In Tunisia, Former Minister of Religious Affairs Nourreddine Khadmi dismissed after allowing live broadcast of Eid prayer on Jazeera
From an Al-Jazeera report August 12:
“Tunisia has banned a number of imams, including a former minister of religious affairs, from preaching in mosques for reasons related to their political views, accusations of promoting extremism or for a specific action they took, Al-Jazeera reported on 12 August.
Dismissal of the former Minister of Religious Affairs Nourreddine Khadmi from his work as an imam deepened fears over the Tunisian government’s handling of the religious question.
Khadmi will no longer be the imam at Al-Fatih mosque in the Tunisian capital, according to Al-Jazeera correspondent in Tunis, Lotfi Hajji.
The former minister considered his dismissal an “arbitrary” decision that contradicts with the ministry’s rules and the needed reforms to combat terrorism.
Tunisia is supposed to be on a path to “benefit from people with scientific and religious expertise”, Khadmi told Al-Jazeera.
This should happen on two levels. The first one is “to combat terrorism using a comprehensive approach, including religious aspects”, he said.
The other level, he added, has to do with structural and legal reform of the Ministry of Religious Affairs to better the delivery of its message.
The ministry said Khadmi was dismissed on the grounds that he did not take official permission before allowing the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Mubashir to provide a live broadcast of the Id prayer from Al-Fatih mosque last month.
The ministry did not cite any of Khadmi’s declared positions as a ground for his dismissal.
The council of unions of Tunisian imams criticised the ministry’s decision, saying “it carries out a dangerous agenda”.
Chihabeddine Tliche, one of the dismissed imams, said in a news conference that “the ministry has an agenda that has become clear now”.
Standing behind this agenda, Tliche said, are people from certain “parties with an ideology that begrudge the revolution and the current freedom of religion”.
Experts criticize the government’s “simplistic” approach to the complicated religious question, saying it requires a far-reaching reform of the religious discourse, not confined to the dismissal of imams.
Ahmida Nifer, a Tunisian professor of Islamic thought, told Al-Jazeera “hastily”-sought out solutions could be “counterproductive”.
The country needs “a discourse that reaches out to people and helps them understand Islam and the meaning of a humanitarian, open religious discourse”, Nifer said.”