Islam in Tunisia
|Islam by country|
Islam is the official state religion in Tunisia. Approximately 98 percent of the population of Tunisia is nominally Muslim. Most of them are Sunni belonging to the Malikite madhhab, but a small number of Ibadhi Muslims (Kharijites) still exist among the Berber-speakers of Jerba Island. There is no reliable data on the number of practicing Muslims. There is a small indigenous Sufi Muslim community; however, there are no statistics regarding its size. Reliable sources report that many Sufis left the country shortly after independence when their religious buildings and land reverted to the Government (as did those of Orthodox Islamic foundations). Although the Sufi community is small, its tradition of mysticism permeates the practice of Islam throughout the country. During annual Ramadan festivals, Sufis provide public cultural entertainment by performing religious dances. The Constitution declares Islam the official state religion and stipulates that the President must be a Muslim.
The government controls and subsidizes mosques and pays the salaries of prayer leaders. The President appoints the Grand Mufti of the Republic. The 1988 Law on Mosques provides that only personnel appointed by the Government may lead activities in mosques and stipulates that mosques must remain closed except during prayer times and other authorized religious ceremonies, such as marriages or funerals. Police stations will often be found near mosques.. Some people maybe interrogated just for associating or being seen in the street with practising Muslims. New mosques may be built in accordance with national urban planning regulations; however, upon completion, they become the property of the Government. The Government also partially subsidizes the Jewish community.
The following religious holidays are considered national holidays: Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Fitr, Ras Al-Am El-Hejri, and Mawlid. The Government also recognizes the sanctity of non-Muslim religious holidays.
Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools, but the religious curriculum for secondary school students also includes the history of Judaism and Christianity. The Zeitouna Koranic School is part of the Government's national university system.
Generally, Shari'a-based interpretation of civil law is applied only in some family cases. Some families avoid the effects of Shari'a on inheritance by executing sales contracts between parents and children to ensure that sons and daughters receive equal shares of property.
According to the State Department's 2004 International Religious Freedom Report, referenced below, there were some reports that the Government did not allow married, interfaith couples to register the birth of their children. In these cases, couples were denied birth certificates if the mother was Christian and the father was Muslim and the parents tried to give their children non-Arabic names.