Revolutionary: Tunisian women can now marry non-Muslim men

Revolutionary: Tunisian women can now marry non-Muslim men

In a respite to the Muslim women living in Tunisia, the government on Thursday (14 September) announced the lifting of a decades-old ban prohibiting them from marrying non-Muslim men without mandatory conversion to Islam.

The new law comes on the heels of a push by the Tunisian president, to lift the 1973 marriage restriction aw.

Muslim women in Tunisia are now allowed to marry whomever they please - effective immediately.

In its motivations, the justice ministry wrote that the 1973 legislation went against articles 201 and 41 of the Tunisian Constitution and global agreements signed by Tunisia.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has criticised Egypt's Al-Azhar University for its "interference" in his country's internal affairs after the institution commented on the proposals for gender equality in Tunisia.

"Congratulations to the women of Tunisia in enshrining the right to choose a spouse", Saida Garrach, spokesperson for the presidency, wrote on Facebook.

The move was, however, met with strong objection from Muslim clerics.

Tunisia is viewed as being ahead of most Arab countries on women's rights, but there is still discrimination particularly in matters of inheritance.

Last month, President Essebsi made it clear that the law, derived from the Sharia granting women half men's share in inheritance, should be changed in accordance with social development.

In July, the government passed a new law to protect women from domestic violence, which was praised by Human Rights Watch as a "landmark step for women's rights".

The new law has already gone into effect.

Essebsi had formed a commission, led by a woman lawyer and rights activists, for drafting revised rules.