This paper presents the discourse, or more often the struggle, between secularists and Islamists in Tunisia relating religion and the state within the desired democratic system. The movement of 18 October is a landmark in the efforts for constructive work between different political constituents which emphasized that the relationship between religion and the state is not expected to have a ready-made formula; instead, it is the product of a social pact that interacts with politics, culture and economics. The paper looks into the basis or foundation for cooperation, the feasibility of the merger between religion and the state, the timing – before or after democracy takes hold – the focus on form and substance of democracy, its connection to laws, etc. Whereas it may be possible to separate religion from the state, it is not possible to separate it from politics as this requires a dissociation of some devout believers from their system of belief, thus denying their basic rights. There are no guarantees that within a democratic system some groups and parties basing themselves on religion will be against democracy. These groups should remain part of the political system, the solution being to honour a social pact that is based on respecting constitutional institutions, national identity, principles of the republican system and human rights.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.