The mercurial and banal Tunisian president is breaking his own records at being an African despot both in terms of wiping out the last traces of any human rights, as well as behaving like a paranoid dictator – which is making it harder for international community to bail the country out.
The latest weird news from Tunisia about Saied’s paranoia didn’t help.
Tunisian police are asking shops for the names of customers who bought a confiscated book which compared the president to Frankenstein.
Last month, authorities shut down a book stand at the literature fair in the capital Tunis, seizing the “Tunisian Frankenstein” and accusing the publishers of “possession of an unauthorised book,” reports Middle East Monitor.
The move came moments after the president’s opening address promised something very different: “It is important to liberate thinking because we cannot accomplish anything with rigid thoughts,” Kais Saied told attendants.
Kamal Riahi’s book is about the collapse of democracy in Tunisia, shrinking public freedoms and the death of Tunisia’s Arab Spring, all of which have accelerated under Saied’s rule.
Censorship of the work fed into fears that authorities are increasing censorship across the country and cracking down on literature and the media.
PEN America wrote on Twitter that the ban on “Tunisian Frankenstein” may have increased demand for the book and that a second edition is now available in some bookshops.
Authorities have reportedly visited stores and asked for the names of customers who bought it, with a focus on reporters.
At the book fair, security agents also removed a book by journalist Nizar Bahloul, “Kais the First, President of a Drunken Ship,” and asked the publishers to stop selling further copies.
Last year Bahloul, chief editor of Business News, was investigated after he wrote an article criticising the Prime Minister Najla Bouden’s handling of political and economic matters.
President Kais Saeid came to power in 2019, suspended parliament and pushed through a new constitution giving himself sweeping powers.
Since then, television programmes have been censored and opposition politicians are no longer invited onto state television.
Authorities have launched criminal proceedings against the head of the journalist union, Mohamed Mehdi Jelassi, after he covered a protest last year.
Kais has presided over a crackdown on dissenting voices, including the detention last month of Ennahda co-founder Rashed Ghannouchi.