"The democracy they speak of is a curse upon the Islamic civilization." - - - - Pro- Sharia Demonstrator
Officials from the largest party in Tunisia's governing coalition have said they will not support moves to enshrine Islamic law in the new constitution.
A group of ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafis had demanded the introduction of Sharia. Ennahda has been under growing pressure to declare its position on the issue.
The BBC's Jon Leyne says that the news will disappoint the increasingly vocal conservative minority, but it will bring relief to liberals and secularists who fear a tide of Islamism sweeping across the region.
Massive Pro-Sharia Demonstration in Tunisia
"Ennahda has decided to retain the first clause of the previous constitution without change," senior Ennahda official Ameur Larayed told local media.
"We want the unity of our people and we do not want divisions."
The article from the 1959 constitution states: "Tunisia is a free, sovereign and independent state, whose religion is Islam, language is Arabic and has a republican regime."
|Tunisian Islamists demonstrate in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, March 25, 2012. Thousands of conservative Tunisians have marched through the capital calling for the application of Islamic law.|