البهائيين فى تونس THE STATUS OF BAHA’IS IN TUNISIA


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نشر موقع الشبكة الاسلامية للدفاع عن حقوق البهائيين  هذا الموضوع

Last month Tunisian journalist Roua Khlifi began a series titled “Tunisia’s Spiritual Pluralism” about religious minorities in the country. The Baha’i community is small but significant, and came to Tunisia from Egypt about a century ago. Before 2011, Baha’is in Egypt were marginalized in significant yet subtle ways, such as denial of Baha’i teachings in schools, lack of acknowledgement of Baha’i customs and beliefs, and a general lack of social acceptance of the Baha’i community. Since the 2011 revolution in Tunisia brought in a new government, the situation for Baha’is is more unstable – there is a hope for improvement, but there also have been some setbacks.

Tunisia has yet to adopt a new constitution after the overthrow of the revolution, but the previous constitution left several things to be desired. The Baha’i faith is not recognized officially as a religion of Tunisia, and although discrimination isn’t written prima facie into the Tunisian constitution, and all faiths are supposed to be treated equally according to Article 5, there are vague articles that opened loopholes in terms of how the state can respond when it confronts a threat, or when it confronts something that threatens “security”. In addition, even in the new constitution a provision remains that states that only Muslims are allowed to be the president of Tunisia. The Tunisian government must formally recognize the Baha’i faith and address these concerns if it is to move forward.

In the struggle for religious acceptance and strong interfaith societies across the Middle East and North Africa, pervasive forms of persecution must be spotlighted alongside accounts of more brutal, obvious discrimination. Although Tunisia is not Iran, it still has room for improvement, from the microsocietal level to the macro, constitutional level. Khlifi’s article illuminates some disturbing ways in which Baha’is were discriminated against and used by the previous regime.

…Although practice of the faith is generally tolerated, members of the community reported some harassment during the former regime.

Jamal said he was called to the Ministry of Interior every few months, where authorities would question him about the Baha’i community.

“When I tried to renew my passport, they kept delaying the procedure and eventually proposed I become an informant,” he said. “Of course, I refused and with the help of some people I know, I got my passport back.”

Tunisia has yet to adopt a new constitution after the overthrow of the revolution, but the previous constitution left several things to be desired. The Baha’i faith is not recognized officially as a religion of Tunisia, and although discrimination isn’t written prima facie into the Tunisian constitution, and all faiths are supposed to be treated equally according to Article 5, there are vague articles that opened loopholes in terms of how the state can respond when it confronts a threat, or when it confronts something that threatens “security”. In addition, even in the new constitution a provision remains that states that only Muslims are allowed to be the president of Tunisia. The Tunisian government must formally recognize the Baha’i faith and address these concerns if it is to move forward.

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