The End of Tunisia: Has the State Abandoned Islam?

A few months ago I mentioned in an article how Algeria is the most French of all the countries within the Maghreb region. People complained, saying it was apparently Tunisia and not Algeria.

Here I must admit that my being French may have influenced my response. It is true that, at the political and historical level, Algeria’s trajectory is very similar to France’s post-revolution. But when it comes to morals and values, Tunisia is constantly becoming increasingly “frenchier.”

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As an example of this trend, just last week the Tunisian government presented its new draft constitution which is due to be elected this July.

ArabNews reports:

Tunisian President Kais Saied confirmed Tuesday that a draft constitution to be put to a referendum on July 25 will not enshrine Islam as the “religion of the state.”

“The next constitution of Tunisia won’t mention a state with Islam as its religion, but of belonging to an umma (community) which has Islam as its religion,” he told journalists at Tunis airport.

“The umma and the state are two different things.”

Saied took delivery of the draft text on Monday, a key step in his drive to overhaul the Tunisian state after he sacked the government and seized far-reaching powers last July in moves opponents called a coup.

Western countries rejoiced at the fact that this constitution does not mention Islam as Tunisia’s state religion. This technically renders Tunisia a secular state despite acknowledging that Islam is the nation’s religion.

"Tunisia abandons Islam as the state religion in its new constitution. A first in Arab countries."
“Tunisia abandons Islam as the state religion in its new constitution. A first in Arab countries.”

Some nationalists tried to defend this reform, saying that Tunisia has not denied Islam in any sort of absolute sense and that they are still part of the Ummah.

“FAKE NEWS – Tunisia is not becoming secular at all. A draft constitution that does not quote the word Islam will be presented because Islam will be the religion of the nation, not the state.”

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As usual, these folks are deluded, and they indirectly encourage the liberalization of the Muslim world. To deny Islam as the legal religion of the country is a way to deny the jurisprudential core of the din. It is a way to reduce our faith to a bunch of values which have no practical reality.

Can these reformers explain what “religion of the nation” means exactly?

And why differentiate in the first place?

When a state officially recognizes a religion, it implies the submission of political power to that faith. It also means discrimination against those who do not belong to that religion.

RELATED: Yeah, There Is No Free Speech in Islam, But Secularism Needs Brutal Censorship to Survive

According to liberal sensitivities, submission and discrimination are both heresy, yet they are two essential aspects of the shari’ah of Islam.

What does it say about Tunisia that the State wishes to be ambiguous on these matters? And what does this mean for the country’s future?

It would be naive to think that they changed the constitution without any ulterior motives. If the proposed constitution is voted in next month, be prepared to see all kinds of anti-shari’ah policies spread within the land of Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani.

Tunisians need to strongly oppose this new constitution immediately – before it is too late.

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Tunisia is right now probably more extremist in secularism than Turkey was in the 80s, and I’m talking about the sentiments of the population, not just the elite ruling class.

Besides that, all the rulers of the oil rich gulf states want to see this experiment go through successfully, and they have invested in it heavily.

For all practical intents and purposes, I don’t think the new Tunisia will be any different than UAE or Saudi for the most part.


Tunisia has never been as extreme as Turkey…even right now. Tunisian secularism is more expressed through indifference (which is very dangerous as well) while Turkish secularism is super aggressive and hostile. Tunisians also lack the ultranationalism (and ultra-leftism) which Turkey is known for. In Turkey you can mock Islam openly and nothing will happen. Do the same in Tunisia and you very well might have a serious problem on your hands.


You’re talking about ruling elites and the state machinery. I’m talking about the average guy on the street. In that regard, as an overall population, right now Turks have more religious cognizance than Tunisians, and the Tunisians have more than the GCC population youth who are liberal secularist for the most part. However, the older generation (age 45 and up) of the GCC is still decent but they can’t propagate their views lest they want to be incarcerated.


Don’t forget, according to eschatological narrations, Istanbul will be RE-conquered during the time of the Mahdi and ‘Isa ‘alaihis salam with just three screams of Allahu Akbar. That can’t be the case unless the population already has Islamic cognizance.


Who says that population/group is going to be Turkish by that time? Turkish birth rates are dropping very fast because they are westernizing.


Absolutely disagree with this. Even on the laymen level Tunisians are more religious than Turks on average. Turkey has a huge population of people who are openly atheist or agnostic, Nusayri/Alevi or otherwise non Muslim. Roughly 20 to 25%. Than you have roughly 45% who are non-practising/secular Muslims. Observant Muslims make up 20 to max. 30% of the population. And is decreasing. People who practise and have the right aqeedah are probably 5% or less. It’s a tiny group.


That’s utter nonsense your numbers, and because I don’t have the time or space to argue in this constrained comments section, I’ll let it slide.

I’m neither Turkish nor North African, so don’t have any bias and have lived in enough Muslim nations.

I can assure you at the layman level nothing is more liberal and secular than the GCC, and the rest of the Arab and Muslim world is not much different than Turkey or vice versa.

Ulugbek Bahrom

I wanted to explore Maghrib countries because of their uniqueness in Muslim world (obviously, every region is unique in some way). However, your posts about what kinda things have been going on there made me think “Is it worth it? Do I really wanna see Muslim countries with ‘French democracy and swcularism’?” I would probably say no.

Yusuf ibn Tashfin

Morocco or Algeria still have a very religious population compared to Tunisia.
There are absolutely no french values among the common people in Morocco or Algeria (only in a minority who is mostly elitist).


Tunisia has effectively been secular since Habbi Bourguiba took office in 1957. Which is very apparent in the morals of the populace. Tunisians are easily the most liberal people in the Arab world….with exception of the Lebanese (due to their large Christian population). Which is interesting if you compare them to the Libyans, who ethnically, linguistically, culturally and religiously are the exact same people (or at least highly similar). Libyans are easily one of the most conservative people

Yusuf ibn Tashfin

In Morocco despite the population being religiously devoted, the media portrays shows, series and movies were young people aren’t religious, party in clubs, gender mixing, young women never wear hijab and the only women who wear it are elderly women and maids who tend to be casually always dumb! ; basically the ones that control the media are trying hard to brainwash the young moroccan population into having lifestyles similar to the one young people in western countries have….

Yusuf ibn Tashfin

What can be done about this? Most people are sleeping while their kids get brainwashed left and right….