Othman Battikh

Sheikh Othman Battikh (appointed Oct. 31, 2008) replaced Sheikh Kamaleddine Jait as grand mufti of Tunisia under the Ben Ali regime following the former mufti’s issuance of a controversial fatwa supporting divorce carried out through Islamic traditions rather than Tunisian legal procedures.  Battikh tends to more moderate stances, characterizing extremists as a tiny, misguided minority and stating that “only crazy people will vote for the Salafists” in the new Tunisian government.  The mufti’s duties include responsibility for the administration of religious matters, including fixing the dates of the Islamic lunar calendar, issuing certificates of conversion, representing the country at religious conferences, and providing advice on schoolbooks and other government documents related to religion.  In 2012, Battikh clashed with members of the media who pre-empted his announcement of the first day of Ramadan.