International Policy/United Nations

Souid Opens Lingo of Lawmaking in New Tunisia

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Karima Souid, a foreign-born deputy in Tunisia's constituent assembly, has broadened the language of lawmaking to include dialectical Arabic, the common tongue. The first of three profiles of women playing active roles in post-revolutionary Tunisia.

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'Something Wonderful'

Souid was in France when the revolution broke out in December 2010. She followed events on the Internet via social networks.

"I wasn't targeted by tear gas and I know that several died and sacrificed their lives, but something wonderful was happening," Souid said in a recent interview in a hotel in Tunis.

Although Souid was not previously active in formal politics, she said she has always cared about positive social change. When Ben Ali fled the country, Souid was overwhelmed by the hope of change and left France to go to her second country, Tunisia.

Once there, her political involvement intensified and she found herself drawn to the secularist stance of the Ettakatol party.

Souid, who is Muslim, said that religion belongs to the private sphere and that she refused to prove her religion to anyone.

France, she said, shows one side of excessive governmental intrusion in religion, where a Muslim's religiosity can be criticized. She would hate to see the opposite extreme develop in Tunisia.

"French Muslims have already been stigmatized and even more since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy and I don't want to live this again, here, in Tunisia," she said.

Souid shook off questions about any possible weakening of women's rights, enshrined in law since 1957, now that the government is led by the Islamist Ennahda party.

"It is out of the question to change the Code of Personal status and Ennahda promised not to change it," she said.

Souid expressed staunch faith in the future.

"Tunisian women has always been strong, free and sure of themselves," she said. "Today, Tunisian women are even freer because now they have acquired the right of expression."

Hajer Naili is an editorial intern for Women's eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa and specializes in Middle East and North Africa.

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"Tunisians Debate Role of Arabic Language in National Politics," Tunisia Live:
http://www.tunisia-live.net/2012/01/17/tunisians-debate-role-of-arabic-language-in-national-politics/

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