Roundtable :: Tunisian Inheritance Law Reform

Katarzyna Sidło (Center for Social and Economic Research) organized a PIL Forum Roundtable on the Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi’s 2017 proposal to amend inheritance laws. She introduces the Roundtable by noting that, under the country’s current Personal Status Code – passed in 1956 – Tunisian citizens may not “allocate their inheritance freely and must follow” the inheritance divisions elaborated by Muslims jurists based on the Qurʾān (4:11-14) and sunna (reports of the prophetic example). The proposed amendment, if passed by parliament, will allow Tunisians choice: equal shares of inheritance between male and female heirs would become the default rule, from which those wishing to follow traditional Islamic legal rulings could opt out.

Below are two of the selected pieces from the Roundtable. Scholars may apply for full access to the Forum to read and participate in the full round table. Email

By Katarzyna W. SidłoPolitical Economist, Center for Social and Economic Research
“In light of this data, the claim that women can and do always rely on men in their families to support them and do not need to contribute to their own maintenance is questionable. As such, so is the argument that they are in a lesser need of financial resources than men and not discriminated against when they inherit half of what their brothers do.”


By Mohammad FadelProfessor of LawUniversity of Toronto Faculty of Law
“While the new law, if implemented, may not make a substantial tangible difference in people’s lives – especially given the ease with which ordinary Tunisians can continue to adhere to the previous inheritance law, regardless of the final form of the legislation – it does raise thorny theoretical questions about the nature of the Tunisian state, and the meaning of Islamic law in the modern world.”