President Beji Caid Essebsi's call to give women equal inheritance rights.

 

"Saying that the legal basis of the Tunisian state is religious is an error and a huge error. I propose that the equality in heritage becomes a law," he told a crowd during the celebration of women's day at Carthage presidential palace

While in the capital demonstrators expressed their support of Essebsi's call, thousands have also protested to object to any challenge to Islamic law.

"It's time to have full equality in inheritance and full liberties, We want our country to be free and we want people to live freely," said feminist association activist, Najet Gharbi, who took part in the protest backing Essebsi's call.

Tunisia is ruled by a coalition of moderate Islamists and secular forces which have been managing its democratic transition since 2011, avoiding the upheaval seen in Egypt, Libya or Syria.

They had agreed in 2014 on a constitution granting far-reaching political rights, limiting the role of religion and holding free elections, which stands out in a region often run by autocrats.

Resistance to change

But one of the few areas where the Islamists have resisted change is the inheritance law.

To break the standoff, Essebsi, a secular politician, had in August 2017 set up a committee to draft proposals to advance women's rights, winning praise from secular-minded women.

But in the face of the opposition to his proposal from conservatives, Essebsi left the door open for some exceptions, saying families who wished to continue the allocation based on Islamic law would be able to do so.

Parliament now needs to decide on a bill.

The North African Muslim country, which toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, grants women more rights than other countries in the region, and since last year has allowed Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.

But in a show of how divided society remains, thousands demonstrated on Saturday in front of parliament against any changes to inheritance rules.

The current system is based on Islamic law which typically allows men to inherit double what a woman would receive.



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