Tunisia: New Constitution Not Based on Sharia

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Tunisia's ruling party said Islamic Sharia law will not be enshrined in the country's new constitution.

The ruling Islamist Ennahda party said it would preserve the secular basis of the North African nation, basing the language of the new constitution on the existing one, which names Islam as the state religion and Arabic as its language.

The decision marks a break between moderate Islamic leadership and the hardline Salafi Muslims, who have been demanding that Sharia form the base of the new constitution.

Tunisians overthrew their dictatorship in a popular uprising last year, the first in the so-called Arab Spring, which led to revolutions across the Middle East.

Sharia is applied in many other Muslim countries, including Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist al-Nour party hold 70 percent of the seats in parliament.

Parliamentarian Emad Gad, a member of Egypt's Social Democratic Party, said "they [the Islamic parliamentarians] are trying to write a religious constitution," The New York Times reported. "They are controlling everything. We can do nothing."

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