Tunis- Clerics in Tunisia on Thursday voiced opposition to President Beji Caid Essebsi’s plan to introduce legislation granting equal inheritance rights to women, considering it contradictory to Islamic precepts.
Essebsi has announced the formation of a commission to examine “individual liberties” and “equality in all domains”, including inheritance rights.
The secular leader also called for the government to scrap a 1973 circular that prevents Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims.
According to Agence France Presse, prayer leaders from across the North African state said in a statement issued jointly with experts in sharia Islamic law that the proposals amount to “a flagrant violation of the precepts” of Islam.
“Inheritance in Islam is clearly explained in the Koran… it can neither be modified nor interpreted,” a former religious affairs minister, Noureddine Khadmi, told a news conference.
A former Tunisian mufti, Hamda Said, criticized what he termed proposals that would put an end to “a 1,400-year consensus”.
“It’s like saying God has been unjust with women, something that is completely false as there are many cases of women inheriting more than men,” said Fatma Chakout, a female lecturer at the Islamic University of Ez-Zitouna.
Sheikh Abdullah el-Oussif, a doctor in Islamic sciences, said the president’s proposals posed a “danger” because they risked dividing society in post-revolutionary Tunisia at a time when the country needed unity.