Tunisia: ‘You can go to jail for a word or an idea’

Articles Le Monde Arabe Language:    Author:   

Three years ago Tunisians ousted long-time dictator Ben Ali. They fought for liberty and dignity, inspiring a global wave of resistance. Today, the structures of the regime remain largely intact. A new constitution has yet to be finalized and police violence continues with impunity. There’s no transitional justice, and many who speak out are judged by the laws of the old system. Among them, there are artists who are defying the state and re-imagining society by freely expressing themselves.

“The least we can get is freedom of speech in Tunisia. We have to fight to the end for our freedom, and for our revolution.”

When Jabeur Mejri, a Tunisian blogger, expressed views online that were deemed offensive to Islam, it cost him his freedom. He was jailed in 2012 for over seven years for “attacking sacred values through actions or words” and “undermining public morals”.

“Our freedom of expression is in real danger. I am afraid that we are losing the unique fruits of the revolution: the disappearance of fear and our freedom of speech. We have to keep on fighting to protect and preserve this right.”

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