Religion and Government
How much should religion and government interact? This issue plays out in the small North African country of Tunisia, a majority Islamic country where I lived from 1997 to 2000.
Tunisians began the “Arab spring” by ousting their secularist dictator little more than a year ago. In January they held their first fair election in years. A mildly Islamist party won the majority of the vote.
The leader of the new government, Hamadi Jebali, spent years in prison for his opposition to the government of dictator Ben Ali, much of it in harsh solitary confinement. Now he’s the popularly elected head of the Tunisian government.
Tunisia has a large, educated middle class, many of whom have made plain that they do not want repressive religious laws. Jebali has indicated his understanding of their apprehension. His party has formed the current government with two secularist parties.
The results in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Libya, and other countries of North Africa and the Middle East follow the ouster of regimes which were secular but often brutal against their opponents. Now that more power is assumed by the people, how will democracy and religion play their roles?
Some American Christians desire more religion in their government. How will church and state in this country compare to mosque and state in Tunisia?