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Fundamental Pact


An 1857 Tunisian law that increased freedoms for nonTunisians.

The law was issued by Muhammad Bey (18551859) of Tunisia on 10 September 1857. Entitled Ahd alAman (Pledge of Security), the Fundamental Pact resulted from an incident involving a Tunisian Jew, Batto (Samuel) Sfez, who was executed on orders of the bey for having blasphemed Islam. The French and British consuls saw in the episode an opportunity to intervene in Tunisian affairs. The two menRichard Wood of Britain and Leon Roches of Francepressed for the promulgation of reforms that would ensure the security of both Tunisians and foreigners; that would establish mixed courts to handle matters concerning Europeans; and, importantly, that would allow non-Tunisians to conduct business and own property in Tunisia more easily. On the one hand, the law opened the way to greater European economic activity and, on the other, spurred a group of Tunisian notables, led by Khayr al-Din Pasha, to pressure the bey to enact structural reforms that would, in part, place limits upon the powers of the bey's office. The campaign of these notables, backed by the foreign consuls who continued to press for enforcement of the new laws, led Muhammad Bey and his successor Muhammad al-Sadiq Bey (18591882) to draw up a formal constitution.

See also Khayr al-Din; Mixed Courts; Muhammad al-Sadiq.


Abun-Nasr, Jamil M. A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Nelson, Harold D., ed. Tunisia: A Country Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988.

Matthew S. Gordon

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