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Tunisia’s next political battle: equal inheritance rights

President Beiji Cai Essebsi’s call for a law establishing equal inheritance rights for men and women has sparked debate in Tunisia, a pioneer in women's rights in the Middle East but also a largely conservative society where most people reject contradicting Sharia.
Protesters shout slogans during a rally, demanding equal inheritance rights for women, in Tunis, Tunisia August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1BEC04FF70

TUNIS — President Beji Caid Essebsi’s proposal to make inheritance rights equal for men and women has sparked heated debate over the role of religion in public policy as Tunisia begins gearing up for presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2019.

On Aug. 13, National Women’s Day, Essebsi called on parliament to pass legislation amending the country’s inheritance law, which, as per Sharia, generally allots women half of what men receive. He added that exceptions could be made for those who opt for the application of Islamic law.

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