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Tunisia

2010



A barman in a coffeehouse in Tunis switches out the official photo of former Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba, right, to one of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after a bloodless coup in 1987. (AP/Laurent Rebours)
The escalating attacks on critical journalists in Tunisia are unprecedented since the establishment of the first Arab-language newspaper in the North African country, 150 years ago this July.
A hospitalized Boukadous. (CPJ)

Tunisian police arrested Fahem Boukadous, a widely respected critical journalist, on July 15. Before his arrest, Boukadous wrote an open letter from the hospital, where he was being treated for acute asthma. On the evening he was taken to Gafsa prison, his wife, Afaf Bennacer, wrote an article about what happened that has been circulated on multiple Arabic websites. Below is CPJ's translation:

You are all no doubt aware of what I went through this past week. Indeed, though I suffered an acute asthmatic attack that necessitated sending me to the Farhat Hached Teaching Hospital in Sousse from July 3, the Gafsa Court of Appeals insisted on sentencing me to a four-year prison term. It took no notice of the hospitalization certificate presented to it by my lawyer, thus contravening one of the basic principles of a fair trial.

Police clash with protesters and journalists during a Cairo rally last month. (AP)

Judging by what’s transpired in recent weeks, press freedom in Egypt is in a deplorable state. To hear that Egyptian police abused and illegally detained peaceful protestors who took to the streets on April 6 is par for the course. To read that police and plainclothes thugs also beat and detained journalists, confiscating and destroying video footage and notes, is revolting but, unfortunately, quite predictable. But to learn that elements of the state security apparatus may also have posed as journalists to monitor civil society and opposition activists marks a new low for the Egyptian state.

The government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has made it clear there is little room for a critical press in Tunisia. Taking a cue from the government’s recent anti-press actions, CPJ cartoonist Mick Stern imagines the president’s “ideal” press conference.

CPJ/Mick Stern

See more Mick Stern cartoons.

On SaturdayTunis airport customs officials confiscated two copies of CPJ’s annual report, Attacks on the Press, as well as five copies of the Arabic-language translation of the Middle East and North Africa section of the book from Tunisian rights lawyer Mohamed Abbou and journalist Lotfi Hidouri on their return from Morocco, the two men told CPJ. 

Ben Brik, center, after ending a six-week hunger strike to protest Tunisia's human rights record in 2000. (AFP)

“When people want to live, destiny must surely respond. Darknesss will disappear, chains will certainly break!”


Journalist Taoufik Ben Brik, 49, spurred admiration among his relatives and lawyers at a Tunis appeals court on Saturday when he chanted these two verses by Abou El Kacem Chebbi, Tunisia's most well-known poet. This unexpected recitation of Chebbi's verses, which galvanized resistance to French occupation and autocratic rule after the country's independence in 1956, followed the persecuted journalist’s first remarks in court about his ordeal since his incarceration on October 29. It was the first time he had been allowed to speak at his own hearing.

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Killed in Tunisia

1 journalist killed since 1992

Attacks on the Press 2012

9 Assaults targeting journalists, most occurring during coverage of street protests.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Middle East
and North Africa

Program Coordinator:
Sherif Mansour

Research Associate:
Jason Stern

smansour@cpj.org
jstern@cpj.org

Tel: +1 (212) 300-9018,
+1 (212) 300-9017
Fax: 212-465-9568

330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor
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فيسبوك : لجنة حماية الصحفيين بالعربية

Blog: Sherif Mansour
Blog: Jason Stern