Tunisia Live (Tunis)

16 April 2012

Tunisia: Non-Profit Petitions for the Inclusion of Animal Rights in the Constitution

The Tunis-based Mediterranean Fauna and Flora Club (MFFC) is lobbying to incorporate animal rights in the Tunisian Constitution.

In an attempt to exert pressure on Constituent Assembly members, the association will be staging a protest on April 22 at 10:30am in front of the seat of the National Constituent Assembly.

In a statement released by the association and signed by its president Adib Samoud, the MFFC argued that mercy in Islam expands to all living creatures, and that the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights stipulates that every animal deserves respect. It noted that these principles are not respected in Tunisia.

"The idea for the protest was proposed by several people who approached us, following the brutal way rabid dogs were killed. This protest also aims at opening people's eyes," said Olfa Abid, a veterinarian and secretary-general of MFFC.

The animal rights association adopted the slogan, "Animals cannot defend themselves, lets demand rights that would protect them!!! Sign for them!!!"

Abid declared that some people told them that now is not the time to deal with this kind of issue, as there are more pressing matters - like unemployment and violations of human rights - that have not yet been solved. She explained that their goal is to find long-term solutions that will solve cruelty against animals - something Abid considers to be a serious matter. "Animals are greatly neglected in Tunisia. They are treated like a commodity," asserted Abid.

The MFFC called for all concerned associations and organizations to open the debate in order to ensure the rights of animals, and find solutions that will guarantee the respect of animals for the long term.

The association intends to lead awareness campaigns that aim to save endangered species, fight zoonosis (diseases that impact only animals), and put an end to the proliferation of stray dogs and cats by starting regular control campaigns of sterilization, outreach and vaccination.

So far, over 2,000 people have signed the petition, posted online on April 4, 2012. According to Abid, another petition was sent to 5,000 veterinarians - the sorting of the signatures for this petition will start on May 15.

The Mediterranean Fauna and Flora Club received its official license in June 2011. The club began its activities in 2005 with a campaign named, "Let's Save Donkeys," led by veterinarians who wanted to use their leftover drugs to treat donkeys.

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