Cairo- The calls of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi for gender equality in marriage and inheritance began on Tuesday to take a regional dimension after several Arab regional institutions commented on the issue.
Essebsi had called for the abolition of a circular that banned Tunisian Muslim women from taking non-Muslim husbands and to amend inheritance laws to allow equality between male and female inheritors.
In this regard, Egypt’s Al-Azhar criticized the move.
Deputy of Al-Azhar Sheikh Abbas Shuman said equality in inheritance is “unjust for women and is not in line with Islamic Sharia.”
In a statement, Sheikh Shuman said: “The call for equality in inheritance between genders is unfair because women can already inherit more than men in certain situations.”
As an example, Shuman said a mother would receive a bigger share of her deceased daughter’s legacy, as the mother receives one-third while the brother inherits only one-sixth.
He also commented on the law to allow for marriage between a non-Muslim man and a Muslim woman, saying that such a move is not in the interests of either women or men.
“Such a marriage would obstruct the stability of marriage,” the Sheikh said.
Under the current law, a Tunisian Muslim woman is banned from marrying a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam.
In a speech marking Women’s Day on Sunday, Essebsi said he had set up a committee to look into his proposals and present a report.
On Monday, Tunisian Islamic scholars at Diwan al-Ifta issued a statement in support to the president’s proposed changes.
The scholars said that Essebsi’s proposals “support the status of women, guarantee and activate the principle of equality between men and women in the rights and duties called for by Islam,” in addition to the international conventions ratified by Tunisia in this regard.