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Tunisia overturns decades-old ban on women marrying non-Muslims

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Tunisia overturns decades-old ban on women marrying non-Muslims
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Tunisia has lifted a decades-old law that banned Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims.

The announcement on Thursday (September 14) comes just weeks after President Beji Caid Essebsi called on the government to end the 1973 decree.

In a speech during National Women’s Day, the president said the marriage law was “an obstacle to the freedom of choice of the spouse”

He also argued that it violated the 2014 constitution adopted in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising.

“Congratulations to the women of Tunisia in enshrining the right to choose a spouse,” presidency spokeswoman Saida Garrach wrote on Facebook.

Before the ban was lifted if a non-Muslim man wanted to marry a Tunisian woman he was required to convert to Islam.

Local human rights groups have long campaigned for the abolition of the decree.

Tunisia is viewed as one of the most progressive Arab countries in terms of women’s rights.

The repeal of the marriage decree follows the abolition in July of a clause allowing rapists to escape any punishment if they married their victims.

However, despite the progress, women in Tunisia still face discrimination with issues including pay gaps, workplace discrimination and inheritance protocols under which women receive only half of what men do.