7 February 2014

Tunisia Proof Islam Compatible With Democracy, Hollande Tells Constitution Ceremony

Tunisia embodies the hope of the Arab world, François Hollande told a ceremony to adopt the country's new constitution three years after its revolution set off the Arab Spring. The new basic law shows that Islam is compatible with democracy, the French president said.

While war rages in Syria, political conflict drags on in Egypt and several other countries are struggling to realise the aspirations of the 2011 revolts, Tunisia has survived a confrontation between Islamists and secularists and now has a government of technocrats preparing for elections later this year.

"Tunisia is not an exception, it is an example," Hollande, the only European head of state present at the ceremony, declared. "You embody hope in the Arab world and beyond."

The constitution declares Islam the country's official religion but guarantees freedom of religion and equality between the sexes, proof that "Islam is compatible with democracy", according to the French president.

"Tunisia is on the right road to conclude this difficult transition," Hollande said.

France has promised to continue providing aid and officials hope to continue cooperation on the economy, security and defence, including help in combatting armed groups in the south and on the border with Libya.

France is Tunisia's most important trade partner.

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