Under the existing rules, Muslim men in Tunisia were allowed to marry women from outside the religion without the woman having to undergo any conversion, but the same right did not apply to Muslim Tunisian women when they married non-Muslim men.
President Beji Caid Essebsi had reportedly called for the government to bring in the change to ensure equal rights to women in choosing their life partners. He argued that the change will be in accordance to the country's new constitution that came into force in 2014.However, the country's leading imams and theologians issued a statement denouncing the move and calling it a "flagrant violation of the precepts" of Islam, Al Jazeera reported.
The change reportedly came after years of demands from several human rights groups in the North African nation, which is believed to be ahead of other Arab countries that have discriminatory rules for their male and female citizens.
The first president of independent Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, introduced a landmark social change in the country by bringing in social code in 1956 to ban polygamy and grant new rights to women that were unheard of in the Arab world at that time.