Tunisia MP: We should declare Ennahda ‘terrorist’ if it rolls back on Article 6

Ideology outdoes all other claims

TUNIS - Tunisia assembly member from the left-wing Popular Front, Mongi Rahoui, said that the Islamist party Ennahda should be declared “a terrorist organisation” if it seeks to change the already approved text that bans accusations of apostasy.
Rahoui said in a satirical tone that Ennahda should enshrine terrorism and extremism on the same occasion.
Article 6, which stirred debate earlier in January, has again become a focus in Tunisia National Constituent Assembly.
The measure addresses the role of religion in Tunisia and was already passed. Now, however, some assembly members are seeking to change the already approved text.
The current wording of the Article protects “freedom of conscience” and belief. An amendment was added banning takfir, a word meaning to accuse someone of being a nonbeliever. This came after a dispute between two assembly members in which an opposition member was accused of being an “enemy of Islam” by an Ennahda member.
Farida Laabidi, a member of the Ennahda party confirmed that there was support to amend the article.
“There is a petition signed by 120 assembly members to demand the amendment of this article, adding a ban on ‘insulting the sacred’ to create a balance,” she said.
Samia Abbou of the Democratic Current party, however, played down the importance of the article.
“Article 6 is overrated,” she said. “It goes without saying that all people are free in what they think and believe.” She said the most important aspect of the article is the state’s commitment to ensure the ‘neutrality of mosques.’
Article 6 tops all disappointments to many of Ennahdha’s sympathisers. Some the Ennahda supporters argue that the wording of the article, through legislating “unbound freedom”, is a threat to the Tunisian religious and social heritage.
The Higher Islamic Council and Islamic associations have mobilised to demand the revision of Article 6 and the removal of the part prohibiting charges of apostasy. In January 14, religious groups protested before the National Constituent Assembly against the article 6. Imams are seeking to include the ban on insulting religion to balance the article.
“It is necessary to remove the notion of freedom of conscience from the constitution as it reflects contrary aspects to the precepts of Islam. This notion calls for adhering to extremist movements and adopting marginal behaviours that threatens the cohesion of society and the security of the country,” read the statement of the council.
Once all articles in the constitution are finally adopted, the document as a whole must be voted on by the assembly, where a two-thirds supermajority is required for passage. If it does not attain this, the constitution must face a popular referendum, a step that many fear could derail the political process.