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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Tunisian Religious Minister to AT

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Noureddine Alkhadami
Tunisia - Nabil Zaghdoud

Noureddine Alkhadami Tunisia - Nabil Zaghdoud Despite the marginalization of religious affairs in the reign of toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, religious reform is an urgent national demand at the moment in Tunisia, the Minister of Religious Affairs Noureddine Alkhadami said. A proper national debate on religion can be the basis of development, and the beginning of communication between civil and political society, the Minister believes. Alkhadami stressed that there is no prejudice in the country against Christian and Jewish communities. Tunisians are not categorized on the basis of their religion. Here follows the complete text of his interview with 'Arabstoday': AT: How do you find the religious establishment in Tunisia after years of absence in the society? NA: The former government was unfair when it came to religious affairs. Al-Zaytuna Mosque was closed, Islamic sciences were banned and scholars were removed. The University of Zaytuna was marginalised as well, which prevented it from working to the required scientific standards, and it made it neglect its history. AT: What is your plan to improve that? NA: First, the religious debate shall be renewed to consolidate Islamic ??and national values. Second, it should be related to the community, the family and the individual and to the Tunisian revolution both culturally, intellectually and religiously. We cannot reform without paying more attention to the Quran. Moreover, scholars, imams and preachers shall be able to perform their role in society, something they were deprived of under the former regime. AT:  What is the role of the religious institution in the present and the future of Tunisia? NA: We aim at communicating with civil and political society, because religious affairs are a national matter. That’s why the ministry deals with all the Tunisian people equally. AT: What are the actions taken to renew mosques after they have been neglected for so long? NA: The main function of mosques is worshipping, praying, reading the Quran and giving lessons of Islamic knowledge and interpretation. The imam addresses the issues of society from a religious point of view, without a partisan or political eye. Mosques shall not be places for political propaganda. The imam preaches to all, and all are equal. AT: Is the ministry successful in keeping mosques away from politics and ideological struggle? -NA: The country is moving towards tranquillity and mosques went back to their normal role, except for some cases of disorder to be addressed with wisdom by the ministry in coordination with the parties concerned. AT: There are calls to form a “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.” What do you think of that? NA: People are free in what they say or do. They are governed by the law. AT: Some video clips spread across social networks calling to fight the government because it does not follow Allah’s will. How would you deal with such views? NA: Violence is not accepted. However, we welcome intellectual dialogues and peaceful protests. Violence can be faced by extensive discussion.  AT: What is your message to Christian and Jewish communities in Tunisia, especially as they welcomed the outcome of the elections that brought Islamists to power? -NA: Minorities in Tunisia are respected. Their political and civil rights are reserved. Tunisia is for all Tunisians, including those who are part of the Tunisian society regardless of their religion, in addition to all legal foreigners. People live in Tunisia on the basis of citizenship within the framework of rights and duties, without ethnic, sexual or religious discrimination.    

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