Five men have been arrested in two Tunisian cities in recent weeks for breaking the Ramadan fast. Some are calling the arrests a violation of human rights and the imposition of religious tyranny. But John Spacapan of the American Enterprise Institute thinks it might be a positive indicator of judicial independence:
The legal dispute over these arrests arises from a paradox in the Tunisian constitution: while the constitution ensures protection from religious persecution, Article 6 makes the government “the guardian of religion.” Local courts used this clause to justify jail sentences for violating Ramadan. The limit on this kind of action lies, in part, in the Tunisian judiciary and the ability of secularists to appeal the interpretation of Article 6, a path to a precedent-setting ruling by Tunisia’s Supreme Court. In other words, an independent judiciary could be the key to establish the precedent of religious freedom essential to deepen the roots of Tunisia’s democracy.
The full article is an interesting read, and recommended.