BEIRUT

Middle East

Hundreds of Islamists rally against new Tunisia charter

Supporters of the islamist "Liberation" Party take to the streets as they protest against the draft constitution that they consider "secular" in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Aimen Zine)

TUNIS: Hundreds of Islamists with the radical Tunisian group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which advocates establishing an Islamic "caliphate", gathered in Tunis Friday to protest against the "secular" new constitution.

The protesters waved the black and white Islamist flag, and shouted slogans, including "Down with the secular constitution!" and "Establishing Islam is obligatory, sovereignty is for the Koran and sharia (Islamic law)."

"We are announcing our rejection of this constitution which serves foreign intelligence services... We have one master, our Prophet Mohammed," one of the speakers shouted to the crowd, to the cries of "Allahu akbar! (God is greatest)".

Lawmakers on Thursday completed their line-by-line scrutiny of the text late on Thursday, after three weeks of heated debate and disagreement on a range of subjects, including the role of Islam and a ban of accusations of apostasy.

The national assembly is due to vote on adopting the long-delayed new constitution on Saturday, which would be a major step towards ending months of political crisis and would pave the way for fresh elections.

The charter needs the approval of two-thirds of the 217 assembly members to be adopted, failing which it must be put to a referendum.

The Tunisian branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir was created in the 1980s but only legalised in 2012, the year after the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a popular uprising that also opened to the door to hardline Islamist movements repressed under the secular dictator.

It calls for the sovereignty of the Ummah, or Muslim community, and legislation based on sharia law.

 

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