Tunisian historian Talbi dead at 95

TUNIS: Mohamed Talbi, a prominent Tunisian academic and specialist on Islam, died early on Monday aged 95, the country’s culture ministry said.
Talbi, who was born in Tunis in 1921, was one of the “founders of the modern Tunisian university” and a “great intellectual” figure, the ministry said in a statement.
Having studied Arabic literature, he went on to earn a doctorate degree in history from the prestigious Sorbonne in Paris and later became the first dean to head the faculty of literature at University of Tunis.
Talbi penned around 30 books and 100 articles in Arabic and French in which he challenged rigid interpretations of religion and called for a fresh view of religious thought.
“Religion, no matter which one, should not be constraining,” he told the paper. He won many prizes, including the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest distinction, for encouraging inter-religious dialogue. — AFP