Constitutional identity or constitutional rights? Islamic constitutionalism and the rights of gays and freethinkers in Egypt and Tunisia

My presentation will focus on Islamic constitutionalism and on the relation between religion and the protection of individual liberties potentially clashing with shari’a and the Islamic ethos. After outlining the main characteristics of Islamic constitutionalism (with particular reference to the cases of Egypt and Tunisia), I will concentrate on the rights of homosexuals and freethinkers (apostates, heretics, blasphemers). Drawing from legislation and case law from Egypt and Tunisia, I will argue that the persecution of gays and freethinkers follow similar patterns: the same vague legal concepts, interpreted under a religious light, are used in both cases; and the same constitutional and international guarantees protect both categories. Overall, I will argue that a religious Grundnorm is hardly compatible with the primacy of a human-made constitution and with the full recognition of equal and inalienable individual rights that is central to the constitutional mission.