Moncef Marzouki

Moncef Marzouki is interim President of Tunisia.

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Country of ResidenceTunisia
Date of Birth1945-07-07
Place Of BirthGrombalia
TitleHead of State

Moncef Marzouki (Arabic: المنصف المرزوقي‎, al-Munṣif al-Marzūqī, born 7 July 1945) is interim President of Tunisia. Through his career he has been a human rights activist, physician and politician. On 12 December 2011, he was elected President of Tunisia by the Constituent Assembly.

Education and early human rights activities

Born in Grombalia, Tunisia, Marzouki studied medicine at the University of Strasbourg in France. Returning to Tunisia in 1979, he founded the Center for Community Medicine in Sousse and the African Network for Prevention of Child Abuse, also joining Tunisian League for Human Rights.[1] In his youth, he had travelled to India to study Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful resistance.[2] Later, he also travelled to South Africa to study its transition from apartheid.[3]

Human rights/political career

When the government cracked down violently on the Islamist Ennahda Movement in 1991, Marzouki confronted Tunisian President Ben Ali calling on him to adhere to the law.[3] In 1993, Marzouki was a founding member of the National Committee for the Defense of Prisoners of Conscience, but he resigned after it was taken over by supporters of the government. He was arrested on several occasions on charges relating to the propagation of false news and working with banned Islamist groups. He subsequently founded the National Committee for Liberties. He became President[1] of the Arab Commission for Human Rights and as of 17 January 2011 (2011 -01-17)[ref] continues as a member of its Executive Board.[4]

In 2001, he founded the Congress for the Republic.[5][6] This was banned in 2002, but Marzouki moved to France and continued running it.[1]

Following President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's departure from Tunisia and the 2010–2011 Tunisian protests, Marzouki announced his return to Tunisia and his intention to run for the presidency.[1]

President of the Tunisian Republic

On 12 December 2011, the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, a body elected to govern the country and draft a new constitution, elected Marzouki as the interim President of the Tunisian Republic, with 155 votes for, 3 against, and 42 blank votes.[7][8] Blank votes were the result of a boycott from the opposition parties, who considered the new mini-constitution of the country an undemocratic one.

On 14 December, one day after his accession to office, he appointed Hamadi Jebali of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Movement as Prime Minister.[9] Jebali presented his government on 20 December.[10]

Support of conviction for 'insulting the sacred'

On 28 March 2012, two men were convicted of "insulting the sacred" and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. The convictions stemmed from the two men posting images online of the Prophet Muhammad having sex with one of his wives, Aisha.[11] In an interview with Al Jazeera English in May, Marzouki stated that he does not feel the convictions in the case represent a threat to civil liberties in Tunisia.[12]

Condemnation of "blasphemy" conviction

On 3 May 2012, Nessma TV owner Nabil Karoui and two others were convicted of "blasphemy" and "disturbing public order." The charges stemmed from the network's decision to broadcast a dubbed version of the 2007 Franco-Iranian film Persepolis, which includes several visual depictions of God. Karoui was fined 2,400 dinars for the broadcast, while the station's programming director and the president of the women's organization which provided dubbing for the film were fined 1,200 dinars.[13] Responding to the verdict, Marzouki stated to members of the press in the presidential palace in Tunis, "I think this verdict is bad for the image of Tunisia. Now people in the rest of the world will only be talking about this when they talk about Tunisia."[14]


  1. "Moncef Marzouki declares presidential candidacy". Al Arabiya. 16 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
  2. "Marzouki: Tunisia’s opposition stalwart turned president". 2011-12-13. Retrieved 2012-04-11.
  3. Coll, Steve. "The Casbah Coalition. Tunisia's second revolution", The New Yorker, 4 April 2011. retrieved on April 30, 2011.
  4. "What is the Arab Commission for Human Rights". 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  5. "Déclaration constitutive". Congress for the Republic. 2001-07-24. Archived from the original on 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  6. "Première liste des membres fondateurs du CPR". Congress for the Republic. Archived from the original on 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  7. "Tunisia’s assembly elects human rights activist as interim president". Washington Post. 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2011-12-12.[dead link]
  8. "Tunisian activist, Moncef Marzouki, named president". BBC News. 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
  9. Mzioudet, Houda (14 December 2011), "Ennahda’s Jebali Appointed as Tunisian Prime Minister",,, retrieved 21 December 2011
  10. Tunisian PM presents new government, AFP, 20 December,, retrieved 21 December 2011
  11. Tunisia Chief backs Conviction for Islam insult
  14. Time. 3 May 2012.