July 26, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5377

Tunisian MP Rabiaa Najlaoui: Islam Preceded Islamists And Will Continue To Exist When They Are Gone

July 26, 2013
North Africa, Tunisia | Special Dispatch No. 5377

Following are excerpts from a speech delivered at a session of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly by MP Rabiaa Najlaoui. The speech aired on Tunisia Al-Wataniyya 1 TV and was posted on the Internet on July 8, 2013:

Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV.

Rabiaa Najlaoui: "[The draft constitution] lays the foundations for a religious state, which will permit the forbidden under the guise of religion. I ask you to stop exploiting the sentiments of the Tunisians. By God, I am ashamed to see you trying to delude the people into believing that you are speaking on behalf of Islam, that you are the protectors of Islam, and that Islam will cease to exist when you are gone.

"By God, we were Muslims before you came to power, we are Muslims even without you, and we will continue to be Muslims after you are gone. If Islam is the reason that you are clinging to power – let me tell you that you can leave and be confident that Islam is fine. Islam did not collapse when the Prophet Muhammad died, and it will not collapse when you are gone.


"I'd like to make it clear: This is the constitution of the Ennahda movement, and it was shaped according to their whims and political considerations. Articles 72 and 73 are the best proof of this. To my colleagues I say: This constitution belongs to the generations to come. I ask you not to pass on your hatred and your exclusionary conduct to the generation that we hope will carry the torch and be much better than us.

"The constitution should be drafted in keeping with the international human rights treaties to which Tunisia is a signatory. We must abide by these treaties, which must be upheld by our constitution. This constitution must respect the Code of Personal Status, rather than try to render it meaningless. We, the women of Tunisia, will not allow any infringement upon our achievements, manifest in the Code of Personal Status.


"You used to denounce and yell about your exclusion during the previous regime, but since you reached power, you have been trying to exclude your political rivals. You used to protest, demanding an independent judiciary..."

Speaker of the House: "Please, your time is up."

Rabiaa Najlaoui: "...but when you reached power, you laid your hands on the judiciary, and have incarcerated citizens who had been exonerated by the courts. You used to claim that you were defending the Islamic religion, but when you reached power, you began to peddle in Islam, believing that Allah has guided no one but you."


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