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February 14, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5186

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki Justifies Constitution: It Is a Compromise with the Islamists

February 14, 2013
North Africa, Tunisia | Special Dispatch No. 5186

Following are excerpts from an interview with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, which aired on the Al-Jazeera network (via the Internet) on February 9, 2013.

Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV.

Moncef Marzouki: "Everybody knows what the red lines are for the other party. So I do know that… Let me give an example… I am against the death penalty. When I arrived here, in this palace, I found a list of 220 people who were sentenced to death, and Ben Ali didn’t dare to execute them, nor to release them. I said: Look, we will never have the death penalty here in Tunisia de facto, but I know that this is a red line for the Islamists.

"I cannot put this in the constitution. So they know that I will never accept the death penalty here in Tunisia – they were not asking for people to be hanged, and so forth – but neither can I ask to put in the constitution that the death penalty is prohibited in Tunisia.

"This is the way we are reaching this consensus. I know where your red line is, and you know where my red line is, and we try to reach a consensus that will be acceptable to both parties.

"For women’s rights also, the same thing goes. Of course I would like for us to write in the constitution that equality between man and woman is total and complete, but you cannot write this down in the constitution, because it would mean that Tunisian women would be able to marry Christians or Jews, and so forth. This would be a problem.

"So we would write down in the constitution that equality is the principle of the relationship between man and woman.

"We stop there. They understand what I mean, and I understand what they mean. If every political party would impose its point of view, then it would collapse."

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