ECRL moderator attends seminar covering the democratic transition in Tunisia

“The Democratic Transition in Tunisia: Achievements and Challenges”, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, May 20, 2016.

Invited by Rached Ghannouchi, President of the Ennahdha Party in Tunisia, ECRL moderator Thomas Wipf attended the academic seminar “The Democratic Transition in Tunisia: Achievements and Challenges”, held by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, May 20, 2016. Also attending was Meherzia Labidi Maïza, ECRL Council member and former vice president of the constitution committee of Tunisia, who made the attendance of Thomas Wipf possible.

Invited to reflect on the democratic transition in Tunisia from a western perspective, Thomas Wipf appraised the endeavour to implement the achievements of the Arabic Spring as being an “island of hope”. Goal of the constitution is to institute a participatory democratic republican state that guarantees freedom of religion and the freedom to exercise a religion other than Islam. At the same time, the constitution identifies Islam as official state religion.

Although the constitution was supported widely by the population, political parties and civil society, the current situation remains unstable due to economic prospects, a strong decline of tourists visiting Tunisia and the general semblance of insecurity. In this given situation it is “encouraging to witness people taking on responsibility for the well-being of the people”, thus Wipf: “Democracy is a long-term goal, especially in countries like Tunisia lacking historic ideals and paradigms.”

The ECRL moderator emphasized the significance of inter-religious and inter-state relations. The visit of Thomas Wipf marked the aspiration to foster relations between the European Council of Religious Leaders ECRL and the Middle East and North Africa Council of Religions for Peace.