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Cablegate: Bishop of Tunis On Religious Freedom

VZCZCXYZ0018
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTU #0800 3031637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301637Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6925
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TUNIS 000800

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR DRL/IRF AND NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF TS
SUBJECT: BISHOP OF TUNIS ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

1. (SBU) Underlining the October 26 release of the
Department's 2009 International Religious Freedom Report, the
Ambassador used the occasion of an October 27 meeting with
Monsignor Maroun Lahham, (Roman Catholic) Bishop of Tunis, to
seek the prelate's views on religious freedom in Tunisia.
Lahham, who was familiar with the report, praised Tunisia as
having a tolerant, enlightened, intellectual society in which
the Christian minority is respected and protected.

2. (SBU) Bishop Lahham noted that while proseltyzing is
forbidden by law, conversion to Christianity is not illegal
and Tunisian converts have not encountered any harassment
from the GOT. (Note: Unlike other states in the region,
Tunisian identity cards do not include religion as a
category, so the potentially problematic question of
ammending them does not arise. End note.)

3. (SBU) Bishop Lahham said that the church in Tunisia was
working on registering its properties with civil authorities.
While this issue was not pressing, he worried that, in the
event the Tunisian state took on a more rigid Islamist
character, church properties might be vulnerable to
confiscation.
GRAY

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