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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Tunisia lifts ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims

The decision was made on the recommendation of the president, who says Tunisia needs to modernise

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has promised to fight discrimination in the country.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has promised to fight discrimination in the country.

Tunisia has abolished a decades-old ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, the presidency said Thursday.

"Congratulations to the women of Tunisia for the enshrinement of the right to the freedom to choose one's spouse," presidency spokeswoman Saida Garrach wrote on Facebook.

The announcement comes a month after President Beji Caid Essebsi called for the government to scrap the ban dating back to 1973.

Until now a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.

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Human rights groups in the North African country had campaigned for the ban's abolition, saying it undermined the fundamental human right to choose a spouse.

However, the plan has drawn the ire of Muslim clerics, who consider marriage rules unquestionable in Islamic Shariah law, on which the Tunisian legal system is based.

The president has promised to fight discrimination in a country where a most medical, agricultural and textile workers and those with higher education are women.

Another president-led initiative, to make inheritance rules fairer to women, has not yet been decided on.

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