Tunisian Prime Minister says Turkey model for Tunisia

Tunisian al-Nahda party Secretary-General and new Prime Minister Hammadi Cibali has said Tunisia in its own democratic transition follows the example of Turkey, which, he says, has made highly visible democratic strides over the past decade. In an interview with the Anatolia news agency, Cibali, calling Turkey an important example for Muslim countries, said that Tunisia will take Turkey's parliamentary system as a model when drafting its new constitution. Stating his hopes for the future of his country, he said that Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab awakening, will also be an example for the Arab world by following the path of Turkey. The new prime minister was already renowned in Tunisia before the revolution as an intellectual figure. Cibali pointed to a remarkable change in Tunisia after the revolution, saying that the country's intelligence service had been persecuting him for his democratic thoughts, but now works for his security. Cibali's al-Nahda party, one of the parties in new coalition government of Tunisia, is defined as a moderate Islamist party. The Tunisian prime minister mentioned the negative stance of some Tunisian secular parties against al-Nahda, being a party linked to the Tunisian religious movement. "However," he says, "al-Nahda is in no way offensive to secular people. Our main target is to remove all barriers to freedom of thought in our new constitution, for all Tunisians without any discrimination." Noting that half of the total number of deputies in the new parliament is women, Cibali said that his party is a strong supporter of women's rights. He claimed that there should be no discrimination against woman with headscarves and others, charging previous secular governments as being the real agents of discrimination by blocking political and social participation of women wearing a headscarf. Cibali emphasized that Islamic principles promote women's rights rather than contradicting them.