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  • mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato


    » 06/18/2012, 00.00

    TUNISIA - ISLAM

    The Arab revolution could fail, Islam must modernise

    Bernardo Cervellera

    During the first session of the Oasis meeting in Tunis, the country's transition is the main topic of discussion. In a country recently freed from dictatorship, Salafist groups are trying to impose Sharia. Leftwing and atheist parties, which took part in the revolution, are instead trying to ensure freedom for everybody. It is urgent for Islam to be receptive to the principle of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience and protect the rights of those who do not believe. Card Scola addresses the conference. Tunisia's revolution does not depend on the West.

    Tunis (AsiaNews) - The Jasmine Revolution, whose initial spark came in Tunisia, could "fail". A solution lies in the "modernisation of Islam" and the "Islamisation of the revolution". This means that the future of Arab revolutions will depend on the room Islam will take and whether it has any place for religious minorities or atheists.

    The first session of the scientific committee of Oasis began this morning in Tunis on such a serious note. This year's topic is Religion in a society in transition. How Tunisia challenges the West.

    The word "transition" best describes what is happening in that country. After the fall of the dictator, Ben Ali, and the elections won by the Islamist party Ennahda and Salafists, Tunisians are trying to find a common path towards freedom.

    Prof Yadh Ben Achour sounded the alarm though. "If Tunisia does not meet the challenge of modernity, the revolution might fail," leading to a new dictatorship, not one based on personal power, but rather on ideology and religion.

    For Ben Achour, who is president of Tunisia's High Authority to Achieve the Revolution's Goals, the country's coalition government is split between two tendencies, a radical Islamic wing that wants to introduce Sharia, and a second one that is more open and modern.

    For instance, a few days ago, the authorities moved against some radical imams who in their sermons called for the application of Islamic rules in courts (cutting off legs, feet and more) in the case of common crimes. By contrast, they did nothing to stop Salafists when they attacked an art exhibit and burnt some "blasphemous" works by self-styled "atheist" painters and artists.

    In Tunisia, civil society can play an important role in countering radical trends. This is especially true for leftwing opposition groups and trade unions, which led the resistance to the Ben Ali's regime, and carried out the revolution, along with the Ennahda.

    In his address, Prof Ben Achour noted that during a 2005 hunger strike organised by Ennahda and the left, the two sides agreed on a number of issues concerning the state, women's rights and citizenship. This allowed Ennahda to move "towards democracy" and helped leftwing parties to accept some demands made about Islam.

    The strength of civil society explains why Islam will be recognised as "state religion" in Tunisia's constitution, but the country's legal system will not be based on the Sharia (a point Ennahda Chief Rachid Gannouchi also accepts). This is not the case in almost all other Middle Eastern countries.

    According to Tunisian-born Harvard Prof Malika Zeghal, coexistence can be based on a balance and the country's past is a source for such optimism.

    During the rule of Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourghiba, Islam was a point of reference, but personal freedoms were protected in law and equal rights guaranteed for men and women. Such a balance could be favoured by a "pragmatic compromise" that might lower current tensions. However, more work needs to be done on its foundations.

    For Ben Achour, something is needed before all else. Islam must defend freedom of religion, especially freedom of conscience, and this means the possibility for anyone to have no religion (atheism) or change religion.

    Without it, Tunisia could slide towards a theocratic state that limits personal freedoms and cuts itself off from its own rich culture, which includes poets and philosophers critical of an Islamic religion reduced to a collection of codified laws.

    Card Angelo Scola, president of the Oasis Foundation, opened the morning session with his greetings and address via video linkup since he could not be in Tunis.

    In his speech, the archbishop of Milan said that the West must consider the failures of secularisation. In fact, the sacred is making a comeback and this has made it necessary to revitalise freedom of religion, which is the foundation of all freedoms. For Card Scola, space for religions, as a basis for individual dignity, is an area in which Christians and Muslims can work together.   

    Modern society defined by openness to man and religion is not the same as today's society. Indeed, Ben Achour and Zeghal criticised the West for holding back the "Jasmine Revolution" and backing the ruling dictator whilst making noises about "Western democracy".

    Tunisia's revolution was not influenced by the West, Ben Achour noted. It is an entirely "indigenous" phenomenon. It shows that human beings were created for freedom and that they can sacrifice themselves in their struggle against dictatorships that humiliate and corrupt.

    "There is no American plot" behind the Tunisian revolution, Zeghal said, "only the work of Tunisians. For this reason, a compromise among the revolution's various strands will succeed because that is what Tunisians want."

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    See also

    18/03/2015 TUNISIA - ISLAM
    Terrorists attack Tunis museum, killing at least eight, taking dozens of hostages
    Dressed in army fatigues, the gunmen took dozens of hostages in the Bardo Museum, including Italians, Spaniards, French and other foreigners. All but one of the victims are European. The terrorists are thought to belong to the Islamic State group.

    19/06/2012 TUNISIA - ISLAM
    Marzouki at Oasis: Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists, all brothers in Tunisia
    The Tunisian president reiterates the point that freedom of conscience is the basis of the Jasmine Revolution in his country. This means the right to change religion or have none at all. The transition is difficult in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Arabian Peninsula and Morocco. In such places, conversion and baptism are prevented by fear of what consequences they might entail. However, the Arab revolution has changed people's mindset, carving greater space for the individual rather than the 'Ummah'. The West has failed to understand what is taking place.

    22/06/2009 VATICAN – ISLAM
    Progress between Christians and Muslims but problems in Saudi Arabia, says Cardinal Tauran
    The president of the Pontifical Council for interreligious Dialogue highlights an improved atmosphere and greater trust in Muslim-Catholic relations, also after Benedict XVI’s trip to the Holy Land. Problems do remain, including the right of Muslims to convert and the possibility to have Christian places of worship in the Saudi kingdom. Oasis conference focuses on tradition and dialogue between religions and cultures. Issues touched include the US, French and British cases, the development of Islam in given nations, and the move away from literalism in Qur’anic exegesis.

    22/06/2006 ISLAM – EGYPT
    Islam, the West, human rights and democracy
    Europe must get rid of its secularist and falsely neutral view of religion; Islam must rid itself of its fundamentalism which holds back its development and drives it towards religious wars; the Arab world is in turmoil: a reportage on the conference organised by the scientific committee of the Oasis journal in Egypt.

    16/06/2012 TUNISIA - ISLAM
    Oasis in Tunisia: the unfinished revolution and its future
    Tunisia, the most secularized Arab country, after the success of "Jasmine Revolution", is facing the danger of Salafi Islam, also bankrolled by al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The struggle between different kinds of Islam and the place that religion should have in a modern and pluralistic society. The concerns of Christian minorities. The pragmatism of the West.



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